Sandie Mourão

Originally from North Wales, I have lived and worked in Portugal since 1987 and have an MA in TESOL from the University of Manchester and a PhD from the University of Aveiro in didactics and teacher education. In my thesis I investigated the role of picturebook illustrations in language development, which brought two of my passions together, language learning with children under 6 years old and picturebooks for language learning. I continue to be involved in classroom-based research involving both language learning and reader response, together with interests in issues around assessment of learning and classroom practices in primary English education.

Present projects include the coordination of an Erasmus+ Project, ‘Intercultural Citizenship Education through Picturebooks in early English Language Learning’ with five international partners (2019-2022) and two unfunded nationwide projects:

a) Assessment in Primary English Education in Portugal
b) TEYL in the practicum: mapping supervisory and teaching approaches.


Professional pathway

In May 2019 I began as a full-time researcher in CETAPS Universidade Nova, where I am investigating children’s literature for intercultural citizenship education in primary English education in Portugal. Before that I was a part-time invited assistant professor at the faculty and responsible for the seminar, ‘Teaching Young Learners’ on the Mestrado em Ensino de Inglês no 1º ciclo do Ensino Básico.

I have worked as a freelance teacher educator and educational consultant since 2000, working closely with APPIforma and NILE, training classroom pre-primary and primary teachers of English both in Portugal and around the world. I have also worked with the Portuguese Ministry of Education as a supervisor and trainer for online courses for primary teachers of English. I am often engaged in consultancies on early language learning, and have worked closely with the Ministry of Education in Peru and Cambridge English Assessment associated with curriculum changes in Malaysia.



I was the co-editor of the open-access Children’s Literature in Language Education Journal (CLELEjournal) between 2013 and 2019, and have co-edited several academic volumes, as well as contributing regularly to edited volumes, journals and magazines related to early language learning and children’s literature. I am also author of a number of language learning courses for pre-primary and primary aged learners and resource books for teachers.


Associations and networks

I am active member of teacher and research associations and have been a member of IATEFL and APPI since the late 1990s. I founded the APPI Special Interest Group (SIG) for pre-primary and primary teachers (APPInep) in 2000 and was coordinator of the IATEFL YL SIG from 2003 to 2006 and a trustee on the IATEFL Board between 2006 and 2009.

Recently I have been involved in setting up a national network Primary English Education in Portugal (PEEP). I also set up the Multilingual Childhoods SIG within EECERA and co-covened the SIG between August 2015 and May 2019. In addition, I am a member of the AILA ELL-ReN and AILA LiLLT- ReN and coordinate the Research in Early Years Language Learning (REYLL) network.

Together with Gail Ellis, Tatia Gruenbaum and Anneta Sadowska I have co-founded Picturebooks in European Primary English Language Teaching (PEPELT), which supports primary teachers of English in using picturebooks with confidence. I have just returned to blogging – Picturebooks in ELT promotes the use of picturebooks with language learners of all age groups, with a focus on picturebooks that help make the world a better place.


Recent bibliography


Mourão, S. (in preparation). Picturebooks in Early Language Learning: Beyond ‘Brown Bear’. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Mourão, S. with G. Ellis. Teaching English to Pre-primary Children. Educating very young children. Peaslake: Delta Publishing, 2020. [Winner of ELTons Award]

Ramos, A.M, Mourão, S. & M.T. Cortez, eds. Fractures and Disruptions in Children’s Literature. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2017.

Robinson, P., S. Mourão, and N-J. Kang. English Learning Areas in pre-primary classrooms: an investigation of their effectivenessLondon: British Council, 2015.

Mourão, S. and M. Lourenço, eds. Early Years Second Language Education: International Perspectives on Theories and Practice. Abingdon: Routledge, 2015.

Mourão, S. Discover with Dex 1 and 2 Student’s Book & Teacher’s Guide. Oxford: Macmillan, 2015.


Bento, C., R. Coelho, N. Joseph, & S. Mourão. Programa de Generalização de Ensino de Inglês no 1º Ciclo do ensino Básico. Orientações Programáticas [Guidelines for primary English in Portugal] Lisboa: Ministério de Educação, 2005.

Dias, A. & S. Mourão. Inglês no 1.º ciclo – práticas partilhadas. [English in primary – shared practices] Porto: ASA Editores, 2005.

Mourão, S. Junior English Timesavers ‘REALBOOKS! in the Primary Classroom. London: Mary Glasgow Scholastic, 2003.


Chapters and articles

Mourão, S., Leslie, C., Moreira, M.A. & Monteiro, E. (forthcoming). From (mis)perceptions to (mis)practices: The assessment of oral skills in primary English education in Portugal. In Karoulla-Vrikki, D. & Papadopoulos, I. (Eds.), Oracy and Literacy Development in English for Young Learners: Research Perspectives. Bristol: Multilingual Matters

Ellis, G. & Mourão, S. (forthcoming). Asynchronous Picturebook Read-Alouds: The Affordances of ‘Read-Aloud Talk’. In A. Paran & S. Stadler-Heer (Eds.) Taking Literature Online: New Perspectives on Literature in Language Learning and Teaching. London: Bloomsbury.

Mourão, S. (forthcoming). Discussing the social problem of drug abuse using picturebooks in ELT. In G. Alter and T. Merse (Eds.) Re-thinking Picturebooks for Intermediate and Advanced Learners. Tübingen: narr Studienbücher.

Mourão, S., Leslie, C., Moreira, M.A. & Monteiro, E. (forthcoming). Battling Against a Traditional Assessment Culture: The Case of Early English Learning in Portugal. In S. Frisch, E. Romeik, J. Rymarczyk, (eds.). Current Research into Young FL and EAL Learners’ Literacy Skills. Berlin: Peter Lang.

