National Teaching Fellow 2009
Clare Furneaux is a lecturer in the Department of Applied Linguistics at the University of Reading, where her career has focussed on language and how to help non-native and native speakers of English use it for study purposes. She began as a Voluntary Service Overseas, then British Council, English language teacher in Asia for six years. These experiences gave her insights into the challenges faced by students in academic communication. She has since explored and developed expertise in academic literacy in Applied Linguistics, and in her teaching and learning roles at the University of Reading over the last 25 years.
Her first post at the University of Reading was in the Centre for Applied Language Studies (CALS). This was one of the first UK university departments set up to prepare international students for study at University level. CALS built on its internationally-recognised expertise in founding one of the first UK MAs in English Language Teaching (ELT) in 1984, catering for home/EU and international students. Clare made the move into award-bearing degree programmes in this context. She was subsequently asked to lead the University award-winning team that established Reading’s first wholly distance programme, the MA ELT by Distance Study. This currently has students studying in over 30 countries.
Distance learning led to Clare’s interest in exploring flexible learning, and, in particular, the appropriate use of new technologies. These issues are a focus of research projects Clare has conducted at Reading. The latest, in her role as a University Teaching Fellow, is producing online writing support for undergraduates.
Clare brings her teaching skills to bear on the Department of Applied Linguistics’ BA English Language programme, and across the University. One BA tutee says: ‘Clare has been both a wonderful subject teacher and personal tutor…She is truly awesome.’ Another student voice, Reading Student Union Vice-President Education 2007-08 (Pete Jeffreys), describes her thus: "Clare's commitment to the betterment of the student experience is evident at all times. Her determination to use her role and membership of various faculty and institution-wide committees to improve the academic and support opportunities to students made her a pleasure to work with, and an excellent advocate for student-teacher partnerships.”