September 2017
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Riah Werner & Anastasia Khawaja

Riah Werner
National Pedagogical Institute for Technical and Professional Training,
Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

Anastasia Khawaja
University of
South Florida,
Tampa, Florida, USA

Hello SRIS,

Thank you for taking the time to read our Identity, Inclusion and Advocacy issue. We live in turbulent times, and as socially responsible English language professionals, there’s a pressing need for us to engage with all three of these issues. Teaching and learning English doesn’t happen in a political void, and we have a responsibility to counter the hate and exclusion that dominate the news cycle. As teachers, teacher educators, researchers and materials writers, we can bring messages of acceptance and inclusion into our work. It is our responsibility to create classrooms and materials that validate all students and a professional community that makes space for diverse perspectives.

As editors of this newsletter, we strive to do our part by showcasing the voices of a diverse and international set of TESOLers. The writers whose work is featured in this issue provide insights into how we can create an inclusive environment for both our students and ourselves as professionals, demonstrate the impact of political situations on students around the world, and call for us to reach beyond the bounds of our profession as we advocate for our learners. Their perspectives are their own, and our newsletter should be taken as a forum for our membership to share their views about issues that are important to them, which may or may not reflect the opinions or official positions of TESOL International. The strength of this issue comes from the range and quality of the submissions we received and we are honored to share these voices with you. The theme for our next issue is Social Justice in the Classroom, and we strongly encourage you to share the ways you integrate social issues into your classes with the SRIS community. If you’re interested, please read the Call for Submissions and consider writing an article for the December issue.

This issue begins with letters from our leadership team. Laura, our chair, shares the results of our SRIS survey, which identified nine streams that highlight the range of areas we as an interest section advocate for in our work. There is also an overview of the ways you can engage with SRIS online, from Kimberly, our community manager.

Next, we have five articles focused on identity, inclusion and advocacy within TESOL. In the opening article “NNEST Issues are not just about NNESTs,” Seullee Talia Lee invokes all three topics as she examines the power of NNEST identity transformation and the need for NESTs to engage in advocacy alongside their NNEST peers. Next, Timothy Krause’s “Queering the ESL Classroom: A Case Study” offers a step by step description of how he integrated queer themes into an English course at a community college in the United States. Next, we have three powerful explorations of the impact of the legal and political context in different countries on English students. Jessie Bakitunda’s article, “Child Protection Inadequacy in the Ugandan Education System,” explores the role of children’s rights in Uganda, calling for more student input into the creation and enactment of laws about education. In “Competing Identities and Education in East Jerusalem,” Mahmood K. M. Eshreteh offers a personal reflection as to how Palestinian identity is excluded from schools and educational materials by the Israeli authorities, which negatively affects the education of Palestinian students. Lastly, in “Advocating for Undocumented Students in Anti-Immigrant Times in the United States,” Lori Dodson, Anne Marie Foerster Luu and Shelley Wong document the political discourses and laws that have been put forth against undocumented immigrants in the United States and call all of us in the field of TESOL to action.

We end the issue with two personal reflections on ways of reaching out to engage in advocacy beyond our field. In, “Empowering Educators and Administrators by Attending the TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit,” Maria Betancourt shares her experience as a participant in TESOL’s Advocacy Summit last June and encourages all teachers to envision advocacy as part of our work. In our final article, “Diversity and Inclusion in Another World: Beyond Rhetoric to Reality,” Andy Curtis provides insight into the surprising parallels he has found between TESOL and his work with Diversity and Inclusion initiatives in an investment firm in the United States.

These articles provide insight into the ways politics affect students around the world and demonstrate the need for TESOLers to engage in advocacy on behalf of our students and colleagues. As last month’s tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, a city just over a hundred miles from TESOL headquarters, illustrates, there are those out there who may meet our voices of resistance with hostility or even violence, but that only adds to the urgency of speaking out against bigotry. Thank you, SRIS, for your courage.


Riah and Anastasia

Riah Werner is an English teacher and teacher trainer who has taught in Tanzania, South Korea, Thailand, Ecuador and Cote d’Ivoire and trained more than 200 teachers. She holds an MA in TESOL from the SIT Graduate Institute. Her research interests include drama and the arts, social justice in ELT, and locally contextualized pedagogy. She documents her projects and blogs about the academic articles she reads at

Anastasia Khawaja has been in the TESOL teaching profession for 10 years. She is a doctoral candidate in second language acquisition/instructional technology at the University of South Florida. Her dissertation research focuses on the emotions associated with languages that Palestinians use in Palestine and in the diaspora. She currently holds the position of senior instructor at INTO University of South Florida and has international teaching experience in Peru, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

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SRIS Survey Results
The SRIS Survey identified the following strands:
  • Gender & ELT
  • Social Justice in Teacher Education
  • Peacebuilding & ELT
  • LGBTQ+ & ELT
  • Global Education
  • Environmental Responsibility
  • Immigrant Rights & Access to Education
  • Racial, Linguistic & Cultural Discrimination
  • Advocating for ELs
Next Issue's Theme: Social Justice in the Classroom
How do you incorporate social justice into your classes with English learners or teachers in training? Share your practical ideas on creating lessons that center social issues and raise students’ awareness. Submissions due 1 November.