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Dr Mara Fuertes Gutierrez

Profile summary

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Professional biography

I have more than 20 years' experience teaching Spanish and Linguistics in higher education institutions, mainly in Spain and the UK. I am currently the Head of Spanish at the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics and  I have worked on all Spanish modules. I have been an Academic Conduct Officer and I currently sit at the Student Research Project Panel as the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies representative. Before joining the Open University, I was a Senior Lecturer in Spanish at Leeds Becket University for a number of years, where I carried out several roles, such as Period Abroad Academic Leader or Course Leader for all the Languages Full-Time Undergraduate Courses. Previously, I held several research fellowships, including a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Manchester funded by the Spanish government, and taught Spanish at several institutions, namely the Instituto Cervantes in Manchester.

Over my career, I have received several prizes, amongst others two Undergraduate Extraordinary Academic Achievement Awards and a PhD Academic Achievement Award. In addition, I have been nominated or shortlisted for several “Achieving Excellence Awards” (granted by Leeds Beckett University) and “Golden Robes” (granted by the Student Union at Leeds Beckett University) including Innovative Teacher of the Year (2010); Course Leader of the Year (2012); Fantastic Feedback (2015); Innovative Tutor (2015); Motivator of the Year (2015); Personal Tutor (2015).

Research interests

  • Linguistic Theories in Language Learning and Teaching
  • Linguistic Variation
  • Using corpora for Language Learning and Teaching
  • Open Educational Practices and Resources

I am currently co-mentoring and co-leading (jointly with Dr Zsuzsanna Bárkányi) a reseach group looking at how how language teachers perceive linguistic variety and how the impact of their perceptions in the classroom; I am also the Open University SIG "Linguistics in Language Learning and Teaching" Leader. 

In the past, I have also conducted extensive research in the area of Historiography of Linguistics, Linguistic Typology and Sociolinguistics, and have lead or been involved in different research projects, such as The E-Portfolio Toolkit, funded by the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (ALPS) or The Pragmatic Change in Spanish, funded by the Spanish Council of Science and Technology. I also collaborated in the CORDE Project, conducted by the Spanish Royal Academy.

I am currently co-supervising a PhD thesis on testing pedagogical theories in online games and I am regularly invited to PhD Vivas in the field of the Teaching and Learning of Foreign Languages. In addition, I frequently collaborate as a reviewer for different Periodicals in the field and I am a member of several Scientific Boards. 

Teaching interests

I have experience in teaching Spanish language and culture, Cross-Cultural Capabilities, Linguistics and various related fields to a wide range of levels in Higher Education; in addition, I have taught Research Methods applied to Modern Languages and collaborated as a guest lecturer on a MA in Materials Development. I am qualified as a DELE Examiner and I am currently participating in the Council of Europe’s Education Department validation workshops of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages Mediation descriptors. I am also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

External collaborations

I am an external examiner at the University of Leeds and at the University of Westminster

I am a member of the Research Group Grama4 (lead by Dr Carlos Soler Montes, University of Edinburgh

I am a Member of the Research Team entitled Language Teaching – Enseñanza de Lenguas, lead by Dr Carmen Rodríguez Gonzalo (University of Valencia, Spain).