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About Me

I’m an educator, materials writer and researcher who specialises in English and Portuguese language teaching.

Denise SantosI have been involved in second and foreign language education, teacher development and materials writing for over twenty-five years. I started my career in Brazil in the late 1980s as an English teacher, and materials development has been an important part of my teaching since then.

The decision to have textbooks as my research focus at post-graduate level (for both my MEd and my PhD) was an obvious choice given my interest in understanding the role of pedagogic materials in language teaching and learning.

My experience in ELT (English Language Teaching) is vast: I have taught English as a foreign language for children, teenagers and adults at all levels, for different purposes and in different settings. When the opportunity arose for me to teach Portuguese as a foreign language I already had a teaching qualification in English and Portuguese, more than 10 years in ELT, and a Master’s degree in English Education. However, the prospect of teaching my native language to foreigners sounded like a rather challenging adventure to me, so I pursued an additional qualification - that time, a post-graduate diploma in the teaching of Portuguese as a foreign language. Since then I have enjoyed the double pleasure of teaching both my first language (Portuguese) and the language I have chosen as a career (English).

In addition to language teaching, I also have teaching experience in higher education in the UK, having contributed to the teaching of modules at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. Some courses I have taught include Introduction to Applied English Language Studies, Intercultural Communication, The Sociology of Language (the University of Reading) and Materials Development (Institute of Education, London).

I have authored and co-authored several books and academic articles in the field of foreign language teaching. Recently I have contributed to the development of a four-volume collection for the first years of Brazilian secondary schools (to be published by Macmillan Education Brasil) and I'm currently writing a revised edition of my EFL collection Take Over (for Brazilian high schools).

Over the years I have been compiling a bibliography about textbook research which colleagues have found useful (some have, in fact, helped me keep the bibliography updated!). You can find the bibliography here and do let me know if you have written (or read) something that should be added to the list.

→ For more information about myself and my work please contact me.

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Language teaching education, materials development and research.

I offer workshops and mini-courses for teachers and students in several areas in language teaching in learning. Past and forthcoming topics include:

  • Materials analysis and development
  • Culture matters for language teachers
  • Face-to-face interaction: what it is and how to teach it
  • Teaching listening strategies
  • Using the textbook critically and creatively
  • Communicative competence: learning to speak or speaking to learn?
  • Developing young learners’ critical thinking through reading
  • Materials for teaching the language skills
  • Understanding learning styles
  • Discourse analysis for language teachers

I also do consultancy work in materials development and research in several areas in applied linguistics more broadly and in English or Portuguese teaching more specifically. Recent contributions include:

  • Research into the teaching of foreign language teaching in secondary schools in England and subsequent materials development for the development of listening strategies (with Suzanne Graham, from the University of Reading, as part of the project Second language listening comprehension in England: From current practice to improved pedagogy, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation).
  • Elaboration of Part 3 (English in the World) in the MA Module Investigating Language in Action, Open University, UK.

→ For more information about myself and my work please contact me.

Educational Publications

Here you can read more about the textbooks I’ve written or co-written.

