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Dr Lesley Ljungdahl


Dr Ljungdahl has taught in schools in London, Australia and worked as a teacher-librarian in Canada. She has presented papers in the area of literacy and ESOL at conferences in Baltimore (1994), California (1995), Chicago (1996) and New York (1998). Her main areas of interest are in TESOL, TEFL and literacy/learning related issues as well as international studies with a focus on the People’s Republic of China.

She has regularly participated in overseas practicums in Kunming, PRC and Apia, Western Samoa.

Lesley is a past-president of ATESOL (NSW), the Association for Teachers of English as a Second or Other Languages. From 1989-1995 she was the Director of the Student Learning Centre on the Kuring-gai Campus of UTS.
She has presented papers at conferences in Beijing, London, Havana and Granada (2004). She has been a Visiting Scholar at both Macquarie University and Sydney University (2005).

Image of Lesley Ljungdahl
Associate of the Faculty, School of Education
Core Member, Centre for Research in Learning and Change
DipEd (STC), DipLib (London), BA (Hons) (UNSW), GradDipIntSt (UTS), GradDipEdStudESL (UOW), MA Appl Linguistics (UTS), MLS (McGill), MA (Hons) (Syd), MA (Concordia), PhD (UNSW)
+61 2 9514 5255

Research Interests

ESL, literacies, language and literature
Current research involves: literacy assessment; editing guidelines
PhD completed: Catherine Helen Spence

Can supervise: Yes

English Education, Children’s Literature, Australian Literature, Teaching ESL, Approaches to the Teaching of English

Book Chapters

Ljungdahl, L. 2011, 'Teaching English spelling: Why the problem?' in Beatrice Boufoy-Bastick (ed), The International Handbook of Cultures of Teacher Education: Comparative International Issues in Cur, Analytrics, Strasbourg, pp. 301-323.
English spelling has many vagaries of pronunciation. Students find difficulty with the most unpredictable and non-literal aspects of English and decisions must be made about the most effective strategies to help students learn. In order to teach spelling, instruction is needed in how to use phonological, visual, semantic and etymological knowledge. Inconsistencies in language features make learning difficult, but there are strategies to help teachers and students to make spelling, pronunciation easier to understand and remember.
Ljungdahl, L. 2010, 'Multiliteracies and Technology' in Gordon Winch, Rosemary Johnston, Paul March, Lesley Ljungdahl, Marcelle Holliday (eds), Literacy:Reading,writing and children's literature, Oxford University Press, England, UK, pp. 399-422.
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Good writing is a recursive process of moving through different stages of composition, not simply of putting words on a page. Since so much revision is needed-in thinking, changing ideas, and developing style-computer technology has become an essential tool for many writers. Used effectively, it can save valuable time and lead to writing that is accurate, well organised, and full of interesting ideas. In the classroom, teachers with technical competence can use word-processing, blags, webquests, e-pals and the treasure trove of information on the internet to motivate their students to want to write. Navigating the internet, evaluating websites, word-processing, desktop publishing, and using the (smart' board are all skills that assist the writing process. Spelling and grammar checks can help the writer as well as writing software such as the Writer's Toolkit.
March, P. & Ljungdahl, L. 2006, 'Grammar skills in the classroom' in Venetia Somerset (ed), Literacy: reading, writing and children's literature, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
March, P. & Ljungdahl, L. 2006, 'Punctuation skills in the classroom' in Venetia Somerset (ed), Literacy: reading, writing and children's literature, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
March, P. & Ljungdahl, L. 2006, 'Spelling skills in the classroom' in Venetia Somerset (ed), Literacy: reading, writing and children's literature, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
March, P. & Ljungdahl, L. 2006, 'Assessment and writing' in Venetia Somerset (ed), Literacy: reading, writing and children's literature, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, pp. 292-315.
March, P. & Ljungdahl, L. 2006, 'Information & communication technologies' in Venetia Somerset (ed), Literacy: reading, writing and children's literature, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, pp. 316-334.
Ljungdahl, L. & March, P. 2004, 'Writing skills in the classroom: Punctuation and Grammar' in Winch G, Johnston R, March P, Ljungdahl L, Holliday M (eds), Literacy: Reading, Writing and Children's Literature, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 221-239.
Ljungdahl, L. & March, P. 2004, 'Writing skills in the classroom: Handwriting and Spelling' in Winch G, Johnston R, March P, Ljungdahl L, Holliday M (eds), Literacy: Reading, Writing and Children's Literature, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 195-219.
Ljungdahl, L. & March, P. 2004, 'Teaching Writing In the Classroom' in Winch G, Johnston R, March P, Ljungdahl L, Holliday M (eds), Literacy: Reading, Writing and Children's Literature, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 272-307.
Ljungdahl, L. & March, P. 2004, 'Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)' in Winch G, Johnston R, March P, Ljungdahl L, Holliday M (eds), Literacy: Reading, Writing and Children's Literature, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 258-271.


