Aleks Palanac FHEA

EAP Practitioner and University of Sanctuary Facilitator

EAP Practitioner and University of Sanctuary Facilitator

Personal profileAleks Palanac

I work for the ELTU as a tutor of English for Academic Purposes (EAP), predominantly teaching pre-sessional students wishing to join degree programmes at the University.

I am also heavily involved in our University of Sanctuary initiative, one of the key aims of which is to remove barriers faced by refugees and asylum seekers wishing to access HE. As an English Language Teaching Unit, we are well-placed to facilitate these students’ entry onto university-level programmes of study, and I have been working closely with others across the University and in other organisations to ensure that this can happen. More information about our University of Sanctuary work can be found here:

Over the years, I have gained Fellowship of Advance HE (FHEA), Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills Status (MIfL) and BALEAP Associate Fellow Status. I have also worked as an IELTS examiner and a Resources Specialist for the British Council’s ESOL Nexus website. My qualifications include: DELTA, PGCE in Post-Compulsory Education, an MA Oxon and a BA in English Language and Literature. I am also the founder and convenor of BALEAP's EAP for Social Justice SIG.

My current research interest is related to ways in which post-traumatic growth can be fostered in the refugee language classroom. This arose from a need identified by both myself and many other language tutors working with refugees (in the UK context and in Greece) to find strategies for mitigating the effects of trauma; in exploring the cross-section between trauma-informed pedagogies, positive psychology and ELT pedagogies, I have found that the language classroom holds a great deal of potential to function as a psycho-socially protective, nurturing environment for recovery and growth. More information about my research is available here:


Publications / Presentations / Workshops

Palanac, A. (2021 - in press). A shift from handmaidens to enlightened waiters: EAP practitioners for a grassroots Sanctuary movement. In B. Bond, A. Ding & M. Evans (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2019 BALEAP Conference: Innovation, Exploration and Transformation

Palanac, A. (2020). ‘Trauma-Informed Pedagogy in ELT for Refugee Students’, paper presented at Inclusion in ELT: Global Perspectives symposium, online, 28/11/2020,

Palanac, A. (2020) ‘A ‘”safe space” in “cyberspace”? Refugee students in synchronous online EAP classes’, EAP for Social Justice, 14 May. Available at:

Palanac, A. (2019). Towards a trauma-informed ELT pedagogy for refugees. Language Issues, 30(2), pp. 3-14

Palanac, A. (2019) ‘Working with trauma in the prison ESOL classroom’, workshop delivered at the Bell Foundation’s Teaching ESOL in Prison, Birmingham, 26/9/19

Palanac, A., Ullah, M. & Ulusow, H. (2019) ‘Breaking barriers: Creating pathways into, through and beyond Higher Education for sanctuary students’, workshop delivered at the Universities of Sanctuary conference, York, 4/9/19

Palanac, A. (2019). Renaissance of the Gatekeepers: Establishing a culture of welcome for refugees and asylum seekers at the University of Leicester’s English Language Teaching Unit. Special Section: Language learning for and with refugees in Higher Education, Editors: Fiona Dalziel and Francesca Helm. Language Learning in Higher Education, 9(1), pp. 117-125. DOI: 10.1515/cercles-2019-0006

Palanac, A. (2019) ‘Working within and around Neo-Liberal structures to build a University of Sanctuary’, paper presented at ACRE 2019: Beyond the Neo-Liberal University, Liverpool, 16/7/19

Palanac, A. (2019) ‘No Borders? The Role of Third Spaces in a University of Sanctuary’, paper presented at Global Challenges in Education: Teaching, Research and Policy, Preston, 9/7/19 (invited speaker)

Palanac, A. (2019) ‘Working with Trauma in the Refugee Language Classroom’, paper presented at NATECLA National Conference 2019, Birmingham, 5/7/19,

Palanac, A. (2019) ‘Renaissance of the Gatekeepers: Establishing a Culture of Welcome for Refugees and Asylum Seekers at the University of Leicester’, paper presented at the Convegno per un’Universita inclusiva e libera da discriminazioni Conference, Padova, 11/5/19 (invited speaker)

Palanac, A. (2019). Positive Psychology and Mastery of the L2 Academic Self. Journal of Language and Education, 5(2), 86-94.

Palanac, A. (2019) ‘A Shift from Handmaidens to Enlightened Waiters: EAP Practitioners for a Grassroots Sanctuary Movement’, paper presented at the BALEAP Conference, Leeds, 12/4/19, (pp140-141)

Palanac, A. (2019) Positive Psychology in ELT for Refugees. In Pattison, T. (ed) IATEFL 2018 Brighton Conference Selections. Kent: IATEFL

Palanac, A (2018) ‘Visualisation for Post-Traumatic Growth in ELT for Refugees’, paper presented at The Image Conference, Athens, 6/10/18,

Palanac, A (12/5/18) Beyond Resilience: Language for Post-Traumatic Growth in Female Refugees [webinar]. IATEFL’s From Crisis to Confidence: How Language Education is Helping Women in Refugee Communities. Retrieved from:

Palanac, A (2018) ‘Positive Psychology in ELT for Refugees’, paper presented at IATEFL Conference, Brighton, 12/4/18,

Palanac, A (2017) ‘Positive Psychology in ELT for Refugees’, paper presented at IATEFL GISIG / PronSIG Conference, London, 14/10/17

Palanac, A (2017) ‘Positive Psychology and Mastery of the Academic Self’, paper presented to NFEAP on EAP and Positioning, Oslo, 9/6/17,

Palanac, A (2016) Positive Psychology and Mastery of the Academic Self [podcast] BALEAP. Available at:

Palanac, A (2016) ‘Positive Psychology and Mastery of the Academic Self’, paper presented to BALEAP PIM on Learner Identity: Managing Transitions, Glasgow, 12/11/16,

Palanac, A (2016) ‘The Applications of Positive Psychology to ESOL’, paper presented to NATECLA Y&H ESOL Voices Conference, Leeds, 14/5/16,

Palanac, A. (2010) ‘ESOL and ICT: Time to Tie the Knot?’. Language Issues, 21(1), pp21-34

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