TESOL Connections

Quick Tip: WARP V—5 Principles of Language Assessment

by Baburhan Uzum

There is no shortage of language assessment materials available online, but the real challenge is to sift among the many and choose those that are valid, reliable, and effective. In this Quick Tip, find an easy-to-remember framework for evaluating assessment materials by looking for five specific qualities. 

Audience/Level: ESL/EFL teachers and teacher trainers of all levels

Assessment is often a fearsome topic for students and teachers alike. In most English as a second language and English as a foreign language contexts, the assessment of students’ second language skills is usually designated to a unit or testing center, and teachers do not have to worry about creating major tests in their daily activities. However, this does not mean that teachers never have to assess students’ language skills and never have to prepare their own assessment materials—they do, and they must adjust their instruction accordingly.

A common practice is to find online quizzes for in-class diagnostic purposes or as instructional activities. With the advent of technology, there is no shortage of assessment materials, and one can easily find many free online quizzes at various lengths in a given topic, but the real challenge is to choose valid and reliable ones in the abundance of such materials.

In this Quick Tip, I present an easy-to-remember framework so that teachers can evaluate the materials they find online by quickly looking for specific qualities. I have named this framework "WARP V," inspired by the well-known TV series Star-Trek. The activity name stands for the five major qualities of second language assessment: washback, authenticity, reliability, practicality, and validity (Brown & Abeywickrama, 2010). WARP V is an escalated speed in which a ship improves its performance to its peak, but not every ship can handle the WARP V speed—the weaker ships fall apart. Similarly, when teachers design or find a test, they can put it across the WARP V analysis and see how the test is doing across these benchmarks. If the test survives the WARP V analysis, it’s an effective test.





Washback is the learning from the assessment, either while preparing for it or remembering certain assessment experiences (e.g., going over the answers after the test). Positive washback refers to expected test effects. Negative washback refers to the unexpected or harmful consequences of a test. 

Are students learning from this test by taking it or preparing for it?

Does the test have any potential detrimental effects? 


Authenticity may be achieved by making the test more natural and meaningful. 

Is the language in the test as natural as possible?

Are items contextualized rather than isolated?

Are the topics meaningful (relevant, interesting) for learners?

Do the tasks approximate real-world tasks? 


A reliable test is consistent and dependable. If you give the same test to the same student or matched students on two different occasions, the test would yield similar results. 

Would the students score the same if they took the test again?

Are there any outside factors such as an illness, street noise, technology troubles, or other physical conditions that might impede students’ performance? 


An effective test is practical. 

Is the test affordable?

Does it stay within appropriate time constraints?

Is it easy to administer?

Does it have a scoring/evaluation procedure that is specific and efficient? 


Test validity refers to the extent to which inferences made from assessment results are appropriate, meaningful, and useful in terms of the purpose of the assessment. 

Is the test measuring what it is intended for or something else?

Is the test measuring the intended language skill or construct? 

The WARP V framework provides teachers a method to quickly evaluate assessment instruments before adoption and gives them a common language to talk about and reflect on their observations on a given assessment medium. For an example of the WARP V framework in use, see Appendix A (.pdf), and for a blank WARP V template, see Appendix B (.docx).


Brown, H. D., & Abeywickrama, P. (2010). Language assessment: Principles and classroom practices. White Plains, NY: Pearson Education.

Baburhan Uzum is an assistant professor in the Department of Language, Literacy, and Special Populations at Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA. His research interests include multicultural education and second and foreign language teacher education.

Free TESOL Journal Article: "Vocabulary Knowledge and Vocabulary Use in Second Language Writing"

by Mark D. Johnson, Anthony Acevedo, and Leonardo Mercado

This article discusses a small-scale pilot study examining the relationships among vocabulary knowledge, vocabulary use, and second language writing performance. Based on the results, the authors present potential uses of lexical frequency information to help students develop accurate productive knowledge of high-frequency word families and a repertoire of low-frequency word families based on their communicative needs. 

This article first appeared in TESOL Journal, Volume 7, Number 3, pgs. 700–715. Subscribers can access issues here. Only TESOL members may subscribe. To become a member of TESOL, please click here, and to purchase articles, please visit Wiley-Blackwell. © TESOL International Association.

