July 2018
TESOLers for Social Responsibility



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

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

Hello SRIS,

It has been a challenge to find the words to write over the past few weeks as advocates and activists are faced with seemingly insurmountable tasks as the headlines unfold every day, multiple times a day. However, just as our academic session at the TESOL convention closed with advice from Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, this post convention newsletter opens with it. He said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

These words have become a kind of a daily mantra for us to live by during these fraught times. There are entirely too many heartbreaking stories to list. We have all seen the news. These continuously unfolding events bring opportunities for more protests, more marches, and more advocacy for so many groups of people. In this newsletter, we are proud to bring you helpers whose work exhibit hope, inclusivity, and a call to get involved and come together. In this issue, we continue conversations started at the convention. We highlight not only the work of this interest section, but also we underscore the crucial value many of the social justice related professional learning networks bring to the TESOL organization as well. As always our authors’ 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 Association.

In contrast to the divisiveness that has become so prevalent in the news, the SRIS newsletter focuses on the ways we can create inclusive educational spaces and advocate for solidarity within our professional communities. This issue begins with Riah Werner’s Black Spaces and White Norms: The Importance of BELPaF for the TESOL Community, a reflection on the history of the Black English Language Professionals and Friends Professional Learning Network and the importance of maintaining supportive spaces for underrepresented groups within TESOL. Shifting to focus on classroom experiences, James D. Mitchell draws connections between his research and his life experiences in order to highlight the necessity of inclusive classroom spaces for the success of LGBTQ+ language learners in Invalidated Identity and Foreign Language Anxiety: A Personal Reflection. Focusing on how administrative decisions can affect students, Jennifer Burr’s Social Intelligence Course Implementation for English Learners describes how a school district in Texas designed a course to help newcomer students develop the social and emotional skills they need to be successful in their new environment. Next, in The Neighbor’s Window: A Visual World Foundation Project on Bystanders Becoming Upstanders, Zsuzsanna Kozák and Ildikó Lázár outline classroom activities from a project they conducted in Hungary, which used images from the Holocaust to help students counter the bystander effect and learn to speak up in the face of injustice.

We conclude this issue with Cinthya Salazar’s thoughtful review of Teachers as Allies: Transformative Practices for Teaching DREAMers and Undocumented Students, edited by Shelley Wong, Elaisa Sánchez Gosnell, Anne Marie Foerster Luu, and Lori Dodson, the first selection for SRIS’s book club. Salazar highlights the urgent needs for resources to help teachers and administrators working with undocumented students in the US, and outlines the ways this book fills that gap, drawing particular attention to the way students’ own voices are incorporated into the book. We hope you will join us in reading Teachers as Allies, and participate in online discussions with the editors and other members of the SRIS community throughout August and September. Please check our Facebook page for more information and to share your thoughts about the book.

As our communities continue to be impacted by the continuous barrage of breaking news day in and day out, how do we continue to deal with this? How can we be reminded we are not alone in the fight? Don’t worry SRIS! We have your back;). Our next issue is about allyship! This issue will be dedicated to discussing the responsibility we hold to be allies, as well as advice about self care. Please see the call for submissions and consider contributing to another timely, crucial issue for our interest section and for TESOL.

Just as this letter opened with a quote of hope, allow us to end with the words of the great John Lewis, civil rights icon, American hero, and the United States Congressman representing Atlanta, the site of next year’s TESOL convention. There is truly nobody better to look to during this trying time. Representative Lewis has tweeted several times, encouraging everyone to get out and take action, following his tweets with the hashtag #goodtrouble. “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” Well SRIS, let’s make good trouble! Continue to fight, continue to advocate, and remember, we are all in this together.


Anastasia and Riah

Anastasia Khawaja has been in the TESOL teaching profession for 11 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.