Winch, G., Johnston, R.R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L. & Holliday, M. 2004, Literacy: Reading, Writing and Children's Literature, 2nd, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, Australia.

Conference Papers

Currie, J.L. & Ljungdahl, L. 2012, 'Pre-Service Teacher Perceptions of Health Literacy.', 19th International Conference on Learning., London, UK, August 2012.
The development of usable, realistic health and living skills education programs is essential in today's world. These programs are imperative for the health, well-being and personal development of all school aged children. One objective of teacher training in health education is to develop the knowledge and skills required for the planning and implementation of effective school programs. However what are the beliefs, values and behaviours of the student pre-service teacher regarding her/his notions of physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual health? While it is expected that through future classroom teachers have sound health literacy skills relating to the knowledge, attitudes and skills required to maintain health, little research has been undertaken. Therefore this paper explores perceptions of pre-service primary school teachers regarding aspects of health literacy in relation to current curriculum.
Ljungdahl, L., Maher, D., Buchanan, J.D., Currie, J.L. & Staveley, R.M. 2012, 'Swimming for new horizons: targeting retention and success for future teachers.', The International First Year in Higher Education Conference. New Horizons. 15th International FYHE Conference 2012., Brisbane, June 2012 in New Horizons. 15th International First Year in Higher Education (FYHE) Conference., ed Nelson, K., First Year in Higher Education., Brisbane, pp. 91-91.
Strategies to maximise success and retention of first year pre-service teachers.
Ljungdahl, L. 2002, 'Pre-service Teachers Abroad: Australians in the Peoples Republic of China', 9th International Literacy and Education Research Network conference on Learning, Beijing, China, June 2002 in New Learning: Proceedings of the Learning Conference 2002, ed Cope B; Kalantzis M, Common Ground Publishing, Altona, Vic, pp. NA-NA.
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Journal Articles