Research has consistently shown diversity of vocabulary to be an important indicator of second language (L2) writing development as well as L2 writing performance. These studies underscore the importance of vocabulary to L2 writing. However, they provide little to indicate what kind of vocabulary learners of English may need to know in order to develop writing proficiency. This small-scale pilot study examined the relationships among vocabulary knowledge, vocabulary use, and L2 writing performance. The results suggest that accurate productive knowledge of high-frequency word families was associated with L2 writing performance. However, actual use of high-frequency word families was negatively associated with L2 writing performance. Based on the results, the authors present potential uses of lexical frequency information to help students develop (a) accurate productive knowledge of high-frequency word families and (b) a repertoire of low-frequency word families based on their communicative needs.

To say that vocabulary is important to writing seems obvious. However, to the practicing teacher of second language (L2) writing, vocabulary takes on added importance because L2 writers often struggle with limited vocabulary or with vocabulary that may have been only partially learned (Nation, 2001). Despite the importance of vocabulary to L2 writing performance, L2 writing researchers have offered little to inform L2 writing instructors' practice aside from the consistent finding that a greater diversity of vocabulary is associated with stronger L2 writing performance (Engber, 1995; Grant & Ginther, 2000). However, research is slowly beginning to inform the selection of target vocabulary for instruction and the types of knowledge that need to be developed to improve L2 writers' performance.

Originally designed to examine the size and development of L2 writers' productive vocabularies, early research used lexical frequency profiles to compare the vocabulary in L2 writers' texts to word frequency lists, typically the first (1K) and second (2K) 1,000 most frequent word families according to the General Services List (GSL; West, 1953) in combination with either (a) the University Word List (UWL; Xue & Nation, 1984) or (b) the Academic Word List (AWL; Coxhead, 2000). Vocabulary that did not appear in any of these lists was simply described as “beyond” the 2K frequency band.

The handful of studies using lexical frequency profiles to analyze L2 writers' texts have found that the use of vocabulary that appears less frequently in the English language—usually measured as decreased use of words from the 1K and 2K GSL list and increased use of words from the AWL or UWL and from beyond the 2K GSL list—is associated with L2 writing development over time as well as L2 writing performance (Laufer, 1994; Laufer & Nation, 1995). More recent studies using frequency lists based on the Bank of English corpus (Coniam, 1999), British National Corpus (Johnson, Acevedo, & Mercado, 2013), or specialty frequency lists generated from the participants' own writing (Verspoor, Schmid, & Xu, 2012) appear to support the findings of earlier studies using the GSL and UWL or AWL. To summarize the findings of these studies concisely, the use of words that appear less frequently in the English language is associated with stronger L2 writing performance as well as L2 writing development over time. Missing from research on vocabulary and its role in L2 writing performance is an exploration of vocabulary knowledge and its relationship to vocabulary use. In order to better understand this relationship, the following small-scale pilot study was driven by the following research questions:

  1. What are the relationships among receptive, productive, and aural vocabulary knowledge and L2 writing performance?

  2. What are the relationships among vocabulary use and L2 writing performance?

  3. How do stronger and weaker L2 writers differ in receptive/productive/aural vocabulary knowledge?

  4. How do stronger and weaker L2 writers differ in their use of vocabulary?


Download the full article and references for free (PDF)

This article first appeared in TESOL Journal, 7, 700–715. For permission to use text from this article, please go to Wiley-Blackwell and click on "Request Permissions" under "Article Tools."
doi: 10.1002/tesj.238

Evaluating Mobile Learning Activities

by Marķa Mercedes Kamijo
Mobile devices can be a central part of our classrooms. Learn how to determine whether a mobile learning activity is truly enhancing your students' learning. 

Mobile devices are a central part of our personal lives, and many educators and institutions around the world have adopted them as tools for engaging 21st-century learners. Mobile learning can enhance language learning by enabling instant access to updated information; communication with peers and experts through social networks; collaborative work; and the creation of digital artifacts that combine images, video, and sound.

The SAMR Model

As Hockly (2013) states, it is not the technology itself that enhances learning, but rather the use to which it is put. The substitution augmentation modification redefinition (SAMR) model (Puentedura, 2010) provides teachers with a useful framework for successful technology integration while it helps them design and evaluate mobile learning activities.

The SAMR model includes four different levels in which technology can be integrated in the classroom:

  • Substitution: Technology is just a tool substitute, with no functional change.
  • Augmentation: Technology still acts as a direct tool substitute, but with functional improvement.
  • Modification: Technology allows for significant task redesign.
  • Redefinition: Technology allows for the creation of new tasks previously inconceivable.

