Dr Abigail Parrish

Dr Abigail Parrish is a Senior Lecturer in Teacher Development and works on a range of programmes within the Secondary, FE & Research and Arts & Humanities portfolio areas. After a first degree in Modern European Studies from the University of Nottingham, Abigail trained as a modern foreign languages teacher at the University of Sheffield, where she also completed an MA in Applied Professional Studies in Education. Abigail taught French, German, Dutch, English and history at schools in North East Lincolnshire before completing a PhD in Education at the University of York. Before joining BGU, she taught at undergraduate level and contributed to university Widening Participation schemes at the University of York.

Abigail’s primary research focuses on student motivation and need satisfaction in school language lessons, using Self-Determination Theory, and considers this in light of student choice. Other work considers school-level language policy and decision-making. She has also contributed to research into teacher engagement with research, the use of a computer game in primary French lessons and the impact of undergraduate mentoring programmes in secondary schools, and investigated the teaching of Dutch at a secondary level. She regularly presents her work at national and international conferences, to both academic and practitioner audiences


Abigail teaches on the Secondary PGCE course, the MA in Education, the MA in Education with TESOL and the BA Linguistics & TESOL, with a focus on education policy and research skills.

Away from BGU, Abigail has run workshops for teachers in Italy on using CLIL (Content & Language Integrated Learning) approaches and has worked with lecturers and trainee teachers at Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University in Thailand.

Related Courses

Abigail’s research is grounded in Self-Determination Theory and her main research interests lie in student motivation in languages and subject choice. She is also interested in language policy, particularly in relation to schools.

2020: Self-determination theory & language learning online summer symposium (organiser)

2019: School-level language policy through a student lens. Language Policy Forum, University of Edinburgh

2019: Why do you do your work in language lessons? Exploring student motivation across the year groups. Self-Determination Theory conference, Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands

2018: There’s no such thing as a Brusselo: The Brexit monster looming large over language teaching & learning. Monsters Conference, Bishop Grosseteste University

2018: Which languages? The dilemma of diversifying provision. Language Policy Forum, Sheffield Hallam University

2018: External challenges, internal solutions: Can training providers contribute to steering subjects out of troubled waters? TEAN National Conference, Birmingham

2017: Connecting the dots between head teachers’ language skills, choice and student motivation in modern foreign languages. BERA national conference, Brighton

2017: Should you offer students a choice? Motivation and decision-making in GCSE language study. ResearchED English & MFL conference, Oxford

2016: Languages in schools: The student view. UK language policy after Brexit conference, Sheffield Hallam University

2015: Everyone speaks English anyway: Motivation & learning languages in the English-speaking world. ALAA / ALANZ / ALTAANZ Linguistics Conference, University of South Australia

2015: Everyone speaks English anyway: Motivation & learning languages in the English-speaking world. Languages, Education & Diversity conference, University of Auckland

2015: Foreign language provision and learners’ attitudes in UK schools. The Politics of Teaching & Learning Languages conference, UCL

2015: Do students who have a choice demonstrate higher levels of motivation? ResearchED national conference, London

2014: From Dutch to Diversification. Research students’ education conference, University of Leeds

2012: You as Teacher-Researcher. Invited presentation to MA Applied Professional Studies in Education students, University of Sheffield

Scally, J., Parrish, A. & Dhephasadin Na Ayudhaya, P. (2021: in press). ‘Power imbalances: inequality in international exchange between the UK & Thailand’. In C. Glass & P. Gesing (eds.) Critical perspectives on equity and social mobility in study abroad. Routledge

Scally, J., Montgomery, A. & Parrish, A. (2021). Intercultural communication and languages: inextricably linked or linked inexplicably? Compare. DOI: 10.1080/03057925.2020.1851000

Abigail Parrish (2020). Book Review: Contemporary Language Motivation Theory: 60 Years Since Gardner and Lambert (1959). Journal of Language and Social Psychology. DOI: 10.1177/0261927X20926552

Abigail Parrish (2020). Modern foreign languages: decision-making, motivation and 14–19 schools. Cambridge Journal of Education, 50(4), 469-481. DOI: 10.1080/0305764X.2020.1724261

Abigail Parrish (2020). Curriculum change in modern foreign languages education in England: barriers & possibilities. The Language Learning Journal. 48(5), 534-554 DOI: 10.1080/09571736.2018.1557733

Abigail Parrish & Ursula Lanvers (2019) Student motivation, school policy choices and modern language study in England, The Language Learning Journal, 47:3, 281-298, DOI: 10.1080/09571736.2018.1508305

Parrish, A. & Lanvers, U. (2017, June 29). Let’s use Brexit to stop linguistic complacency. i newspaper.

Parrish, A. & Lanvers, U. (2017). Why just speaking English isn’t going to cut it anymore. The Conversation.

Parrish, A. & Taylor, F. (2014). Beyond the big three: French, German and Spanish aren’t the only languages that matter. The Conversation.

Parrish, A. (2012). Shall we go Dutch? Deutsch Lehren und Lernen, 45, pp. 13-15.

Parrish, A. (2012). Au revoir, le français? TES, Friday, February 24 2012, p. 47

Parrish, A. (2011). Dutch for Experts. Languages Today, 08, p. 11.

Parrish, A. (2011). Double Dutch on the Curriculum. Languages Today, 08, p. 30.

2021: Invited host of SDT table at International Association for the Psychology of Language Learning roundtable event

2021: Motivation & Thriving in Language Learning: Using Self-Determination Theory to Create an Optimal Environment for Learners. Invited talk, Hamdard International Conference of Linguistics & Literature, Pakistan

2021: Motivation & Thriving in Language Learning: Using Self-Determination Theory to Create an Optimal Environment for Learners. Invited talk, English seminar programme, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

2020, 2021: Publish or Perish: The UK publication landscape. Invited lecture lecture, Honors program, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, USA

2019: Motivation & language learning: lessons from Self-Determination Theory. Invited lecture, University of Sindh, Jamshoro, Pakistan

2018: Student motivation, school policy choices and modern language study in England. University of Exeter.

Frazer Stone (2020 - present): Active learning in secondary schools (EdD)

Lianxin Li (2020 - present): Motivation for learning a language other than English in China (PhD)

Fiona McManus (2019 – present): EAL and the curriculum (EdD)

Jessica Vernon (2019 – present): Using student-designed interventions to increase motivation in modern foreign languages (PhD)

Lauren Jarvill (2018 – present): The concept of tolerance in religious education (EdD)