Dr Gillian Skyrme staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (06) 356 9099  ext. 83572

Dr Gillian Skyrme PhD

Senior Lecturer in English for Academic Purposes and Linguistics

School of Humanities

I bring to my work at Massey University a wealth of experience as a teacher of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) which impacts strongly on my teaching and research in the university. The practical and varied classroom experience of teaching English and working with second language learners informs my work on the Master in Applied Linguistics programme, with its strong focus on taching and learning languages. My interest in and experience of second language learners and their endeavours to engage in the complexities of study and everyday life, has provided a basis for my own research, including my  PhD thesis, 'Expectations, emerging issues and change for Chinese international students in a New Zealand university', which won the Applied Linguisics Association of New Zealand award for the best NZ thesis in Applied Linguistics in 2008. It also contributes to my role as a supervisor of postgraduate research in our Applied Linguistics suite of qualifications.

I am part of a resarch team allied to the Massey University / Beijing Language and Culture University Joint Research Centre in Applied Linguistics, which has a focus on one-to-one video-conferencing in the distance teaching of the Chinese langauge. In that capacity I draw on my experiences as a long-time language learner, and in particular beginner level learner of Chinese.

I maintain an active presence in the TESOL profession, through membership of TESOLANZ (Teachers of ESOL Aoteaora New Zealand). I volunteer at a local level for English Language Part  ners as a tutor trainer, and at a national level have an advisory and consultation role. I am secretary of the Applied Linguistics Association of New Zealand (ALANZ). I co-edited the journal of that organisation, New Zealand Studies in Applied Linguistics, from 2006 to 2012, and am now an editorial assistant for it. I have been involved in the organisation of conferences for both TESOLANZ (Convenor of CLESOL 2012) and ALANZ.

I joined Massey University in 2002 after many years of TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) in a range of settings -- private language school, polytechnic, community -- in Britain, New Zealand and China. My research has centred mainly on aspects of the presence of international students in the university, from the perspectives of teachers and students. In recent years I have added research into the distance learning of Chinese as part of a team from Massey and Beijing Language and Culture Universities. In community settings I continue to work extensively with English Language Partners nationally and locally,

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Contact details

  • Ph: 00646 9516572
    Campus: Manawatu


  • Doctor of Philosophy - Massey University (2008)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

International students

identity and agency in learning and using a second language

Teachers of international students

Writing for academic purposes for ESOL students

English language learning in community settings

Distance teaching and learning of Chinese

Video-conferencing in language learning and teaching

one-to-one language learning and teaching

My research has been qualitative in nature, and in most cases longitudinal.


21st Century Citizenship

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Curriculum and Pedagogy (130200): Education (130000): LOTE, ESL and TESOL Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. Maori) (130207)


Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

TESOL Teacher education

International Students

University teachers of international students

Second Language Learning

Learning English in community settings

Applied Linguistics

Distance language teaching

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 0 5

Completed Projects

Project Title: Academic practice to support international students at Massey University

This is a small scale research project to investigate the current practice of academic staff in relation to international students whom they teach or supervise. We have investigated: 1) knowledge of academic support that is available, such as course advice and academic pathways; 2) understanding of second language implications and cultural strengths and challenges; 3) practices to support international students in the classroom; and 4) an indication of any measures the staff members see as enhancing their ability to support international students. Academic staff in three Colleges have been interviewed covering a range of disciplines and of levels of involvement with international students.
Read Project Description Hide Project Description

Date Range: 2013 - 2013

Funding Body: Massey University

Project Team:

Research Outputs

Consultancy and Languages


  • 1994 ongoing - English Language Partners
    I have had a range of consultation contracts over the years, and am a current member of the ELP Board Academic Committee.
  • 2018 - University of Auckland
    Qualification reviewer BA(TESOL)
  • 2010 - 2107 - IPU New Zealand Tertiary Institute
    Member of the Advisory Board External moderator
  • 2010 and 2015 - AUT University
    Qualification Review Panelist
  • 2014 - 2016 - Otago University
    External moderator for postgraduate papers
  • 2014 - 2017 - Palmerston North City Environmental Trust
    Trust member