According to Romrell, Kidder, and Wood (2014), learning activities that fall within the substitution and augmentation stages are said to enhance learning, while learning activities that fall within the modification and redefinition classifications are said to transform learning (see Figure 1). The ratio of activities you use within each classification depends on the level of technology integration you are seeking. If your objective is to embed technology fully into your curriculum, you should aim for all of your activities to fall within the modification and redefinition classifications (so that all activities involving technology transform your students’ learning).

Figure 1. Explanation of the SAMR model, by Lefflerd, 2016. Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 4.0. (Click here for a larger version)

Classroom Tasks

In this article, I describe some task examples for each level of the SAMR model that can be adapted for different levels and ages.

An important point to consider before designing mobile learning activities is the physical limitations of mobile devices: small screens, no physical keyboards, inadequate memory, and short battery life. Therefore, tasks should be kept as brief and simple as possible.

1. Read a Short Story or Article

Substitution level: Share the PDF text via email or instant message, which students read on their mobile devices. Alternatively, they read an online version of the text. At this level, the students are substituting a text or book in paper format for a digital format such as PDF. There is no functional change because this activity can be done without a mobile device.

Augmentation level: Students use online dictionaries and web resources to supplement the reading activity. If the book is delivered in e-book format, students can bookmark pages, make notes, and highlight and save passages. Some e-book readers also include built-in dictionaries and alterable font sizes and styles.

Some recommended e-book reader apps: Kindle (iOS and Android) and Google Play Books for Android and iOS. Students can use Diigo to collaboratively take personal notes and highlight text information on web pages and PDF documents.

Modification level: Students use multimedia resources such as text, visuals, audio, and videos to support the reading activity and expand concepts. They do self-graded quizzes to test comprehension. Here is a list of tools to create quizzes easily: 10 Great Web Tools for Creating Digital Quizzes.

Redefinition level: Students go beyond the question-and-answer activity or quiz and engage in more complex reading comprehension activities, which they can post to their class blog or share on social networks. Some examples:

  • Using graphic organizers to visualize how ideas fit together and construct meaning. Some useful resources: Holt, Kidspiration, and Tools 4 Students.
  • Creating collaborative mind maps to demonstrate understanding of the story and its key elements. Check this list of recommended mind mapping apps and tools.

Students can also create a digital presentation or slide show, either individually or collaboratively, to summarize the text or focus on certain aspects. Google Slides is a popular tool for easy presentation creation. Check this list for alternatives: Best Classroom Tools for Presentations and Slide Shows.

2. Write a Short Story or Text

Based on examples provided by Walsh (2015), a writing activity can be adapted to the four stages of the SAMR model in different ways:

Substitution level: Instead of handwriting the short story on paper, students type it on their mobile device using a note-taking app or a digital tool such as Google Drive, Microsoft Office Online, Evernote, or Etherpad.

Augmentation level: As they write the texts on their mobile devices, students can highlight words, check spelling, and customize and format fonts and styles. They can also use voice-to-text tools to convert spoken language to written language.

Modification level: Students can enrich the text by adding images, sounds, animations, and videos. They can also write the text collaboratively using some of the online tools mentioned in the previous levels, and receive teacher feedback through comments and annotations on the document.

See The Best Online Writing Apps for Collaboration for a list of tools for collaborative writing.

Redefinition level: Students post their written productions to their class blog and share it on social networks such as Twitter or Facebook. Hashtags on Twitter make it easier for teachers and students to search for tweets about a specific topic.

An interesting way of distributing and sharing written work is by means of QR codes. A QR code can be read using smartphones and tablets, and they link directly to articles, websites, videos, and more in a matter of seconds.

3. Vocabulary Practice

Substitution level: Students use their mobile devices to take photographs of specific vocabulary items (objects, food, actions, emotions).

Augmentation level: Learners annotate and label the images using apps such as Thinglink, Pic Collage, or PicsArt. Annotation is a good way for students to illustrate their understanding of the word meanings. They can also share their images on Padlet, an online digital wall, and comment on their partners’ photos.

Modification level: Students create a multimedia presentation or slideshow on which they include the assigned vocabulary. Alternatively, instead of using photos, they can record videos showing the target vocabulary items.

Redefinition level: Students write a story or a short text with multimedia content to integrate the new vocabulary, either individually or collaboratively. Using apps such as Book Writer or StoryKit, they can turn their texts into e-books, which can be shared on the class blogs and social networks.


