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Dr Maria Fernandez-Toro

Head and shoulders photo of Maria Fernandez-Toro

Profile summary

Professional biography

María Fernández-Toro is a Senior Lecturer in Spanish at the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics. She joined the Open University in April 2007 after seventeen years as a lecturer in Spanish at Newcastle University, where she co-ordinated a university-wide programme offering French, Spanish and German modules for non-language degrees.

Since joining the Open University, she has worked on the development of several OU Spanish courses, contributing as an author to a number of OU Spanish course books, AV materials and and e-learning resources. She also was in charge of the production team for the core introductory module L161 Exploring languages and cultures and is now chairing the module's first presentation. She also authored the Hairy Bikers OpenLearn resource on Intercultural Communication, in collaboration with the Open Media Unit and the BBC.

Her main research interests are assessment and feedback in language learning, independent learning and learner motivation. More recently María has been exploring new research directions in intercultural studies with special attention to multilingual singing. Her publications include the book D.I.Y Techniques for Language learners (London: CILT, 2001; with F.R. Jones), which also illustrates her own approach to teaching and learning.

Research interests

María Fernández-Toro has research interests in two main areas:

  • assessment and feedback (especially self- and peer- assessment)
  • music, language and intercultural learning (musilingual practices)

Maria was Project Director for the e-Feedback Evaluation Project (eFeP), an evaluation of spoken and written e-feedback on language assignments. This project was externally funded as part of the JISC Assessment and Feedback Programme. Her paper entitled Eliciting students’ voices through screencast assisted ‘feedback on feedback’, which was one of the outputs for this project received the EDEN 2013 Best Research Paper Award.

Following her work in the design and production of the new module L161 Exploring languages and cultures, Maria was also engaged in an internal scholarship project to evaluate and promote the integration of employability skills in the Languages curriculum. As a member of the MAGICC project team, her contribution focused on developing and evaluating self-assessment resources for intercultural competencies and skills in academic and professional contexts.

She is currently developing a new research strand in intercultural studies that focuses on the relationship between multilingual singing and translanguaging, intercultural competence and intercultural citizenship..

Teaching interests

María has been working in British Universities since 1989 and has taught French and Spanish at all levels, both as a core degree subject and as an optional module. She was also Director of Languages for the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics for three years, leading the French, Spanish and German teams for Diploma, BA, and MA level qualifications.

María was Module Team Chair during the production of the core introductory module L161 Exploring languages and cultures, to which she also contributed as an author and block coordinator. She is co-chairing the module.

As a member of the Spanish team, she wrote and coordinated several units for the Spanish module L314 A Buen Puerto when this module was revised for the 2012 online edition. She has since contributed to the production of several Spanish modules including L194 Portales, L204 Viento en Popa and its latest edition L226 Spanish Studies 2. She is currently writing for the new L336 Spanish Studies 3.

In 2012 she produced an OpenLearn resource on Intercultural Communication, consisting of a collection of online multimedia articles based on the BBC Hairy Bikers series Bakeation.

She is currently a research supervisor for EdD and PhD students and is willing to consider postgraduate research proposals in any of her research areas, including assessment and feedback, distance and self-directed learning, language learning, language and music, and intercultural competence.


Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)CentreFaculty of Education and Language Studies


Repositioning peer marking for feedback literacy in higher education (2021)
Fernández-Toro, Maria and Duensing, Annette
Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education ((Early Access))

Using screencasts in the teaching of modern languages: investigating the use of Jing® in feedback on written assignments (2018-08-18)
Green, Hannelore; Harper, Felicity and Fernández-Toro, Maria
The Language Learning Journal, 46(3) (pp. 277-292)

Evaluating alignment of student and tutor perspectives on feedback on language learning assignments (2018)
Distance Education, 39(4) (pp. 548-567)

Eliciting students’ voices through screencast assisted ‘feedback on feedback’ (2015)
Fernández-Toro, María and Furnborough, Concha
European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, Best of EDEN 2013-2014

A model of factors affecting independent learners’ engagement with feedback on language learning tasks (2014)
Fernández-Toro, Maria and Hurd, Stella
Distance Education, 35(1) (pp. 106-125)

Feedback on feedback: eliciting learners’ responses to written feedback through student-generated screencasts (2014)
Fernández-Toro, Maria and Furnborough, Concha
Educational Media International, 51(1) (pp. 35-48)

Are the principles of effective feedback transferable across disciplines? A comparative study of written assignment feedback in Languages and Technology (2013)
Fernández-Toro, María; Truman, Michael and Walker, Mirabelle
Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 38(7) (pp. 816-830)

What do adult learners make of their own errors? Understanding individual differences in foreign language learning (2009)
Fernandez-Toro, Maria
Reflecting Education, 5(2) (pp. 66-84)

The role of paired listening in L2 teaching (2005)
Fernandez-Toro, Maria
Language Learning Journal, 31(1) (pp. 3-8)

DIY techniques for language learners (2001-05)
Fernandez-Toro, Maria and Jones, Francis R.
ISBN : 1-902031-46-6 | Publisher : CILT Publications | Published : London, UK

Training Learners for Self-Instruction (1999)
Fernández-Toro, Maria
ISBN : 1 902031 02 4 | Publisher : CILT | Published : London, UK

Multilingualism and musical practices: Singing in “other” languages (2019)
Fernández-Toro, Maria
In : BAAL Multilingualism SIG Inaugural event (8 Jul 2019, London)

Evaluating the integration of Jing® screencasts in feedback on written assignments (2012-09)
Harper, Felicity; Green, Hannelore and Fernandez-Toro, Maria
In : 15th International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning (26-28 Sep 2012, Villach, Austria)

Learner training; from strategy awareness to actual language improvement (2002-06)
Fernandez-Toro, Maria and Wilczynski, Andrea
In : Setting the agenda: Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies in Higher Education (24-26 Jun 2002, Manchester Conference Centre)

eFEP Final Evaluation Report (2013-10-04)
Fernández-Toro, Maria; Furnborough, Concha and Polisca, Elena