Academic Publications

  • Santos, D. & Graham, S. (2018). What teachers say about listening and its pedagogy: A comparison between two countries. In A. Burns & J. Siegel (eds.), International perspectives on teaching the four skills in ELT (pp.21-35). Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-3-319-63443-2.
  • Graham, S. & Santos, D. (2015). Strategies for second language listening: Current scenarios and improved pedagogy. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. doi: 10.1057/9781137410528.
  • Santos, D. (2015). Revising listening materials: What remains, what is changed and why. The European Journal of Applied Linguistics and TEFL 4(2), 19-36.
  • Santos, D. (2015). Critical thinking in the development of English language teaching materials: A focus on writers' and editors' conceptualisations of unit in diversity. In M. C. A. Ribeiro; L. Guerra; A. C. Gonçalves; M. F. M. Silva; A. A. Silva; O. Gonçalves & S. Llinás (eds.), Proceedings of the International Meeting on Languages, Applied Linguistics, and Translation – LALT 2012 (pp.191-203). Department of Linguistics and Literatures, University of Évora, Portugal. ISBN 978-972-99292-7-4. Available on http://gaie.iscap.ipp.pt/recles/index.php/publicacoes
  • Santos, D. & Silva, G. V. (2015). Exploring Portuguese heritage and non-heritage learners’ perceptions of and performance in listeningThe Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 18(1), 63-86.
  • Graham, S. & Santos, D. (2015) Language learning in the public eye: an analysis of newspapers and official documents in England. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 9(1), 72-85. ISSN 1750-1229 doi: 10.1080/17501229.2014.995766
  • Santos, D. (2015). Review of the book English language teaching textbooks: Content, consumption, production by N. Harwood (Ed.), published by Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Applied Linguistics, Advance Access, doi: 10.1093/applin/amv006.
  • Graham, S.; Santos, D., & Francis-Brophy, E. (2014). Teacher beliefs about listening in a foreign language. Teaching and Teacher Education, 40, 44-60.
  • Santos, D. (2013). 'This activity is far from being a pause for reflection': An exploration of ELT authors', editors', teachers' and learners' approaches to critical thinking. In J. Gray (Ed.), Critical perspectives on language teaching materials (pp.88-110). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. For more information about the book click here.
  • Graham, S. & Santos, D. (2013). Selective listening in L2 learners of FrenchLanguage Awareness, 22(1), 56-75. ISSN 1747-7565.
  • Santos, D. (2011). Review of the book Conceptualising 'learning' in Applied Linguistics by P. Seedhouse, S. Walsh & C. Jenks (Eds.). System, 39(4), 576-578.
  • Graham, S.; Santos, D; & Vanderplank, R. (2011). Exploring the relationship between listening development and strategy use. Language Teaching Research 15(4), 435–456. ISSN 1477-0954.
  • Santos, D. (2011). Making sense of literacy events mediated by the EFL textbook. In R. Maciel & V. de Assis (Eds.), Formação de professores de inglês: Ampliando perspectivas (pp. 60-92). Jundiaí, SP: Paco Editorial. ISBN 9788564367012.
  • Silva, G. V. & Santos, D. (2010). Business communication is less-commonly taught languages: Teaching suggestions through discourse analysis. Journal of the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages 8: 1-20.
  • Graham, S.; Santos, D; & Vanderplank, B. (2010). Strategy clusters and sources of knowledge in L2 listening comprehension. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching 4(1), 1-20. ISSN 1750-1229.
  • Jeffries, L.; Malcolm, D.; Rodgers, J.; Santos, D. & Schedl, M. (2010). Symposium on reading. In B. Beaven (Ed.), IATEFL 2009 Cardiff Conference Selections (pp. 181-183). Canterbury: IATEFL.
  • Fabrício, B. & Santos, D. (2009). (Re-) locating TEFL: The (re-) framing process as a collaborative locus for change. In G. Cook & S. North (Eds.), Applied Linguistics in action: a reader (pp. 89-103). London: Routledge. ISBN 9780415545471.
  • Smith, R., Kullman, J.; Gray, J.; Wharton, S.; Santos, D. & Pennycook, A. (2009). Critical approaches to coursebooks. In B. Beaven (Ed.), IATEFL 2008 Exeter Conference Selections (pp. 78-80). Canterbury: IATEFL.
  • Santos, D. & Silva, G. (2008). Making suggestions in the workplace: Insights from learner and native-speaker discourses. Hispania 91(3), 651-664. ISSN 0018-2133. For the accompanying graphics click here.
  • Santos, D. & Silva, G. (2008). The orchestration of voices in conversation sessions: Rules and roles developed by participants. In L. Wiedemann & M. Scaramucci (Eds.), Português para falantes de espanhol: Ensino e aquisição / Portuguese for Spanish speakers: Teaching and acquisition  (pp. 135-156). São Paulo: Pontes. ISBN 9788571132795.
  • Santos, D., Graham, S., & Vanderplank, R. (2008). Second language listening strategy research: Methodological challenges and perspectives. Evaluation and Research in Education 21(2), 111-133. ISSN 0950-0790.
  • Santos, D. & Silva, G. (2008). Authenticating materials through critical thinking: The case of teaching and learning suggestions in Portuguese. Hispania 91(1), 110-122). ISSN 0018-2133.
  • Graham, S., Santos, D. & Vanderplank, R. (2008).Listening comprehension and strategy use: A longitudinal exploration. System 36(1), 52-68. ISSN 0346-251X.
  • Santos, D. (2008). Investigating the textbook in situated practices: what goes on in literacy events mediated by the EFL textbook? In R. Maciel and V. Araujo (Eds.), Ensino de língua inglesa: contribuições da linguística applicada (pp.147-173). Campo Grande-MS, Brazil: Editora UNAES.
  • Santos, D. (2007). Reconceptualizing textbooks in culture teaching. Academic Exchange Quarterly 11(1), 36-40.
  • Lawes, S. & Santos, D. (2007). Teaching learning strategies: What do teachers learn? Language Learning Journal 35(2), 221-237.
  • Santos, D. (2006). Framing the textbook in classroom events. Folio 11(1), 14-19
  • Santos, D. & Fabricio, B. (2006). The English lesson as a site for the development of critical thinking. TESL-EJ / Special Issue: Language Education Research in International Contexts 10(2), 1-23. ISSN 1072-4303.
  • Silva, G. & Santos, D. (2006). Framing participation through repetition: The case of a Portuguese learner in different settings. Portuguese Language Journal 1. ISSN 1942-0986.
  • Fabricio, B. & Santos, D. (2006) (Re-) locating TEFL: The (re-) framing process as a collaborative locus for change. In J. Edge (Ed.), (Re-) Locating TESOL in an Age of Empire (pp.65-83). Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave/Macmillan. ISBN 9781403985309.
  • Silva, G. & Santos, D. (2005). A Spanish speaker learning Portuguese: Different settings, different voices. In D. Eddington (Ed.), Selected proceedings of the 6th Conference on Acquisition of Spanish and Portuguese (pp. 137-149). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
  • Santos, D. & Silva, G. (2004). Ensinando português para hispanofalantes: contrastes, transferências e a voz do aprendiz. In A. Simões, A. Carvalho, & L. Wiedeman. (Eds.), Português para falantes de espanhol: Artigos selecionados escritos em português e inglês (pp. 125-151). São Paulo: Pontes.
  • Santos, D. (2002). Learning English as a foreign language in Brazilian elementary schools: Textbooks and their lessons about the world and about learning. Paradigm 2(5), 25-38.