Riah Werner is an English teacher and teacher trainer who has taught in Africa, Asia and South America. She is currently an English Language Fellow based in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, where she has designed a national continuing professional development project for in-service teachers. Her research interests include drama and the arts, social justice in ELT, and locally contextualized pedagogy. She documents her projects and blogs about the articles she reads at riahwerner.com.


Hello SRIS Colleagues!

It was exciting to see many of you at our open meeting at the 2018 convention in Chicago, and likewise to be communicating with you online. As cochairs of the SRIS for 2018-2019, Carter Winkle and I are really excited to share some updates and opportunities with all of you.

Open Educational Resources

It’s been an exciting year for me personally, having had the opportunity to collaboratively develop an open education resource (OER) online course that has a creative commons license (CC BY 4.0), meaning that the materials can be retained, reused, remixed, and redistributed freely for other educators to use and build upon. I’ve come to learn about how these OER materials can become a way of creating more equitable learning opportunities for colleagues and learners in the field, especially those in low-resource environments, which connects well to our work in social responsibility. I’d encourage all of you to explore using and creating these resources as contributions to the field. You can find more information here and here. Some OER resource sites that are especially useful for English language teaching include LINCs for Adult English Instruction, Excelsior Online Writing Lab, EFL OER Resources, as well as these sites for OER images that you can use freely: pixabay and unsplash. Consider uploading your own local images to help build a culturally and contextually relevant repository of images that we TESOLers can utilize. Here is a video and article by of one of our TESOL colleagues who licensed his teaching tip on using fidget spinners as CC BY 4.0 so that other teachers can use it freely. The Morningside Center has some U.S.-based teaching resources for Social Responsibility that are not OER, but free for teachers to use in their classrooms related to social and emotional learning and restorative practices.

SRIS Activities

This past year was busy and exciting. We collaborated on two webinars this spring. The March webinar was a collaboration with the TESOL Diversity Collaborative (TDC), and featured EdChange founder Paul Gorski: “Why Educators Need Equity Literacy More than We Need Cultural Competence.” The second webinar, extended from the convention intersection with the Teacher Education Interest Section (TEIS) and the TDC: “Integrating Social Justice into Teacher Education and Classroom Practice” on April 18th. We hope to have a few more webinars this year. Please let us know what topics and speakers you are interested in bringing to our interest section this year.

Get involved

We are excited that through the feedback from our members, we have identified four “Areas of Advocacy” within the SRIS to empower members to lead initiatives in the areas listed below. The leaders for each area have volunteered to head up focused initiatives and we hope you will engage in networking and collaborating on projects with them. Please reach out directly to the leaders below to share your ideas and availability.

They are these:

  1. ELL Advocacy, including political concerns and immigrant rights (led by Georgios-Vlasios Kormpas, Babak Khoshnevisan & Christine E. Poteau)

  2. Intersections of Identity in Language Teaching, including--but not limited to--non-native speakerism, race, gender, and sexuality (led by Hemamalini Ramachandran)

  3. Professional Learning, including teacher education, materials/curriculum development, and social justice resources development (led by Chris Leider)

  4. Global Education, including peace and environmental education (led by Yecid Ortega)

Also in aligning with TESOL International Association’s new strategic plan, we are hoping to extend our SRIS interactions more equitably to our global network and identify and build upon our expertise in SRIS. We’d like to collaborate with affiliates and would like to hear what matters most to you in your context!

Looking forward to the great work we will do together this year!

Warm Regards,

Heidi Faust,

SRIS Cochair

Heidi Faust is currently the Director of TESOL Professional Training Programs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Culture.



TESOL International Association (2018a) “values and seeks diverse and inclusive participation within the field of English language teaching” in both principle and practice and lists “respect for diversity, multilingualism, multiculturalism, and individuals’ language rights” as one of its core values, as befits an international organization with membership spread throughout the world. TESOL’s membership includes teachers from around the world and the presenters at the 2018 Convention, held in Chicago, Illinois, USA, represented dozens of countries, spanning all six populated continents. Yet the annual TESOL Convention typically follows Western academic procedures and the adjudication process rewards proposals that are “well-written” and “cutting edge.” This benefits speakers of standard Englishes who are familiar with Western academic contexts and who have institutional access to current scholarly publications over those without these privileges. The Convention is also held in North America, typically in the United States, a highly racialized society. These factors combine to create a conference environment that, by privileging White norms, is not racially neutral.

