Maria Ellison

University of Porto | Working CLIL Convener
E-mail: [email protected]

Maria Ellison is Assistant Professor of didactics of languages at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Porto (FLUP). She holds a degree in primary education (Bath College of Higher Education now Univ. Bath Spa), an MA in TESOL (Univ. Manchester) and a Ph.D in didactics of languages (FLUP).

She teaches didactics for English language teaching, English for Specific Purposes, English for Academic Purposes and CLIL at FLUP.

She also coordinates ELT seminars  and supervises student teachers who are conducting their teaching practice in primary and secondary schools in and around Porto.

She has been involved in integrated approaches to teaching since she began her career as a primary generalist teacher in the UK in the mid 1980s. She has been actively engaged in teacher education for CLIL in Portugal since 2005 through the STEPS-UP project (Support for Teaching English in Primary Schools 2005 – 2009) which was the recipient of the European Language Label award (Selo Europeu) in 2008 and Label of Label awards in 2012 for its fostering of CLIL practices in primary schools in Porto.

She was also the pedagogic coordinator for Higher STEPS  which supports the development of English language and integration of academic content of teachers across faculties of the University of Porto.

She is external advisor of the GoCLIL project at Escola Secundária Dr Joaquim Gomes Ferreira Alves, Valadares. She runs in-service   teacher development courses on CLIL and teaches a curricular course on CLIL on the Masters in Teaching English in primary schools.

Reflective practice and action research in pre-service foreign language teacher education. 

She has conducted research related to student-teachers’ perspectives on action research during the teaching practicum (the subject of her MA dissertation). More recent research has been about the dimensions of teachers’ reflections, and has involved the development of a rubric/tool for analysing types of reflection. She is currently looking into the ‘emotional journey through the practicum’.

Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL). 

Drawing on her own initial training and experience of teaching primary aged children in the UK and Portugal, she has become actively involved in pre- and in-service teacher education for young learners at FLUP and is the director of the Masters degree in Teaching English in the first cycle of primary education. She is particularly interested in integrated approaches to teaching young learners and developing critical thinking (see “Making and doing (in) English: Incorporating ELT into Best primary Practice.” APPI Journal (Autumn 2008); “Make them think! Using stories in the primary English language classroom to develop critical thinking.” E-Fabulations. 7 (2010)).

She was responsible for the pedagogic coordination of STEPS – UP (Support for Teaching English in Primary Schools – University of Porto), 2005 – 2009. During this time she conducted research into primary English language teachers’ experiences with CLIL (see “(De)Constructing CLIL in the primary context: Primary practice revisited and reconsidered.” APPI Journal (Autumn 2010)). In 2008, STEPS – UP was awarded the European Language Label (Selo Europeu) and in 2012, declared the best award winner in the 10-year history of the Language Label in Portugal by the National Agency, PROALV. STEPS-UP is a case study of NELLIP (Network of European Language Labelled Initiatives).

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). 

Her research interests in CLIL span all cycles of education from primary to tertiary. Early research in primary contexts resulted in a set of criteria for monitoring evidence of scaffolding in planning and administering of CLIL lessons. Her doctoral research examined the foci and types of reflection of primary English language teachers who carried out CLIL projects in Portuguese primary schools (thesis – “CLIL as a Catalyst for Developing Reflective Practice in Foreign Language Teacher Education”). She is the external advisor of the GoCLIL project at Escola Dr. Joaquim Gomes Ferreira Alves, Valadares where she is monitoring the implementation process and stakeholder perspectives. Here she is collaborating on the implementation of a whole school approach to language awareness across the curriculum. She was pedagogic coordinator of Higher STEPS – English for Academic Purposes for teaching staff of the University of Porto through which she conducted research into teachers’ perceptions of ‘need’. She is currently exploring the affective dimension in English Medium Instruction in higher education.

Díaz Pérez, W., Ellison, M., Harumi, I., Kärkkäinen, K., Langé, G., Lee, J., Mahan, K. R., Marsh, D., Osorio, P., Pavón Vázquez, V., Schmidt, T.  (2019 forthcoming). Implementing Internationalization of Academia: Teaching, Learning and Research through EnglishThe Guadalajara Colloquium Shape Report. Guadalajara: University of Guadalajara.

Ellison, M. (2018). (Net)Working CLIL in Portugal and beyond. Special Edition eTEALS CLIL.


Ellison, M. (2018). CLIL in the primary school context. In Garton, S. and Copland, F. (eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners. Pp247 – 268. London: Routledge.


Ellison, M., Anido, M., Nicolás, P., & Valente Rodrigues, S. (eds.) (2018). As línguas estrangeiras no ensino superior: propostas didáticas e casos em estudo. Porto: Universidade do Porto. Faculdade de Letras.


Pazos Anido, M., Valente Rodrigues, S., Tomé, S., Nicolás Martínez, P., Hurst, N., Ellison, M., Lorenzo, M., Henriques da Silva, M., José Domingues de Alemeida, J. & Carvalho, . (2017). Construção de um referencial de avaliação de desempenho do estudante de línguas em estágio pedagógico: problemas e desafios. Sensos-e: revista multimédia de investigação em educação 4 (1), 3-11.


Ellison, M. & Almeida Santos, A. (2017). Implementing CLIL in schools: the case of the GoCLIL project in Portugal. eTEALS, 43-72.


Ellison, M., Araújo, S., Correia, M. & Vieira, F. (2017). Teachers’ Perceptions of Need in EAP and ICLHE Contexts. In J.Valcke & R. Wilkinson (eds.). Integrating Content and Language in Higher Education: Perspectives on Professional Practice. (pp. 59-76). Frankfurt: Peter Lang.


Ellison, M. (2015). CLIL: The Added Value to Foreign Language Teacher Education for Young Learners. Linguarum Arena, 6, 59-69.


Pavón, V. & Ellison, M. (2013). Examining teacher roles and competences in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). Linguarum Arena, 4, 65-78.

Working CLIL