Dr Mike Orr

Teaching Fellow (TESOL)

Background

I am an English language teacher with an interest in why we teach and test the way we do and how we, as teachers, find out the answers to those questions.

I have worked with learners and teachers of English in schools, universities, factories, offices and refugee camps in several parts of the world. My most recent experience is in Lebanon and Scotland. 

Qualifications

I have a degree in Law from Aberdeen, an MA in ELT from Moray House and a PhD in Applied Linguistics from Valencia. I also have a Certificate and Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

Responsibilities & affiliations

I am a founder member, and current treasurer, of St Andrews Education for Palestinian Students (STEPS).

I am a co-director of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland (CERES).

I am an external examiner for International Study Centre foundation modules in English skills for university study.

Postgraduate teaching

At Moray House I currently teach:

  • TESOL Methodology
  • Second language teaching curriculum
  • Second Language Teacher Education
  • Research Methods: Sources of knowledge; Conceptualising Research
  • English as an additional language

I am currently teaching on the Council for At Risk Academics (CARA) Syria project.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?

Yes

Research summary

  • How we evaluate and learn from what we do as teachers
  • How to be a critical English language teacher

Current research interests

A case study of an Edinburgh primary school as a multilingual space.

Project activity

I'm interested in how Arabic speaking teachers and students in schools where English is the medium of instruction perceive the different languages they use and how these perceptions relate to the wider social and political context.

Articles

  • "Ideology for second language teachers." (2014). Arab World English Journal 5:4.
  • "An inquiring light – learning reflective practice in ELT." (2014). English language research journal, 1 (re-launched).
  • "Learning to teach English in Lebanon." (2011). Near and Middle East Journal of Research in Education 2.
  • "Evaluating the testing course on an MA in ELT." (2010). ELTED 13.
  • The ELT networking project: evaluation report. The British Council (2008).
  • "Learner perceptions of Interactive Whiteboards in EFL classrooms." (2008). CALL-EJ Online, 9:2.
  • "Back to square one – practising speaking in class." (2008). ATEL Journal 17.
  • "21st Century Literacy: rising to the challenge." (January 2006). Revue Pédagogique. CERD, Beirut.
  • "The FCE Speaking test: using rater reports to help interpret test scores."(2002). System 30:2.
  • "Writing, not boring." (1998). Modern English Teacher, 7:3.
  • "Backs to the wall?" (1998). Modern English Teacher, 2:4.
  • "Rods, silence, and CLL." (1993). Modern English Teacher, 2:1.
  • "Talking Sense." (1992). Modern English Teacher, 1:4.
  • "Written Instructions: are they wasted?" (1989). Modern English Teacher, 16:4.