This situation invites us to reflect on the ways Whiteness is normalized through everyday practices and discourses in our field. Kubota and Lin (2006) write that “it has been argued that Whiteness exerts its power as an invisible and unmarked norm against which all Others are racially and culturally defined, marked, and made inferior” (p. 483). To ensure that TESOL is enacting its core values of respect for diversity and multiculturalism in practice and not just principle, we need to make sure that the annual Convention is not imposing White norms on all its members. One way we can do this is by supporting the work of TESOL’s Black English Language Professionals and Friends (BELPaF) Professional Learning Network.

While I’d heard about the BELPaF Forum during my first TESOL Convention, it wasn’t until this year’s Convention in Chicago that I was able to attend their annual business meeting. BELPaF, which is explicitly inclusive, “exists to enhance the professional growth and development of ESOL professionals of color and to support the needs of ESOL students of color and their teachers,” and “welcomes the participation of all who are interested in issues affecting students and teachers of color worldwide” (Black English Language Professionals & Friends, 2018).

Although anyone with an interest in supporting students and teachers of color is welcome in BELPaF, I was one of just two White TESOLers who chose to attend. As such, I was aware that I was operating in a space in which the onus was on me to conform to a set of norms rooted in a shared racial identity that I don’t belong to. I was acutely aware of how different the Black-centered space felt in contrast to the rest of the TESOL Convention. Developing this awareness among other White TESOLers is crucial, because “the invisibility of Whiteness…allows Whites to evade responsibility for taking part in eradicating racism” (Kubota & Lin, 2006, p. 483).

I was also struck by the diversity within BELPaF, represented by the nuanced ways people identified themselves during the round of introductions. As Ibrahim (2014) writes, “Blackness is a historically contingent category that is always-already multicultural (Jamaicans are not Ghanaians), multilingual (Black Brazilians speak Portuguese while Tanzanians speak Swahili), multiethnic, multinational and more than ever heterogeneous.” BELPaF’s membership directly attests to the multifaceted nature of Black identity. By creating a space where Blackness is the norm, BELPaF centers this diversity, allowing self-identifications to take precedence over reductionist perceptions that define Black people solely by their race.

At the BELPaF meeting, there was much discussion of the change from Forums to Professional Learning Networks (PLNs), which meant that the very meeting I was at was the last of its kind. This is because TESOL considers PLNs to be “informal, discussion-based groups” (TESOL Board Approves Final Phase of Governance Restructuring, 2018) and, as such, will no longer provide rooms for PLN meetings at the annual Convention. As Lavette Coney, the chair of BELPaF, put it when she opened the final meeting, “we have been further marginalized.”

This feeling of increasing marginalization grows out of the decades-long diminishment of BELPaF’s formal status within TESOL. Mary Romney, who served as the first chair of the International Black Professionals and Friends in TESOL (IBPFT) Caucus after its official recognition by TESOL, recounted the group’s history during the meeting. I was shocked to learn that what is now BELPaF started as the Standard English as a Second Dialect Interest Section, an interest section that explicitly addressed how to teach Standard English to speakers of other dialects, including African American Vernacular English (AAVE). This interest section served as a home for many Black TESOLers, but was dissolved in the late 1980s because of low membership numbers. After its dissolution, the former members met informally at the Convention each year, until Connie Perdreau founded the IBPFT Caucus at the 1992 TESOL Convention in Vancouver, Canada. In 1997, Mary Romney applied for IBPFT to become a formal membership entity within TESOL, which was approved provisionally and then made permanent in 1999. However, in 2006, the Caucus Review Task Force was formed, and the following year, the caucuses were replaced with Forums, conceived of as independent entities separate from TESOL. IBPFT renamed itself BELPaF, and was granted a non-adjudicated academic session and a meeting space at each year’s Convention along with its Forum status. This continued until the recent governance restructuring, carried out from 2014–2017, led to the reformulation of TESOL’s communities of practice.