Selected Publications

Some publications for download or online access.



Recent conference presentations

  • Teachers' beliefs about textbook listening activities: Implications for practice. IATEFL Annual Conference and Exhibition. Birmigham, UK, 13-16 April 2016.
  • Teaching listening with a focus on processes: Key issues and pedagogical implications. Portuguese as a global language: Challenges and opportunities in teaching and learning. University of Essex, 30 June 2015.
  • Listening in MFL textbooks: An exploration of textual content, teachers’ beliefs and classroom practice (with Suzanne Graham). AILA 2014 World Conference. Brisbane, Australia, 1-15 August 2014.
  • The teaching of listening in global and local textbooks. IATEFL Annual Conference and Exhibition. Harrogate, UK, April 2014.
  • Rethinking the teaching of listening: From a focus on product to a focus on processes (with Suzanne Graham). Language World Conference, Nottingham, UK, 22-23 March 2013.
  • ‘This activity is far from being a pause for reflection’: An exploration of materials writers’, editors’, teachers’ and learners’ conceptualisations of critical thinking. International Meeting on Languages, Applied Linguistics and Translation. University of Évora, Portugal, 6-7 December 2012.
  • Understanding teachers' beliefs with a view to improving classroom practice: Methodological perspectives for second language listening (with Suzanne Graham and Ellie Francis-Brophy). 45th Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics, Southampton, UK, 6-8 September 2012.
  • Looking for disturbances: Textbooks as agents for thinking. Braz-TESOL National Convention Opening Keynote, Rio de Janeiro, July 16-19 2012.
  • Becoming a better speaker through the use of speaking strategies. Braz-TESOL National Convention, Rio de Janeiro, July 16-19 2012.
  • How to generate student motivation in ELT. Braz-TESOL National Convention, Rio de Janeiro, July 16-19 2012.
  • Foreign language listening comprehension: From current practice to improved pedagogy (with Suzanne Graham). AILA Conference, Beijing, China, August 23-28 2011.
  • How heritage and non-heritage learners engage in listening activities in the classroom: An exploratory study (with Gláucia Silva). American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) Conference, Atlanta, GA, March 6-9 2010.

