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20162023

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Personal profile

Personal profile

Dr. Ju Seong Lee is an Assistant Professor and the Acting Head of the Department of English Language Education at the Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK). He is deeply committed to supporting underprivileged and marginalized groups and believes in promoting equity, informal and lifelong learning, and innovative teaching and research approaches in multilingual and multicultural environments.

Lee’s dedication to addressing educational disparities began during his extensive travels to 25+ countries over the past two decades. He started by volunteering in diverse local and international communities and organizations. For instance, he taught Korean language and culture to foreigners at the Gwangju International Center from 2000 to 2003. In 2001, he worked as a volunteer reporter for the Latin American Group in Wellington, New Zealand. Lee expanded his volunteering efforts by teaching English, Korean Taekwondo, music, and traditional Korean percussion quartet (Samul Nori) to children and local residents in New Zealand and Thailand in 2002. Lee was awarded the “Best Volunteer” honor by South Korea’s Ministry of Education in 2002. In 2003 and 2007, he also worked as a camp counselor, teaching music and organizing sports activities for teenagers at Camp Burgess and Hayward in Massachusetts, USA. In 2007, he volunteered as a teacher and mentor for undergraduate Mongolian and Russian students at Mongolia International University in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Lee’s involvement in community service extends beyond his short-term volunteer work. He served as an army translator from 2004 to 2006, facilitating communication between soldiers from Korea, the United States, Sweden, and Switzerland, and aiding multinational missions at the United Nations Command Security Battalion-Joint Security Area in South Korea. In 2009, he represented Kazakhstan on education for sustainable development matters at the Model UNESCO General Conference in South Korea. From 2010 to 2014, he worked as an English teacher and department head at Dream School, an alternative school in South Korea. In 2015, he participated in a Service Learning Project in Monument Valley, Arizona, where he supported 200+ high school students and teachers in the Navajo Nation.

Motivated by his volunteer and service experiences, Lee pursued research aimed at understanding and addressing the needs and challenges faced by language learners in formal educational systems. In 2014, he assisted in Dr. Mark Dressman’s Fulbright project, which aimed to design an alternative model for English education in Moroccan universities located in Rabat, Meknes, and Fes. Subsequently, Lee conducted research on Informal Digital Learning of English (IDLE) in various countries, including Morocco (2016), South Korea (2018), Indonesia (2019), Sweden (2021), Taiwan (2022), Kazakhstan (2023), Mainland China (2023), and Hong Kong (2023). His research findings highlighted the positive impact of IDLE on students’ grit, growth mindset, self-efficacy beliefs, emotions, motivation, vocabulary acquisition, willingness to communicate, speaking proficiency, intercultural communication skills, and well-being.

Lee’s current research interests revolve around ecological systems, inclusive/innovative pedagogy and research, and language empowerment in multilingual and multicultural environments. He examines IDLE through the framework of ecological systems theory, considering the broader environmental and structural factors that influence IDLE behavior and perceptions (Guo & Lee, 2023). Lee actively collaborates with pre-service and in-service teachers, as well as fellow researchers, to foster inclusive pedagogical approaches that harness the potential of emerging technologies (e.g., AI and the metaverse; Kiaer & Lee, 2023). He also uses innovative and interdisciplinary approaches, such as experience sampling methods, video-stimulated recall interviews, and cross-cultural comparative studies. Recognizing the transformative potential of language education in empowering individuals and communities, he co-founded the Language Innovation For Empowerment (LIFE) initiative in 2023, alongside colleagues from Stanford, Oxford, UNESCO, and EdUHK. Lee uses English and Korean at work, while his multicultural family at home speaks Korean and Japanese, and occasionally English, Mandarin, or a mix of these languages.

Lee values research that embodies compassion, empathy, and commitment, recognizing their real-life impact on the lives of those it serves. He firmly believes that without genuine care and compassion, research loses its significance and becomes mere noise. Guided by this belief, he seeks opportunities to mentor students, collaborate with like-minded researchers, and lead international and interdisciplinary projects. Originally from South Korea, Lee earned his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2018. If you are interested in exploring these exciting opportunities further, please feel free to connect with him.

Research interests

  • CALL (Computer-Assisted Language Learning): Leveraging technology for language education
  • IDLE (Informal Digital Learning of English): Advancing equity, quality, efficiency, and well-being through extramural digital platforms
  • Innovative Pedagogy with Design Thinking: Nurturing critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication skills
  • Learners’ Emotions and Well-being: Exploring the psychological dimensions of learning
  • Tech, Attention, and Learning: Studying how technology impacts attention, learning, well-being, and productivity
  • Supporting Marginalized Communities: Empowering underserved populations


External Appointments

Editorial Board Members

  • The International Journal of Applied Linguistics (2023–Present)
  • The Journal of Asia TEFL (2022–Present)
  • The Korea English Education Society (2019–2021)


Professional Association Committee

  • Founding member and Treasure, Language Innovation For Empowerment (LIFE) (Aug. 2023 – Present)
  • Director of SSCI, Asia TEFL (Jan. 2023 – Present)
  • Director of Research and Education, Asia TEFL (Jan. 2021 – Jan. 2023)
  • Committee member of Awards Professional Council, TESOL International (2019 – 2021)

Professional information

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

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