The new system was formally instituted in May 2018 (TESOL International Association, 2018), just after the Chicago Convention, with many Forums transitioning to PLN status, including BELPaF. Though TESOL states that “the PLNs have been created to provide a flexible model for groups like Forums to be recognized and be part of the association’s governance system” (TESOL Board Approves Final Phase of Governance Restructuring, 2018), this formal recognition as TESOL entities is accompanied with a decline in material support. As outlined in the TESOL Communities of Practice Procedure Manual (TESOL International Association, 2017), TESOL provides PLNs with an online discussion platform, a staff contact who will help establish the PLN’s presence on myTESOL, and the ability to submit a Convention proposal to the Conferences Professional Council to be adjudicated. Because this session may or may not be accepted during the adjudication process and TESOL does not guarantee meeting space for PLNs as it did for Forums, there is no assurance of any in-person contact for PLN members at the annual Convention. Though I believe that this change was not made with the intention of marginalization, the removal of institutional support that accompanies the shift to the PLN structure disproportionally affects BELPaF and other identity-based PLNs that represent marginalized groups within the TESOL community.

In-person meetings are particularly important for BELPaF members, because Black TESOLers are underrepresented within the field and at the annual Convention. As I debriefed with my grad school classmates after my first TESOL Convention, in Baltimore, Maryland in 2016, I noticed how the experience I had, of finding a racially diverse group of conference attendees with a prominent core of Black TESOLers, was a direct result of having chosen to attend all the race-focused sessions on the program. At sessions without an overt racial focus, like those the majority of my classmates chose to attend, the absence of Black TESOLers was so common as to not be noticed and White norms prevailed.

When it’s more typical for Black TESOLers to be absent than present in any given professional setting, the result is the exception(al) syndrome (Nero, 2006). As Nero (2010) writes, “The problem with having so few faculty (or professionals) of color, is that one person (the exception) is made to carry the burden of the group (for better or worse).” BELPaF is an example of a space where Black TESOL professionals are able to be “normal,” able to both succeed and screw up, without constantly “trying to disprove the negative stereotypes associated with people of color” (Nero, 2010), which Nero warns against. The normalization of Black teachers can also disrupt the dangerous cycle that leads Black students to believe that “Blacks themselves should not expect to be teachers because most teachers (at least in the United States) are White” (Nero, 2006, p. 24). If these students see examples of successful Black TESOL professionals, such as those within BELPaF, they are more likely to enter the profession.

BELPaF creates a space where racial awareness that includes Black experiences is the norm. Questioning whether Black lives matter in bilingual education, Flores (2016) points out that current practices within his field simultaneously position native English speakers as White and erase the experiences of AfroLatinx Spanish speakers. Bilingual education programs also regularly ignore language variation, including AAVE. As a TESOLer, I find these same dynamics to be present in our field as well. Knowing that TESOL once had an interest section dedicated to exploring the acquisition of Standard English as a second dialect, a topic I rarely see discussed today, makes Flores’s inclusion of AAVE here particularly powerful. He writes that because anti-Blackness is prevalent in U.S. society, institutions perpetuate anti-Blackness unless they explicitly acknowledge and work to dismantle it. In his words, “anything less than this is tantamount to treating Black lives as if they don’t matter” (Flores, 2016).