To conclude, mobile devices can transform traditional classroom tasks and become powerful tools to engage today’s learners—as long as pedagogy is prioritized over technology. Teachers should be aware of how any task—even those outside of mobile learning activities—is affecting their pedagogy, and they should consider how to address the technical, pedagogical, and management issues that will arise during the implementation of the mobile learning activity (Romrell et al., 2014).


Hockly, N. (2013). Mobile learning. ELT Journal, 67, 80–84. doi: 10.1093/elt/ccs064

Lefflerd (Artist). (2016). Explanation of the SAMR model. Retrieved from Wikiversity: https://en.wikiversity.org/w/index.php?title=Instructional_design/SAMR_Model/What_is_the_SAMR_Model%3F&oldid=1596851

Puentedura, R. (2010). SAMR and TPCK: Intro to advanced practice. Retrieved from http://hippasus.com/resources/sweden2010/SAMR_TPCK_IntroToAdvancedPractice.pdf

Romrell, D., Kidder, L., & Wood, E. (2014). The SAMR model as a framework for evaluating mLearning. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Network, 18(2). doi: 10.24059/olj.v18i2.435

Walsh, K. (2015, April 20). 8 examples of transforming lessons through the SAMR cycle. Retrieved from http://www.emergingedtech.com/2015/04/examples-of-transforming-lessons-through-samr/


Download this article (PDF)

María Mercedes Kamijo is an EFL teacher specialized in mobile learning and e-learning. She is a member of TESOL Argentina and currently teaches online courses in educational technology. She is coauthor of the e-book Mobile Learning: Nuevas realidades en el aula.

    Interactional Skills for EFL Learners

    by Samuel Crofts
    Learn about teaching discrete interactional skills, such as the use of interruptions and discourse markers, and try these classroom activities with your ELs. 

    Two years ago at the TESOL 2015 convention, at my first ever TESOL presentation, I discussed my move from teaching international students in the United Kingdom to teaching Japanese students in Japan and how the lack of willingness to communicate among my students had impacted my classroom approach. I went on to suggest that paying specific attention to teaching discrete interactional skills, such as the use of interruptions, tag questions, and discourse markers, could have benefits both in terms of classroom atmosphere and student confidence. (You can read about my approach here.) An end-of-semester survey had suggested that my students had never come across interactional skills in their pretertiary learning experience and that they had both enjoyed learning about them and found them useful in their in-class discussions.

    What this first project failed to expand upon, and what one of the more insightful questions posed in the Q&A session in Toronto asked, was whether students were likely to employ the skills I had taught them in real life intercultural situations or if they were simply doing what they were told to please their teacher. Well, 2 years have passed since that time, and my quest to help my students improve their interactional performance continues unabated. In the following paragraphs, I will expand a little on why I have persisted with this approach, why I think it matters, and how it may have helped my students outside of the classroom.

    What Are Interactional Skills?

    A quick Google search of the phrase “interactional competence” yields many hundreds of pages of research on how individuals acquire the ability (both in their first language and additional languages) to use various communicative resources in interactional settings, to accomplish certain goals and produce meaningful communication. These resources include devices to

    • begin and end interactions,
    • show understanding,
    • manage and change topic,
    • indicate disagreement or agreement, and so on.

    Of course, these elements of interaction do not operate in isolation, and there is a complex interplay between the interactional and linguistic features of any communicative event. However, to present the topic in a manageable way, I decided upon a set of separate and discrete interactional skills. Students are exposed to these parts of speech, asked to notice them in other people’s speech acts, and invited to incorporate them into their own. Four of these skills are summarized here:

    • Discourse Markers: Discourse markers in English such as you know, like, and I mean are often used in spoken English, in a similar way to eto and ano in Japanese.

    • Tag Questions: English speakers often use rhetorical tag questions to show they have finished talking and invite a response. Tag questions often have rising intonation, and include right?, ’you know?, and you know what I mean?

    • Listener Participation: Interactions are not one-way activities, and back channeling devices such as eye contact and simple sounds and words like ahh, mmm, and really? are often used show interest and engagement.

    • Disagreement: Clearly, there is no one way to disagree with another person, but rules for disagreement are highly culture specific and, therefore, presenting one or two methods for disagreement can be useful. One such method is for speakers to hide their disagreement in an agreement so there is a softer effect. Consider the below extract:

    A: London is an amazing place
    B: Yeh, the nightlife is great, but the city’s a bit dirty, you know?

