An allegiance to Regent’s

Regent’s University London scores very highly on its British Council inspections – but how do they do it? Melanie Butler talks to Julian Kenny about keeping ‘on his toes’ and being ready for change

Julian Kenny is the head of the English Language Centre at Regent’s University London in Regent’s Park. His career has been divided between the university sector and language assessment.

Looking back to the beginning of your career what is the one thing that you know now, that you wish you had known then?
Like most newly qualified EFL teachers, I went through the initial intensive teacher training programme.
My first job was at a language school in Lisbon and shortly after that, I worked for an oil company in Angola training Angolans to take over the jobs of expats.

It was a bit of a shock suddenly being involved in English for Specific Purposes. I then moved on to examining, teacher education and, more recently, management.

What I learnt quickly is that you always need to be on your toes and ready for change.

Tell us a little about the English Language Centre at Regent’s University London. What makes you different – apart from your fantastic location in central London?

We have the most internationally diverse student body in the UK. The centre is fully integrated in the university and students have access to great onsite facilities.

Longer-term students are able to audit degree-level classes and then come back and discuss issues in individual sessions with English language teachers. Our students take part in the wide variety of events that take place on and off campus, including attending film events in the university cinema, helping out at the student fashion shows and joining in all of the social events that happen across the university.

Regent’s does spectacularly well on teaching and learning in its British Council inspections, scoring as well as Russell Group universities like Manchester and Sheffield. What do you think are the key attributes of great language teaching in a university setting?

Highly-qualified and experienced teachers! What I’ve also found is that Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is essential for everyone at every stage of their careers.

In the last couple of years at Regent’s, I have instigated a range of activities. Our teachers have their own individual budgets to spend on CPD, and they can choose to attend conferences, take external courses and share good practice. I have also introduced a number of activities for the ELT profession including the Future of ELT teaching conference. In the first year, this involved a panel discussion with international experts. Since then we have the teachers’ conference in association with Trinity College London.

We also have teacher education programmes including EMI and a new MA in Teaching and Learning.