IoI Branch Committee

Meet the NATECLA IoI Committee.  

Dr Declan Flanagan, Branch Chairperson

Declan is an English language practitioner with over twenty years of experience in various contexts (EFL ESOL, EAL) and is currently a senior lecturer in EAP at Queen’s University Belfast. He is also an education coordinator for Looked After Children (LAC) and unaccompanied minors within the Belfast: Health and Social Care Trust (HSC). Declan is a sociolinguist who studies the social and cultural factors influencing linguistic communication, particularly English language education provision. His current research interests focus on the role of English language education in divided societies, intergroup relations and equality/equity in education throughout the island of Ireland. Declan has recently become the coordinator of both NATECLA (Island of Ireland) branch and IATEFL ESOL-SIG and is the NATECLA Language Issues Journal editor.   

Meng Tan, Branch Secretary 

Meng (also known as Tami) is a qualified ESL tutor and Mandarin interpreter based in Northern Ireland. She achieved her Master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speaker’s of Other Languages) from Queen’s University Belfast and took her CELTA qualification in International House Belfast in 2015. After that, she started to teach younger learners and teenagers English in China. In the year 2018, she returned to the UK and became an indigenous community ESL teacher, teaching Chinese/Asian adults in Northern Ireland. As a member of NATECLA, Tami would like to meet and share good news and practices with ESL professionals and connect people who speak different community languages closer together.

Dr Aisling O'Boyle, Committee Member

Aisling is Lecturer and Director of the Centre for Language Education Research at Queen’s University Belfast. Her research focuses on relationships between dialogue and education, with methodological interests in corpus linguistics and discourse analysis. Her applied research in English Language Education engages with the socially embedded nature of language teaching; including gender equality matters in language education, and community language education programmes for adults, young people, and children from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds. She has worked in several international educational contexts and has extensive experience in teacher education and professional development programmes and has supervised numerous doctoral students.

Arthur McKeown MBE, Committee Member

After school in Northern Ireland and university in Scotland, Arthur worked on three different continents for 15 years as an English language teacher, teacher trainer and centre manager.  He then taught management at the Open University and Ulster University for 25 years.  Since his retirement in 2015 Arthur has contributed as a Volunteer at the Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre to provide English language courses for adult migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who are building new lives for themselves and their families.  His particular interest is in the design, documentation and delivery of online English courses for adults who are taking their first steps in English. He was recognised as IATEFL ESOL Special Interest Group's Champion in 2020.  He received an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June 2021 for his work with refugees and asylum seekers.

Andrew Porterfield, Committee Member

Andrew has been working in the field of English language teaching for over 20 years. He has taught extensively in private language schools, FE colleges, schools, prisons and online in Korea, Taiwan and Northern Ireland. He currently oversees the delivery of ESOL programmes for a Further Education College in Northern Ireland.  Over the last decade, he has also coordinated and developed learning materials for several Erasmus+ projects with focuses on language learning, cultural diversity, well-being and social inclusion.  He also writes and edits learning materials for several global education publishers. His main interests are in localised materials development and the utilisation of digital technologies for language learning.  

Mary Kenny, Committee Member

Mary has worked in EAL/ESP/EAP/ESOL teaching for 30+ years in language schools, universities and is now ESOL Development Officer in DDLETB supporting teens and adults from a migrant/refugee background. She coordinates language provision across 27 post primary schools in the Dublin region and an EAL network/CoP. She has been ESOL tutor, teacher trainer/course director on acels-recognised courses for both second-level teachers, ESOL tutors, as well as CLIL and ELT courses for Initial and subject teachers.  She is examiner and Cambridge English Centre Exams Manager for DDLETB with an interest in authentic materials, teaching learners with low levels of literacy and giving feedback to learners.

Tom Le Seelleur,  Committee Member

Tom is an experienced ESOL, EAP, ESP, IELTS and general English lecturer/teacher. With over 30 years’ academic English and management experience.  He specializes in EAP and IELTS preparation with a drive to encourage extensive reading for pleasure, his main area of interest in research and practice. He has managed and taught in Beirut, Dhahran, Norwich, Canterbury, Cambridge, London, Madrid, Libyan desert, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Sharjah, Sheffield and Lisburn, Bangor, Belfast & Ballymena in Northern Ireland at language schools, colleges and universities.

Paul Sceeny, Committee Member

Paul has worked within the arena of language, literacy and numeracy for over 20 years and is currently a specialist technical advisor for a major UK-based awarding organisation – supporting providers across a range of settings. Originally from the south of England, Paul relocated to north west Ireland a few years ago, giving him a perspective on the increasingly diverse approaches to ELT policy and practice across these islands. He’s especially interested in approaches to digital literacies and inclusion. Paul is also on the Management Group of Research and Practice in Adult Literacies (RaPAL), and is an individual member of both AONTAS and NALA.

Juana Simpson,  Committee Member

Juana is a qualified ESOL, EAL, and EAP practitioner, with 12 years experience in Northern Ireland. She is originally of mixed French-Caribbean heritage and has welcomed the increasing diversity in Northern Ireland since making Belfast her home 30 years ago. She has taught in various EFL settings, currently teaching ESOL in a Community Centre for Women, and EAL in a Secondary School in Belfast. Juana is passionate about fair and equitable English Language provision for adults, young people, and children from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds. Her teaching practice embraces diversity, inclusion, belonging, and multilingualism, and her research interest focuses on narrative inquiry through ESOL and EAL learners’ voices.

Claudia Belloni, Committee Member

Claudia is a qualified ESOL Tutor, who has been working in the field for almost 10 years. Since obtaining her CELTA, she has been focussing on community teaching, working mainly with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who have been making Northern Ireland their home. She is the Volunteer Coordinator for the ESOL Programme at the Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre (BURC) and splits her time between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, where she teaches ESOL to migrant workers and refugees for TETB. She is particularly interested in the free access of language provision for newcomers and the value and impact of volunteer-led language courses, based in a community setting. Her current focus is also on the application and use of AI in ESOL teaching and learning, and in the use of inclusive teaching material, relevant to the learners’ experience. 

Join the team

We are always keen to hear from those who are interested in getting more involved with the branch.