  • French
    Last used: Recently
    Spoken ability: Average
    Written ability: Needs work
  • Italian
    Last used: A while ago
    Spoken ability: Needs work
    Written ability: Needs work

Teaching and Supervision

Teaching Statement

I began my teaching career with an intensely practical Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from International House, UK, one of the precursors to the current Cambridge Certificate. This was followed up with enrolment in the Diploma of Second Language Teaching from Massey University, a qualification which, in its current evolution as the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Linguistics, I now teach on. My TESOL teaching has been in a wide range of contexts, from large classes in a traditional Chinese university, to private English language centre and polytechnic classes, one-to-one tuition, English language suppor,t and English for Academic Purposes for ESOL leatners at university level. Since 2002, I have added distance teaching and Linguistics classes at Massey University to my repertoire.

All in all, this ensures that the teaching I provide for the students on our qualifications is practical, informed by understandings of educational theories, and driven by a socio-constructivist approach, seeking to involve students actively in the process of their learning. It also means that I have insight into most of the contexts that the second language teachers on our Postgraduate Diploma and Master of Applied Linguistics courses are reflecting on in their assignments. I therefore provide feedback which recognises the logistical realities of those contexts as well as the concurrent desire to strive to meet the highest possible standards. My role as facilitator of one of the Teaching and Learning Circles which Massey University staff can voluntarily join over a period of several years is testament to my deep interest in the teaching process, my intent to maintain excellence as a teacher on my own behalf, and my desire to particiapte in a process of peer support for colleagues.

I bring the same approach to my work as a supervisor, working hard to provide support to students developing skills in a very new area.

Courses Coordinated

  • 272.704 Contextualising Curriculum and Materials Design
  • 272.873 Research Report

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Supervisor 1 2
Co-supervisor 5 6

Current Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • Lin Li - Doctor of Philosophy
    A Corpus-based research on the use of verb and noun collocations by advanced English-speaking learners of Chinese and the construction of Chinese collocation knowledge database

Co-supervisor of:

  • Liping Chen - Doctor of Philosophy
    How New Chinese Immigrant Families Adapt to New Zealand's Education System for Their Children
  • Huan Huang - Doctor of Philosophy
    The Dynamics of Willingness to Communicate in Synchronous Chinese Online Language Teaching and Learning
  • Kanokphan Tongpong - Doctor of Philosophy
    Language Teacher Agency in English for Medical Purposes in the Thai Tertiary Context
  • Chujie Dai - Doctor of Philosophy
    The speaking strategies and agency of New Zealand learners of Chinese in one-to-one videoconferencing sessions with native speaker teachers
  • Eugenia Butler - Doctor of Philosophy
    Expressions of voice and trajectories of writers' selves in academic writing: Transitioning from an academic bridging course to postgraduate programmes

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • 2020 - Geraldine McCarthy - Doctor of Philosophy
    Responses to linguistic and cultural diversity in New Zealand state secondary schools: A qualitative study
  • 2018 - Douglas Rapley - Doctor of Philosophy
    Blurring the boundaries: Japanese students negotiating their experiences in a New Zealand tertiary institution with international characteristics

Co-supervisor of:

  • 2018 - Siti Nur'Aini - Doctor of Philosophy
    Identity-agency and life-course agency of English teachers in Tegal, Banyumasan area, Indonesia
  • 2018 - Fahd Hamad A Alqasham - Doctor of Philosophy
    "Virtual social network-mediated English language learning in a Saudi tertiary EFL context: Innovation and agency"
  • 2018 - Martin McMorrow - Doctor of Philosophy
    Developing writing pedagogy and tertiary learning advice in a disciplinary programme at a New Zealand university
  • 2017 - Prudence Fry - Doctor of Philosophy
    Acquiring a new discourse: Using action research to explore a study group for mature-aged open entry students in their first semesters at university
  • 2014 - Hong Anh Pham - Doctor of Philosophy
    Innovation and Identity in Web 2.0 Environments: Perspectives and Experiences of Vietnamese University Teachers and Learners of English
  • 2014 - Angela Feekery - Doctor of Philosophy
    Conversation and Change: Integrating Information Literacy to Support Learning in the New Zealand Tertiary Context

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