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Ms Baerbel Brash

Profile summary

Professional biography

The learning and teaching of languages and cultures has been at the heart of my academic career from early on. I worked for Edinburgh University, Napier University and Moray College/UHI as part-time lecturer in languages. Since January 1999, I have worked for the Open University in Scotland, initially as an Associate Lecturer teaching on all German modules, and more recently as Staff Tutor.

Since 2014 I have also worked for the Goethe Institute Munich leading the design of and teaching on distance learning courses to upskill language teachers internationally, for example on the award-winning teacher development programme ‘DLL Deutsch Lehren Lernen’.

During the migration crisis in 2015-17 in Germany, I trained teachers in language awareness to facilitate better inclusion of migrants at a range of schools, HE and FE institutions.

Research interests

  • Digital Tools and Learner Participation in Language Teaching and Learning
  • Language Learning for Wellbeing
  • Motivation and Learner Identity in Virtual Learning Environments
  • Access to Language Learning and Learner Inclusion
  • Language Awareness and Language Coaching
  • Foreign Language Anxiety

Teaching interests

My teaching interests span a wide range of topics in German languages, cultures and linguistics. At the OU, I have tutored on all German modules and been recognised with OU Teaching Excellence Awards in 2007 and 2021.

I have been a member of the Module Award Panel on L193 and L313 and course director of the L223 online residential school.

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

External collaborations

I contribute to the innovative external engagement activities of the School of Languages and Linguistics across Scotland, in enterprise as well as research. In the HEIF-funded knowledge exchange project ‘Benefits of language learning for senior learners’ I have collaborated with the social enterprise Lingo Flamingo and the Universities of Edinburgh, St Andrews, and Madrid to develop new pedagogical approaches to deliver languages teaching to senior learners, and community engagement and employability opportunities for volunteer tutors and care workers.  I have co-written the award-winning online short CPD course ‘Learning Languages with Senior Learners’ which aligns with what is at the heart of the Open University’s mission: social justice. I believe in creating an inclusive community and responding positively to different needs and circumstances so that everyone can access and participate in learning opportunities and achieve their potential.

The project featured in the OU’s 2022 Employability Best Practice Guide, and one of our students contributed to the 2021 BBC Radio 4 documentary Lost for Words.

My work has allowed me to forge links with teachers worldwide, and in recent years more particulary with colleagues in Sweden, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. In 2022 I collaborated with Professor Thomas Strasser (Pädagogische Hochschule Wien) on the project Methodik, Didaktik, Digital to contribute to the online training and development of school teachers in Egypt.



Shedding the ego: Drama-based role-play and identity in distance language tuition (2009-04)
Brash, Baerbel and Warnecke, Sylvia
Language Learning Journal, 37(1) (pp. 99-109)

Unterrichten mit digitalen Medien (2017-11-28)
Brash, Bärbel and Pfeil, Andrea
DLL Deutsch Lehren Lernen
ISBN : 978-3-12-606981-6 | Publisher : Ernst Klett Verlag | Published : Stuttgart

Teaching by telephone (2011-05-26)
Brash, Barbel and Nicolson, Margaret
In: Nicolson, Margaret; Murphy, Linda and Southgate, Margaret eds. Language Teaching in Blended Contexts (pp. 112-125)
ISBN : 978-1-906716-20-2 | Publisher : Dunedin Academic Press | Published : Edinburgh, U.K.

Digital-gestütztes Lehren und Lernen (2023)
Strasser, Thomas and Brash, Bärbel
In : Methodik Didaktik Digital (19-23 Apr 2023, Kairo) (pp. 156-180)

Transfer Theorie auf die Praxis: Webtools im mediengestützten Unterricht (2023)
Brash, Bärbel and Strasser, Thomas
In : Methodik Didaktik Digital (19-23 Apr 2023, Kairo) (pp. 209-247)

Foreign Language Speaking Anxiety - PRAXIS Project Report (2022)
Barkanyi, Zsuzsanna; Brash, Baerbel and Kotschi, Susan
The Open University