Mourão, S. (2021). A challenging topic, format and genre: Interpreting a wordless picturebook in pre-primary English language teaching. In B. Kümmerling-Meibauer & A.M. Ommundsen (Eds.), Challenging Picturebooks in Education. Abingdon: Routledge.

Mourão, S. (2021). The ethical practices of collecting informed consent in action research projects. In A. Pinter and K. Kuchah (Eds.), Ethical and methodological issues in researching young language learners in school contexts. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Mourão, S. (2021). English as a foreign language in ECE: Itinerant teachers of English and collaborative practices for an integrated approach European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 29(3) /10.1080/1350293X.2021.1928726

Alstad, G.T.  and S. Mourão. (2021). Research into Multilingual Issues in ECEC Contexts: Proposing a Transdisciplinary Research Field. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 29(3)

Mourão, S. (2020). Review of Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles, Children’s Picturebooks,Children’s Literature in English Language Education Journal, 8(1), 74-80.

Mourão, S. (2019). Review of Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer (Ed.), The Routledge Companion to Picturebooks. Children’s Literature in English Language Education Journal, 7(2), 1-5.

Mourão, S. “Collaborative approaches to looking at progression in early years foreign language learning contexts”. In D. Prošić-Santovac & S. Rixon, eds. Integrating Assessment into Early Language Learning and Teaching Practice. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 2019.

Mourão, S. “Integrating and emulating: Early English initiatives in Portugal”. In J. Rokita-Jaśkow and M. Ellis, eds. Early Instructed Second Language Acquisition: Psycholinguistic and Sociocultural Aspects. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 2019.

Mourão, S. “Response during picturebook read alouds in English as a foreign language”Teanga: The Journal of the Irish Association of Applied Linguistics 26 (1), 58-76, 2019.

Mourão, S. “Research into pre-primary language learning”. In S. Garton & F. Copland, eds. Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners. Abingdon: Routledge, 2018.

Mourão, S. “The social and linguistic benefits of peer interaction in a foreign language-learning programme”. In M. Schwartz, ed. Preschool Bilingual Education: Agency in Interactions between Children, Teachers, and Parents. Multilingual Education Series. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer, 2018.

Mourão, S. “Playing in English: the emerging voices of pre-primary children in a foreign language context”. In F. Copland, & S. Garton, eds. Voices from the TESOL Classroom: Participant Inquiries in Young Learner Classes. Alexandria, Vir: TESOL, p. 67-76, 2018.

Mourão, S. “Playing in English: the emerging voices of pre-primary children in a foreign language context”. In F. Copland & S. Garton, eds. Voices from the TESOL Classroom: Participant Inquiries in Young Learner Classes. Alexandria, Vir: TESOL, 2018.

Mourão, S. “Picturebooks in instructed foreign language learning contexts”.  In M. Nikolajeva, & C. Beauvais, eds. The Edinburgh Companion to Children’s Literature. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017.

Lourenço, M. & Mourão, S. “Learning English (and other languages) in Portugal”, Language Issues, 28(2) 2017 pp. 53-55.

Mourão, S. “O livro como objeto – Bernardo Carvalho no papel de ilustrador-designer”. In A. M. Ramos, (coord.) Aproximações ao Livro-objeto: Das Potencialidades Criativas às Propostas de Leitura. Porto: Tropelias&Companhia, 2017.

Mourão, S. & Robinson, P. “Facilitating the learning of English through collaborative practice. In V. Murphy, and M. Evangelou, eds. Early Childhood Education in English for Speakers of Other LanguagesLondon: British Council, 2016.

Mourão, S. “Picturebooks in the Primary EFL Classroom: Authentic Literature for an Authentic Response”, Children’s Literature in English Language Education Journal, Vol 4(1) 2016 pp. 25-43.

Mourão, S. “ELT in early childhood education: from a trickling stream to a rushing river”, Children and Teenagers, 2016(1) 2016.

Mourão, S.  Learning English is child’s play – how to leave them to it. Voices, 18.11.2015

Mourão, S. “The potential of picturebooks with young learners”. In J. Bland, ed. Teaching English to Young Learners. Critical Issues in Language Teaching with 3-12 year olds. London: Bloomsbury Academic pp 199 – 218, 2015.

Mourão, S. “English at pre-primary: the challenges of getting it right.” In J. Bland, ed. Teaching English to Young Learners. Critical Issues in Language Teaching with 3-12 year olds. London: Bloomsbury Academic pp 51-70, 2015.

Mourão, S. “Fostering affective responses to picturebooks in the young learner classroom”. Humanising Language Teaching, August, 2015.

Mourão, S. “What’s real and what’s not: playing with the mind in wordless picturebooks”. Challenging and Controversial Picturebooks: Creative and Critical Responses to Visual Texts. J. Evans, ed. Abingdon: Routledge, 2015.

Mourão, S. “English at pre-primary: the challenges of getting it right”. Teaching English to Young Learners. Critical Issues in Language Teaching with 3-12 year olds. J. Bland, ed. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015.

Mourão, S. “Taking play seriously in pre-primary English classes”. ELT Journal, 63.3, (2014) 254-264.

Mourão, S. “Understanding response to picturebooks”. Encuentros, 22, (2014).

Mourão, S. “Response to ‘The Lost Thing’: Notes from a secondary classroom”. Children’s Literature in English Language Education Journal, 1.1 (2013). 81-106.


Research reports

Mourão, S. English Teaching in the Early Years: A research report. Lima: British Council, 2018

Mourão, S. & Ferreirinha, S. Report: Early Language Learning in Pre-primary Education in PortugalLisbon: APPI, 2016.