Keynote Speaker: Dr. Prem Phyak

Dr. Prem Phyak’s research focuses on social justice, critical pedagogy, multilingualism and multilingual education, decolonial turn and language policy. Keeping engaged and participatory approach at the centre, Dr. Phyak considers research as a transformative practice contributing to building equitable communities. As a critical applied linguist and teacher educator, he sees education as a social space that represents sociopolitical and epistemological inequalities. In his research, Dr. Phyak questions the relevance of dominant ideologies and epistemologies that shape legitimate knowledge, language, and pedagogy and engages multiple stakeholders to understand sociopolitical implications of educational
policies and practices.

Considering research as a community engagement effort, Dr. Phyak works closely with the communities of Indigenous/racialized people, language teachers (including ELT), and youth to understand how education reproduces sociopolitical, linguistic and epistemological inequalities. He has co-edited Multilingual Education in South Asia: At the Intersection of Policy and Practice (Routledge, 2022) and Innovative technologies and pedagogical shifts in Nepalese higher education (Brill/Sense, 2021) and co-authored a book Engaged language policy and practices (Routledge, 2017). He has published articles in various journals such as Language Policy, Journal of Language, Identity and Education, Language in Society, Current Issues in Language Planning, International Journal of the Sociology of Language, and Multilingua. He has been serving as a member of the editorial board of different journals. Through his
scholarship, Dr. Phyak advocates for decolonizing education and colonial ideologies and focuses on the importance of critical and decolonial turn in transforming education.

Currently, Dr. Phyak teaches at the Department of English of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He has taught at Tribhuvan University (TU) for more than a decade and served as Head of the Department of English Education at the Central Department of Education at TU.


Transformation as becoming: Understanding implicit and explicit transformations in participatory research


My talk addresses a simple question: what does transformation mean in educational research? For this, I analyze what transformative practices entail and what and how researchers can transform educational practices from the bottom-up. Drawing on ‘decolonizing research’ (Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999) and ‘teacher research’ (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999), I present how researchers can collaborate with teachers to transform the learning conditions of students in multilingual, multiethnic and under-resourced school contexts while transforming their own beliefs, ideologies and values about what counts as effective pedagogies. The data for this talk are drawn from two ongoing teacher participatory action research (T-PAR) projects in Nepal. First, I discuss how a personalized narrative writing approach could help teachers empower their students from low-socioeconomic and ethnic minority backgrounds. Second, I discuss some major transformative processes and lessons from a Teachers for Teachers (TfT) mentoring scheme. By analyzing a wide range of data sets such as interviews and multimodal data (e.g., artefacts, writing samples, storybooks and images), I theorize transformation as a process of becoming and discuss how participatory research engages teachers in becoming transformative agents. I focus on both implicit and explicit forms of becoming and draw some critical implications of participatory research in educational contexts. 

The recent publications of Dr. Phyak can be found at