University of Reading cookie policy

We use cookies on to improve your experience, monitor site performance and tailor content to you

Read our cookie policy to find out how to manage your cookie settings

Dr Chiara Cirillo

  • Director Institution-Wide Language Programme  (IWLP)
  • IWLP Italian Language Lead


Miller G07

Building location

Miller building

Areas of interest

  • Second language education and assessment
  • Teacher identity and teacher development
  • Interculturality
  • Holistic and progressive higher education pedagogies
  • Embodied learning
  • Visual and creative methodologies

My broader areas of interests are in education and language, interwoven and developing as pedagogic and research practices.

My background in sociolinguistics, gender, discourse, and power, inform and shape my language teaching approach, as I attempt to raise students’ awareness on issues of representation, culture and identity. Interculturality and criticality play an important part in all my teaching, as well as the strong sense of care I feel as an educator. My emancipatory concerns with regards to education underpin my interests in assessment and in teacher development in higher education.

Research and practice interests

More recently, I have been working on/with contemplative pedagogy, a holistic approach to education which encourages awareness, inquiry, and interconnectedness over more performative and alienating forms of learning. This has sparked an interest in qualitative methods of research, such as life narratives, visual and creative methods, autoethnography and reflexivity, which connect and nourish my other teaching areas, in cinema and intercultural competence.

My longstanding role as Director of the Institution-Wide Language Programme (IWLP), and the responsibility it affords for the development of language teachers, has engendered an interest in language teacher development and the professional development of academic staff more broadly.  I design and facilitate staff development workshops on reflective practice and intercultural communication, internally and externally, and I serve as Convenor of the Professional Development SIG of the Association of University Language Communities (AULC), the national body representing teaching & learning professionals in UK HEIs. I am currently working with a colleague on a book chapter on the relationship between research and practice in relation to language teachers in UK universities.

Research and practice projects

I am currently involved in two Teaching and Learning projects:

  • the development and delivery of an intercultural learning project with teachers and Six-Formers in a local secondary school
  • the development of a tailored British Sign Language course for HE professionals


Currently my teaching spans across three subject areas: Italian language, Italian cinema and intercultural communication.

I convene and teach:

  • LA1PI2 IWLP Italian 2

    I also teach on other Part 1 and Part 2 modules:

  • IT10MI Making Italians: A Journey into the History and Culture of Modern Italy
  • ML1GEC Greats of European Cinema
  • IL1GICC and IL12GICC iItercultural Competence and Communication

In addition, I contribute towards the Part 3 undergraduate research ML3EE Extended Essay, where I supervise students’ projects on intercultural communication, second language acquisition, language policies and education.


I have over twenty-years’ experience of teaching language, culture and linguistics in the HE sector, across a variety of settings, including adult education. Between 2003 and 2009 I worked at the School of Continuing Education, University of Reading, where I became the Director of the Open Studies, and then the School Director of Teaching and Learning.

Academic qualifications

  • MA in Education (Reading)
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • PhD in Italian Studies (Reading)
  • Laurea in Lettere Moderne (Pavia, Italy)

Awards and honours

  • Rewarding Excellence Award, School of Literature and Languages, University of Reading, 2020
  • Rewarding Excellence Award, International Studies and Language Institute, University of Reading, 2019
  • Reading Students' Union Excellence Award nomination, University of Reading, 2017

Professional bodies/affiliations

I am a member of:

  • Contemplative Pedagogy Network (CPN)
  • Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
  • The Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (PESGB)

Conference presentations and invited events

  • ‘Assessing authentically, inclusively, and equitably: language portfolios in the HE blended learning environment’, Association of the University Language Communities (AULC) Annual Conference, Nottingham, 25-27 April 2022
  • ‘ Stepping off the treadmill: creating spaces of reflection and care for academics’. Contemplative Pedagogy Network Symposium, Emerson College, East Sussex, UK, 9-12 September 2019.
  • ‘Debating Collaboration in Languages in Higher Education: Towards New Models?’. Round Table, Language Acts and Worldmaking AHRC funded event, King’s College London University, 15 May 2019.
  • Developing quality assessment of foreign languages in Higher Education: reality, challenges, ambitions', paper (co-authored), UKALTA Language Testing Forum 2017, University of Huddersfield, 24-26 November 2017.
  • 'Representation of cultural diversity in Italian language textbooks', Round Table panel member, 'Training Day for Italian teachers', Modern Language Centre, King's College London, 30 June 2017.
  • ‘Supporting quality teaching: a profile of IWLP teachers and the role of Language Centres in the eve of the TEF’. Association of the University Language Centres (AULC) Annual Conference, Cardiff University, 7-8 January 2016
  • What place for scholarship in university language learning and teaching?’ Enhancing Student Learning Through Innovative Scholarship Conference (with Rita Balestrini), Durham University, 16-17 July 2015
  • ‘Do Language Centres value quality teaching?’ (with Alison Fenner). Association of the University Language Centres (AULC) Annual Conference, Cambridge University, 8-9 January 2015


Loading your publications ...