Within TESOL, BELPaF is a powerful force asserting that Black lives do matter. It has striven to dismantle anti-Blackness, brought awareness to the specific needs of Black English language learners (ELLs) and suggested tangible ways teachers can create more racially equitable classroom practices. In an enlightening article that asserts Black ELLs are “no longer the silent subgroup,” Cooper, Bryan and Ifarinu (2016) point out “the picture of an English learner that most often appears in one’s mind is not a child of African [descent].” This leads to Black ELLs being viewed as exceptional. As a result, their needs are too rarely considered. The linguistic variation within the Black ELL community is also extensive and often overlooked. The Black community includes speakers of Standard English and AAVE; colonial languages, such as Spanish, French, and Portuguese; Caribbean English and English Creoles; and African languages and varieties of English. Black ELLs are present in every region around the globe, both in Africa and throughout the diaspora. Both ESL and EFL teachers can work to ensure they are affirming the languages and identities of Black ELLs, considering Black experiences in professional development programs and doing the outreach needed to welcome elders and leaders from the community into the classroom (Cooper, Bryan, & Ifarinu, 2016).

By bringing attention to the needs of Black TESOL professionals and ELLs, as well as other racialized groups within TESOL, BELPaF has been doing important work in service of TESOL’s mission of “respect for diversity, multilingualism, multiculturalism, and individuals’ language rights” (TESOL International Association, 2018a). By carving out a space separate from the White norms that prevail at the annual Convention, BELPaF supports Black TESOLers, who are given a break from being the exception. By raising awareness of Black ELLs and encouraging antiracist pedagogies, BELPaF helps the entire TESOL community consider and respond to the needs of the many, many students of color we teach. All of this work makes TESOL a stronger organization. I hope TESOL recognizes and supports BELPaF fully as it transitions to being a PLN, instead of contributing to the marginalization of an already marginalized section of our community.


Black English Language Professionals & Friends. (2018). Statement of purpose. Retrieved from https://my.tesol.org/communities/community-home?CommunityKey=774b62ef-32ff-44ca-943f-f5b67d8514ab

Cooper, A., Bryan, K. C., & Ifarinu, B. (2016). No longer the silent subgroup. Language Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.languagemagazine.com/no-longer-the-silent-subgroup/

Flores, N. (2016). Do black lives matter in bilingual education? [blog post]. Retrieved from https://educationallinguist.wordpress.com/2016/09/11/do-black-lives-matter-in-bilingual-education/

Ibrahim, A. (2014) When the black body is made black: Rethinking the nuances of blackness. Black Ottawa Scene. Retrieved from http://blackottawascene.com/awad-ibrahim-when-the-black-body-is-made-black-rethinking-the-nuances-of-blackness/

Kubota, R., & Lin, A. (2006). Race and TESOL: Introduction to concepts and theories. TESOL Journal, 40, 471–493. doi:10.2307/40264540

Nero, S. (2006). An exceptional voice: Working as a TESOL professional of color. In A. Curtis & M. Romney (Eds.), Color, race, and English language teaching: Shades of meaning (pp. 23–36). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Nero, S. (2010). Shondel Nero: NNEST of the month [blog post]. Retrieved from http://nnesintesol.blogspot.com/2010/07/shondel-nero.html

TESOL Board Approves Final Phase of Governance Restructuring. (2018, January). TESOL Connections. Retrieved from http://newsmanager.commpartners.com/tesolc/issues/2018-01-01/2.html

TESOL International Association. (2017). TESOL communities of practice procedure manual. Retrieved from http://www.tesol.org/docs/default-source/education-programs/cop_procedures-manual-4-26-18.pdf

TESOL International Association. (2018a). Mission and values. Retrieved from http://www.tesol.org/about-tesol/association-governance/mission-and-values

TESOL International Association. (2018b, May 8). TESOL instates communities of practice. Retrieved from http://www.tesol.org/news-landing-page/2018/05/08/tesol-instates-communities-of-practice

Riah Werner is an English teacher and teacher trainer who has taught in Africa, Asia, and South America. She is currently an English Language Fellow based in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, where she has designed a national continuing professional development project for in-service teachers. Her research interests include drama and the arts, social justice in ELT, and locally contextualized pedagogy. She documents her projects and blogs about the articles she reads at riahwerner.com.