Ljungdahl, L. 2014, 'Should I stay or Should I go: student retention and success', The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 11-23.
Currie, J.L. & Ljungdahl, L. 2013, 'Pre-Service Primary Teacher Perceptions of Health', The International Journal of Adult, Community and Professional Learning, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 59-67.
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This paper presents results of qualitative research exploring pre-service primary school teachers' (n=133) perspectives of health. Findings revealed five main themes to emerge defining health as (a) a state of health; (b) health as wellbeing; (c) components or dimensions of health; (d) lifestyle practices; and (e) health as a physical concept. As a consequence of the survey's findings and in consideration of the new national curriculum, future adjustments incorporated into our teacher training will include taking a strengths-based approach to teaching about health, recognising that all young people have particular strengths and building on these, develop positive attitudes and avoid a risk-based behaviour change model;further development of health literacy skills for selectively accessing and critically analysing health information required to help solve or find help for an identified range of health issues or problems; and increasing understanding of the social construction of health and the influence of a range of individual, interpersonal, organisational, community, environmental and policy influences. The responses have also determined that a greater emphasis will need to be placed on prevention and the reduction of health inequalities in the promotion of health.
Ljungdahl, L. 2013, 'Literature: Benefits in an Age of Globalisation', The International Journal of Literacies, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 53-62.
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In an age of globalisation and digital evolution, the literature curricula can be valued as contributing to a humanistic ideal or regarded as an anachronism. The goal of fostering reading habits through literature is to improve literacy standards and, significantly, help readers to learn about themselves and the wider world. In teacher education programs it is imperative to develop an appreciation of what literature can offer beyond the utilitarian aspect of encouraging language skills. The `usefulness+ of literature lies in the empathy it can engender towards others and the inspiration of opening the reader to new worlds. Critical awareness is important so readers can judge the accuracy and import of information they receive. Literature can offer pleasure and learning through an appreciation of ideas from a range of authors, inspire creative ideas, improve vocabulary and develop literacy skills (reading, writing, speaking, viewing). Examples are drawn from texts used in the Australian National Curriculum which includes literature by authors from different cultures of the world. Literature is a window onto great occasions in history, providing unique perspectives which can engage the imagination. Access to literature may be through the iPod, the web and those ICT applications which have potential to complement the reading experience, engage interest and enhance learning outcomes. The experience of the `book+ (the linear printed book format) can be enriched through multi-modality.
Ljungdahl, L. 2012, 'Literature: Benefits in an Age of Globalisation', The International Journal of Literacies, vol. 19, no. 2012, pp. 1-10.
Ljungdahl, L. 2011, 'Mobile Technologies: Enhancing Teaching in Australian Literature', International Journal of the Book, vol. 8, no. 2011, pp. 1-14.
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The purpose of this study is to explore teaching practices which incorporate mobile learning technologies in order to improve learning in the delivery of subjects in the Humanities. The focus is an Australian literature subject offered to students enrolled in a Bachelor of Education. Many students of the `Z+ generation appreciate the style of learning and pattern of communication promoted by the use of mobile technologies (Green & Hannon, 2007). Podcasts and video podcasts have the potential to engage students+ interests and enhance learning outcomes. Distinctive characteristics of mobile learning tasks relate to flexibility, autonomy, authenticity. Mobile technologies can facilitate conversations and social networking as well as individualise the access, production and exchange of information. The experience of the `book+ can be enriched through multi-modality. While examples are drawn from the field of literature, the strategies are relevant to various areas of study and have applications for primary, secondary and tertiary teachers.
Ljungdahl, L. 2010, 'Creative Strategies with Literature: Developing Literacy in the Classroom', International Journal of Learning, vol. 17, no. 7, pp. 391-398.
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This presentation describes strategies for using literature to facilitate literacy in the primary school classroom. Critical research information is given on links with reading and the development of children+s writing. Teachers can put theory into practice by activities that engage the imagination and stimulate the acquisition of reading and writing skills. While phonological awareness is important in learning how to read, the context of a literary text (particularly of picture books) can assist language understanding (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997; (Galda & Cullinan, 2005). The words and picture of literary texts provide a catalyst for generating ideas, which deepen understanding and interest in language learning (Cole & Maddox, 1997). The activities described are based on popular award- winning children+s literature (e.g. Li Cunxin+s The Peasant Prince amongst others) and are suitable for the 5+ 12 year old age range.
Ljungdahl, L. 2008, 'Strategies to Improve Literacy Standards Using Creative Arts', International Journal of Learning, vol. 15, no. 5, pp. 57-63.