    Why Teach Interactional Skills?

    In my own teaching context in Japan, I became convinced that one of the things inhibiting my students’ willingness to communicate with each other in English was a lack of knowledge of such communicative resources and a lack of experience of using them. Their preuniversity language training had been so focused on vocabulary expansion and grammar knowledge that English had effectively become stripped of its function as a communicative tool and students were at a loss when asked to engage in interactive activities.

    I therefore set about trying to equip students with a toolbox of discrete interactional skills for them to learn and practice. My goal was to help them to create and maintain comfortable interactions both in and out of the classroom and allow them to use the vocabulary and grammar knowledge they had already acquired in their language learning before university.

    Activities for in the Classroom

    All students have knowledge of at least one set of interactional skills, namely those common to their first language. Therefore, as opposed to complex meta language and theories of interaction, I typically introduce this topic with an exploration of important interactional skills of students’ own first language before moving on to English language examples. Activities can be adapted for use with multilingual groups or students at varying levels and can include the following:

    • Odd one out: Present students (ideally in video format) with three or four excerpts of their own language with one excerpt flouting the rules of interaction for that language. Students must identify and fix the problem excerpt.

    • Five features: Ask learners to come up with five features of everyday interaction in their first language and explain one of them to the class using examples.

    • Skill spotting: Show students authentic English language videos (see YouTube clips Podcast 1Podcast 2, and Podcast 3) and ask them to spot discrete interactional skills and total them up (e.g., the number of interruptions or the types of discourse markers used).

    • Script writing: Give students a set of social situations (first date, job interview, school reunion) and ask them to consider the typical features of interaction in such situations and write comprehensive scripts including pretaught interaction features (false starts, interruptions, etc.)

    Outside the Classroom

    As with all language teaching, the goal is for learners to be able to use the skills they acquire through study and practice to communicate with others. That said, departing from one’s native language interactional style can be a face-threatening activity and, as a result, plenty of controlled practice in the classroom is a necessary step in equipping students with the experience and confidence they need to use these skills in natural interactions that occur outside of the classroom.

    Reflecting the question posed to me back in Toronto—are students likely to employ the skills I had taught them in real life intercultural situations?—the final element of my interaction project is an assignment for students to video record themselves interviewing international students at the university. This gives students not only some “real life” practice but also creates a useful resource for reflection and, if repeated at the beginning and end of a course, an excellent yardstick to measure progress.


    Download this article (PDF) 

    Samuel Crofts has taught English at universities in China, the United Kingdom, and Japan. His main interests are the teaching of interactional skills as well as the creation of resources and activities to encourage students to engage with English outside of the classroom.


    Understanding Marginalization: The Privilege Walk Activity

    by Rachel Adams Goertel
    Try this classic activity with your students to help them learn about privilege, marginalization, social justice, and intersectionality. 

    English learners (ELs) bring diversity to a classroom. Becoming familiar with the backgrounds of ELs allows a teacher to engage students in literacy experiences that connect with these backgrounds, thereby building on relevant meaning for language learning and cultural awareness. Many teachers have used the Privilege Walk as a language teaching tool and as a cultural lesson to demonstrate how people benefit or are marginalized by systems in our society. The Privilege Walk requires risk taking and trust among your students, so it is better conducted once your classroom has built a sense of community and students have a high level of comfort with each other. It is an activity that your students will find personally moving. It is a good tool for students learning about privilege, marginalization, social justice, or intersectionality.

    This activity, best suited for secondary through adult students, demonstrates how power and privilege can influence our lives without our awareness. The objective of the Privilege Walk is to learn to recognize what personal experiences and factors have led to a privileged or marginalized life. This activity provides an opportunity to identify both obstacles and benefits experienced to better contextualize diversity within our society.

    It is a simple and easy activity, about 40–60 minutes. You need only a large space (preferably outdoors) and the list of questions provided in this article.


    To begin, this lesson will be a quintessential example of teaching “whole to part,” so you will not introduce vocabulary or preteach concepts.  ELs will participate in the Privilege Walk and then break down the meaning of the activity while building their knowledge together. If vocabulary is pretaught, ELs’ perspective of their responses may be influenced.

    Have students line up in one straight line facing forward. Stand facing the students. There must be enough space for the students to take at least 10 steps backward and 10 steps forward.

