Motivational trajectories of primary school teachers for languages’ teaching

Understanding the motivational trajectories of non‐specialist primary school teachers for teaching languages

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

Anglophone countries, including Australia, are moving towards increasing provision of languages education in the primary sector. Language learning can positively impact on literacy, maths and science achievement, enhance children’s social skills and empathy, and their appreciation of cultural diversity. It relates positively to problem solving, creative flexibility, fluency and originality. It may also safeguard against cognitive decline in older age. Learning languages other than English can enrich participation in multilingual Australia, where over 300 languages are spoken. Yet, attaining this full potential requires effective teaching. While the Federal Government recognises the value of early languages learning and all states have undertaken or are undertaking expansion and enhancement of languages provision across the school trajectory, Tasmania is the only state still with no language education policy. Teachers in Tasmania thus face unique challenges to their motivation for languages teaching. Teacher motivation has significant impact on learner outcomes, teacher well-being and teacher retention, and the effectiveness of teacher practice. Understanding teacher motivation thus has the potential to contribute to enhancing learner and teacher experiences in Tasmanian schools.

This project will adopt a mixed methods approach to provide a big picture understanding of the professional contexts and experiences of primary teachers teaching languages across Tasmania and an in-depth longitudinal understanding of how these contexts and experiences impact on their motivation for language teaching and how this motivation manifests in practice. Novice teacher motivation is particularly important to understand because this early stage is crucial in supporting long-term professional motivation.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Mairin Hennebry-Leung


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years;
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000; and
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • A Masters in a relevant area
  • Knowledge of and experience in the Australian primary school system

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Mairin Hennebry-Leung, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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