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The improvement of literacy standards is an important goal for educators. This paper focuses on how activities and strategies from the Creative Arts can enhance the learning of literacy, particularly for young learners (Kindergarten - Year 6). However, the strategies can be adopted and adapted for older age groups. Art, children's literature, drama and information technology - all have the potential to inspire students to achieve (Winch et al. 2006). Literacy skills are important since they are the bedrock for learning in all disciplines. Innovative ideas to improve reading, writing, listening and speaking are drawn from the Creative Arts. Stimuli is provided from popular writers and their award winning texts. The writer and illustrator Anthony Browne in The Shape Game offers many artistic ideas to engage students. Similarly, Shaun Tan's wordless picture book The Arrival and Li Cunxin's extraordinary The Peasant Prince: The True Story of Mao's Last Dancer, provide opportunities for literacy and drama activities in the classroom. The animated television characters of Graeme Base's Animalia can serve as a springboard for teachers to encourage literacy
Ljungdahl, L. 2007, 'Teaching English in Samoa: Coming of Age', The International Journal of Learning, vol. 14, pp. 1-7.
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The expansion of English as a global language as a language of communication involves issues of cultural and linguistic diversity (Cummins, 1997). 21 student-teachers from an Australian university had the opportunity to give English language instruction in four Samoan primary schools. They undertook a 3 week international teaching practicum program (in 2006) and this experience provides the contextual background for an exploration of issues in English language teaching in Samoa. Observations of their teaching experiences showed that communicative language approaches to second language teaching worked successfully. In particular, picture books, language games and the use of songs with their music, rhyme, rhythm and repetition helped the acquisition of English language. Paradoxically, the practicum highlighted the importance of the maintenance of vernacular languages and the costs and benefits of teaching English. The reality of their classroom experiences contributed to reflective teaching practice and a raised awareness of the significance of indigenous culture
Ljungdahl, L. & Prescott, A.E. 2007, 'Teachers' use of diagnostic testing to enhance students' literacy and numeracy learning', The International Journal of Learning, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 461-476.
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The importance of literacy and numeracy skills is paramount in most societies, their acquisition essential for communication and employment. This study set out to determine whether teachers using multiple choice assessment tasks could enhance student learning in literacy and numeracy. A software program that gave the teachers access to the results in terms of preset strands was provided to one group of teachers and the other group used the traditional techniques of looking over the students+ test papers. It focuses on the testing of students using standardised PAT (Progressive Achievement Test) comprehension and mathematics tests with the intervention of a software tool (AutoMarque) which is intended to expedite analysis of the results. While much research has been carried out on literacy and numeracy testing, relatively little attention has been paid to the significance of speedy feedback and analysis of results which can lead to improved pedagogy. Constructive teacher feedback following assessment tasks assists students+ learning and provides them with the skills they need to improve performance in subsequent assessments. This study highlighted the difficulties that time-poor teachers have in implementing new technologies despite their commitment to assessment for learning.
Ljungdahl, L. 2006, 'ESL education: theory and effective practice in the creative classroom', International Journal of Learning, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 1-10.
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paper focuses on ESL education and the learning/teaching process. It discusses developing skills and understandings which encourage students to become creative and confident communicators. Multifaceted learning experiences allow primary and secondary school students to use their imagination within the confines of syllabus requirements. While practical classroom activities are suggested for the different modes of reading, listening, speaking, viewing and representing, the main focus is on writing tasks. The strategies take into account the expansion of computer use in learning and teaching. The challenge is to use information and communication technologies as liberating, productive and creative resources to help students learn the English language. Ways to use the Internet in the 'writing' classroom include creating a classroom story, epals, web quests, role-plays, debates and games. The role of games is emphasised in promoting successful language learning. The various practices are based on current theories about the nature of language and language learning/teaching (Ur 1996; Harmer 2001; Nunan 2004).
Ljungdahl, L. 2006, 'Internationalisation: Teaching English in the People's Republic of China', The International Journal of Learning, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 73-80.
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Ljungdahl, L. 2004, 'The English language and linguistic imperialism: The Trojan Horse?', The International Journal of Learning, vol. 10, pp. 1-17.
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Lingustic imperialism can arise from the global spread of English. Pedagogic practices are suggested for the English language classroom.
Ljungdahl, L. 2004, 'Cultural encounters in the People's Republic of China', International Journal of Learning, vol. 11, pp. 1-10.
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