    Specifically instruct the students to

    • listen to each statement;
    • follow the instructions given (e.g., if you read “If you are a White male, take one step forward,” only White males will move—everyone else will stand still);
    • take steps of average length; 
    • take a step if they feel they qualify to do so, and to stay where they are if not; and
    • refrain from judging others—this is a very personal exercise, and each person decides how to respond and whether or not to take a step;

    Advise the students that this lesson may become uncomfortable. Tell them, “If you feel that your step movement reveals something you are not comfortable revealing, then do not take the step. Make your own judgment.”

    Read each Privilege Walk statement slowly, allowing students enough time to take a step. After all of the statements have been read and the students have spread out according to the steps they have taken, allow students  a few minutes to observe who has moved forward, who has generally stayed in the middle, and who has moved back. Ask the students:

    • How do you feel where you are?
    • How does it feel to be in front, in the back?

    Have everyone gather into a circle and facilitate debriefing and a discussion. Some students may be surprised or upset at the position in which they find themselves. Start by asking a few questions and encouraging others to respond:

    • What statements surprised you?
    • What statements had the most impact?
    • What does this activity tell us about American culture?
    • How does it relate to your culture(s) and experiences?

    Finally, to diversify instruction and meet the needs of learners who may be reticent to share their thoughts, have students write a reflective response on this experience using the prompt, “How did you feel about participating in the Privilege Walk, and how did you feel about your location at the end of the activity?”

    Follow Up

    Students could work in small collaborative groups addressing marginalization, the implications, and possible ways to bring awareness. They could share their main points with the class.


    There are many possible Privilege Walk statements. The following list contains the more common ones. Nevertheless, some questions are very personal. And, all of the students’ responses will be visible to others. Therefore, it is important to clarify to students before the activity begins that if they are not comfortable answering a question (taking a step) they may stay in place for that question. Also, some students may not want to participate at all; however, their input as observers should still be considered valuable.

    After the activity, be sure students have time to debrief, discuss, and write about their experience. If students want to talk further, offer an online forum or discussion board to keep communication open.

    Privilege Walk Statements

    Read the following statements in any order and modify as necessary for age appropriateness.

    • If you are a White male, take one step forward.
    • If you grew up in an urban setting, take one step backward.
    • If you have more than 50 books in your household, take one step forward.
    • If there have been times in your life when you skipped a meal because there was no food in the house, take one step backward.
    • If you have visible or invisible disabilities, take one step backward.
    • If you attended (grade) school with people you felt were like yourself, take one step forward.
    • If there have been times when you or your family have not had health insurance, take one step back.
    • If your work (school) holidays coincide with religious holidays that you celebrate, take one step forward.
    • If you often feel that your parents are/were too busy to spend time with you, take one step back.
    • If you feel good about how your identified culture is portrayed by the media, take one step forward.
    • If you have been the victim of physical violence based on your gender, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation, take one step backward.
    • If you are an international student, take one step forward.
    • If you are an immigrant, take one step backward.
    • If you can find Band-Aids at mainstream stores designed to blend in with or match your skin tone, take one step forward.
    • If you have ever felt passed over for an employment position based on your gender, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation, take one step backward.
    • If you were born in the United States, take one step forward.
    • If English is your first language, take one step forward.
    • If you have been divorced or impacted by divorce, take one step backward.
    • If you came from a supportive family environment, take one step forward.
    • If both your parents completed college, take one step forward.
    • If you rely, or have relied, primarily on public transportation, take one step back.
    • If you wear a headscarf of any kind for religious or cultural reasons, take one step back.
    • If you always assumed you would go to college, take one step forward.
    • If you come from a single-parent household, take one step back.
    • If you are a citizen of the United States, take one step forward.
    • If you took out loans for your education, take one step backward. If you can show affection for your romantic partner in public without fear of ridicule or violence, take one step forward.
    • If you have ever felt unsafe walking alone at night, take one step backward.
    • If you attended private school, take one step forward.

    After participating in this activity, students will be able to recognize some inequalities that exist in society. They will be able to better acknowledge their disadvantages and privileges, contextualize their own experiences, and learn about their peers. Through the final discussion and processing, students will be able to apply this activity to their lives to support social awareness.


    Download this article (PDF)


    Rachel Adams Goertel taught K–12 ESL for 15 years before pursuing her doctorate in composition and TESOL. Rachel’s scholarly work focuses on linguistics and second language acquisition. She is an assistant professor of education, TESOL at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York, USA, where she lives with her husband and son.