Listening in Portuguese textbooks. American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) Annual Conference, Albuquerque NM, 9-12 July 2009.
  • What is said, what is done: Reading in ELT textbooks. IATEFL Annual Conference, Cardiff, UK, 31 March-4 April 2009.
  • Using the textbook critically and creatively (Invited Talk). 6th Annual Conference on Portuguese Language Education, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 19-20 September 2008.
  • Selective listening in L2 learners of French (with Suzanne Graham and Robert Vanderplank). AILA Conference, Essen, Germany, 24-29 August, 2008.
  • Textbooks as participants in the development of critical thinking. IATEFL Annual Conference, Exeter, UK, 7-11 April 2008. Click here for audio file.
  • Making suggestions in Portuguese: Is it about the subjunctive or the indicative? (with Gláucia Silva). American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) Annual Conference, San Diego, CA, 2-5 August 2007.
  • Besides learning English, we are broadening our worldviews: Re-creating classroom practices through co-participation rules (with Branca Fabricio). Second International Cutting Edges Conference, Canterbury University, June 2007.
  • Suggestions in the workplace as an interactional achievement (with Gláucia Silva). AAAL Conference, Costa Mesa, California, 21-24 April 2007.
  • Research, teachers and learners as partners in materials development (with Gláucia Silva). NCOLCTL Conference, Madison, WI, 26-29 April 2007.
  • It's more than about using the verb ‘sugerir’: How native speakers and learners of Portuguese differ in their ways of making suggestions (with Gláucia Silva). Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, University of Western Ontario, 19-22 October 2006.
  • Participation in literacy events involving textbooks: Definitions, engagement with the textbook and the Disneyfication of experience. BAAL Conference, Cork, 7-9 September 2006.
  • Developing listening strategies in L2 teaching and learning (Invited Workshop). 4th Annual Conference on Portuguese Language Education, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, September 2006.
  • The textbook as discourse: Investigating textbooks in classroom literacy events. 10th National BRAZ-TESOL Convention, Brasilia, 8-11 July 2006.
  • The rearticulation of textual voices and the joint construction of interactional alignments in literacy events mediated by textbook. AAAL Conference, Montreal, 17-20 June 2006.
  • L2 listening strategy research: Methodological challenges and perspectives (with Suzanne Graham). BAAL / Cambridge University Press Applied Linguistics Seminar Programme 2006: Research perspectives on listening in L1 and L2 education. University of Warwick, 12-13 May 2006.
  • The orchestration of voices in conversation sessions: Rules and roles developed by participants (with Gláucia Silva). II Symposium on Portuguese for Spanish Speakers: Acquisition and Teaching, Stanford University, 17-19 March 2006.
  • An analysis of repetition in L3 learning (with Gláucia Silva). AILA, Madison, USA, 24-29 July 2005.
  • Developing listening skills with Y12 students (with Shirley Lawes). Language World Conference 2005, University of Kent at Canterbury, July 2005.

→ For other talks please click here.


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