Professor Anne Burns


Anne Burns

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I did honours undergraduate studies in English Literature at the University of Wales, Cardiff. After travelling and living overseas in France, Kenya and Mauritius and finding myself teaching English language classes, I enrolled soon after emigrating to Australia at what is now the University of Technology, Sydney, in a Postgraduate Diploma in TESOL. For ten years I taught adult immigrants in Australia’s Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) before joining the staff of the Linguistics Department at Macquarie University. I did my PhD under the supervision of Professor David Nunan and worked in the National Centre for English Language Teaching and Research (NCELTR) whose Executive Director was Professor Christopher Candlin. The Centre was funded by Australia’s Department of Immigration and became well known nationally and internationally for its focus on research, professional development, publications and specialist library resources relating to adult immigrant education. I left Macquarie University in 2010 after 20 years and have joined Aston University as Professor in Language Education.

I am probably best known for my work on teacher education, and action research, which I initiated as a way of doing collaborative research projects with AMEP teachers nationally in Australia. My books Collaborative Action Research for English Language Teachers (CUP, 1999) and Doing Action Research in English Language Teaching: A Guide for Practitioners (Routledge, 2010) are a result of this work. A volume co-edited with Professor Jack Richards, The Cambridge Guide to Second Language Teacher Education (CUP, 2009), which was shortlisted for the Ben Warren Prize, reflects my interest in the theory and practice of language teacher professional development.  Another long-term strand of research has been in teaching spoken communication from a discourse perspective, published in early co-edited work such as Focus on Speaking (NCELTR, 1996), and “I See What You Mean” (NCELTR, 1997), and numerous other articles and book chapters published since that time. My research interests in adult immigrant and refugee education are reflected in the 2010 Special Issue of TESOL Quarterly on Migration and Adult Language Learning (edited with Celia Roberts). I am also active in various professional organisations and have been the Chair of TESOL’s Standing Committee for Research, as well as Member-at-Large of AILA.

I have taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the teaching and learning of English as an additional language, curriculum development and methodology, literacy, genre analysis and functional linguistics, and qualitative research. Working mainly from qualitative perspectives, I have supervised 20 students to completion of their doctoral degrees.

Research interests

  • Adult Immigrant and ESOL policy, theory and practice
  • Analysis of spoken discourse for education and professional purposes
  • Language teacher and learner beliefs and cognition
  • Literacy/reading and writing research in educational settings
  • Language teacher education ESP and EAP theory and practice
  • Qualitative/action research based in language classrooms
  • Theory and practice of language curriculum development

Teaching Activity

Supervision of doctoral and masters students.


  • BA (Honours) in English, University of Wales, Cardiff
  • Postgraduate Diploma in TESOL, University of Technology, Sydney
  • MA in Education, Macquarie University, Sydney
  • PhD in Linguistics, Macquarie University, Sydney

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