Conference papers and invited talks

  • 2016. English medium instruction in Lebanon: imperialism and ideology. (with Samer Annous). Paper given at Asfari Institute conference "Academia and social justice", American University of Beirut, Lebanon.
  • 2015. English medium instruction in Lebanon: imperialism and ideology. (with Samer Annous). Paper given at ETAL seminar, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • 2015. "Language, identity and medium of instruction in Lebanon (II)"  (with Samer Annous, University of Balamand). Paper given at UCL Centenary conference "The politics of teaching and learning foreign languages", University College London, England.
  • 2015. "Teacher activism: learning from success" (symposium on children' rights and Palestine). CERES conference, "The stubborn persistence of racism", University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • 2015. "Language, identity and medium of instruction in Lebanon (I)" (with Samer Annous, University of Balamand). Creativity, Culture and Faith Research Group seminar given at University of Glasgow School of Education, Scotland.
  • 2014. "Language, identity and medium of instruction in Lebanon (I)" (with Samer Annous, University of Balamand). Paper presented at Scottish Educational Research Association annual conference, "From widening horizons to a world view", University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • 2012. "Language and power – how words will never fail us". Guest lecture International summer school, St Andrews University, Scotland.
  • 2010. "An inquiring light – learning reflective practice in ELT". Paper presented at the 2nd International Conference on Cultural Dialogue, Minia University, Egypt; "The Arab/Western Character? This is not a question." Panel speaker at the 2nd International Conference on Cultural Dialogue, Minia University, Egypt.
  • 2010. "E-beam technology and whole class pedagogy." Workshop given for school teachers in north Lebanon at MA ELT open day, University of Balamand, Tripoli, Lebanon.
  • 2009. "Evaluating the testing course on an MA in ELT." Regional Conference on Program Evaluation and Assessment in Universities at Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon.
  • 2008. "Localising the global: ELT websites as a context for teacher development. An evaluation of the British Council NENA region ELT Networking project." 1st International Conference on Cultural dialogue: communication channels among nations conference, Minia University, Egypt. 
  • 2007. "Interactive whiteboards in EFL classrooms." University of Balamand Research Council, Lebanon.
  • 2007. "ELT and beyond: rewards and challenges." Key note speech given at the annual conference of the Association of Teachers of English in Lebanon, Beirut; "Back to square one – teaching speaking in class." Workshop given at the annual conference of the Association of Teachers of English in Lebanon, Beirut.
  • 2006. "Supporting change in teacher education." Key note speech given at British Council/Hornby Foundation summer school, Al Akhawayn University, Ifrane, Morocco.
  • "Interactive whiteboards – the difference that makes the difference? Learners speak their minds." Paper presented at the IATEFL conference, Nicosia, Cyprus.
  • 2005. "A Web of Words - stories from the internet." Workshop given at the annual conference of the Association of Teachers of English in Lebanon, Beirut. 
  • 1999. "Is it purely subjective? FCE raters speak their minds." Paper presented at the TESOL annual conference, Madrid, Spain.
  • 1999. "In the eye of the beholder: rater perceptions of the new FCE Speaking test." Paper given at the annual conference of the Spanish Association of Applied Linguisitcs (AESLA), Madrid, Spain.
  • 1998. "Holding their attention: making the ordinary something special." Workshop given at the annual TESOL conference, Bilbao, Spain.
  • 1998. "Lexis in Political Agitation"; "From Alcott to Proux, changing focus in women's literature since 1848." Doctoral seminars, University of Valencia, Spain.
  • 1997. "Teacher and learner perceptions: Settling our differences."; "Agitation as a Political Genre."  University of Valencia, Spain.
  • 1996. "Intercultural Pragmatics: Implications for the teaching of foreign languages." University of Valencia, Spain.
  • 1993. "Heart and mind: poetry in class." Workshop given at the annual TESOL conference, Madrid, Spain.
  • 1992. "Second Language Acquisition: theory, in practice, in the classroom." Paper presented at the annual TESOLconference, Alicante, Spain.

Cultural collaborations

  • Art, resistance and Palestine: "Um Mazen's hands". Edinburgh Fringe 2014. (Story teller)
  • Reel Festivals (Syria; Iraq): Scotland 2012-13. (Volunteer)
  • A Measure of Splendour: international poetry performance. Tripoli, Lebanon 2009. (Co-founder)
  • Performing history: 60 years of Palestinian dispossession and resistance. Balamand University 2008. (Co-organiser)
  • Indary, S. and Orr, M. (2013). Birdtalk Lebanon: A platform for birding enthusiasts in Lebanon/Birdtalk Liban: Une plateforme pour les passionnés au Liban. In Azafzaf, H., Brochet, A.L., Deschamps, C., Defos du Rau, P., Feltrup-Azafzaf, C. & Mondain- Monval, J.Y. (eds.). Bulletin of the network “Mediterranean Waterbirds”, 1. AAO, ONCFS, Tour du Valat.

  • Al-nidaa (Lebanon): opinion pieces. War on words – Beirut 2006 (August 2006); The fact of resistance (May 2008); Language and struggle (June 2008); Living memory (July 2008); Democracy in action (September 2008); Who was Helen Suzman? (February 2009); Whatever Lola wants (March 2009); The hammer and the anvil (February 2010); Old maps and news (June 2010); Hope not fear (October 2015).