I am a White, gay cis-man from Southern Louisiana. My upbringing was characterized by antifeminist sentiments, White supremacy, homophobia, and conservative values. I was bullied relentlessly throughout middle and high school, and I heard homophobic slurs almost every day. Hardly any teachers at my school assisted in stopping the harassment, and I was forced to suffer through it until graduation. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to move to the West Coast of the United States when I began college, where I attended a very liberal, progressive university. I found solidarity in my women’s studies courses, mended any hint of internalized homophobia, and learned a great deal about social issues and equity. Though the student body was not entirely liberal, I never really worried about someone being derogatory toward my historical and personal lived experiences as a gay man. I was truly fortunate.

However, in my first 2 years of college, I enrolled in a Japanese course, which met every day for 1 hour. Because it was my first time ever being on the West Coast and away from the Deep South, I brought preconceived, negative notions about how professors and other students might respond to my flamboyant behavior, any mention of my relationship with my boyfriend, or references to anything that might indicate that I was a gay man. Though I later discovered I had nothing to worry about, my life experience growing up as a gay man in the Deep South informed some of the anxiety I had about speaking in a second language in class. I was very cautious and attempted to stay ambiguous about my sexuality.

Foreign language anxiety then became a personal topic of interest to me. Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1986) define foreign language anxiety as a situation-specific anxiety that surfaces in the foreign language classroom and affects even those who may not normally experience anxiety. The emotions I felt in my Japanese class, which were related to avoiding conversation because of possible homophobia, were the inspiration for the topic of my master’s thesis. In my research about the relationship between foreign language anxiety, gender identity, and sexual identity (Mitchell, 2018), one of my main findings, broadly put, was that the lived experiences and identities of my participants shaped the anxiety or lack of anxiety they felt in a language learning context. One theme that emerged is one that I labeled as invalidated identity. I define the act of invalidating someone’s identity as “when one’s character, personality, or an experience that has shaped them is judged, dismissed or denied by another or in a larger context (such as politics)” (Mitchell, 2018, p. 115). My participants, who were four lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and other sexual minority (LGBTQ+) university students learning foreign languages, discussed avoiding conversations with students they assumed were homophobic or sexist, disassociating from class discussions, or dreading attending class because of students’ and teachers’ behaviors that colluded to oppression.

To illustrate this point, I discuss Mark (a pseudonym), a White masculine presenting “skater dude” from a conservative East Coast area. Mark and I have a couple of similarities: both of us are White cis-men who grew up in very homophobic places. Mark, too, took a Japanese class when he first started taking courses at his university. One day during his Japanese course, he chose to identify himself using atashi (あたし), a feminine first person pronoun that he felt most comfortable using at the time. However, after using this term in his class, the teacher told him his response was incorrect because of the wrong choice in pronoun. Before Mark had a chance to respond or explain himself to the teacher, as to whether he would “correct” himself to use the neutral first person pronoun watashi () or an informal, masculine pronoun such as boku (), the teacher moved on to ask another student the question. As a result, Mark received a low participation score for the day. We do not know if the teacher was homophobic; it could have just been a problematic assumption. Nonetheless, such experiences are invalidating because the implication was that Mark’s choice in gender expression was incorrect, that his identity was wrong.

I, too, would possibly feel invalidated and hurt if I were in Mark’s situation. Invalidated identity resonates with me because of my own experiences with oppression. I lost friends when I came out to them, and as a result, I avoided getting close to others out of fear I would be rejected for who I am. My father and I have not spoken in more than 10 years. I listened to well-meaning, accepting people use microaggressions like “That’s so gay” about things they believed were stupid. Even people who I called friends told me they did not believe in gay marriage. This ideology carried over into my work as well. I was phased out of my part-time job when a supervisor learned that I had interest in men. When I began teaching English as a second language, I had students ask me why I did not have a girlfriend and tell me how I should get married to a beautiful woman. These experiences were hurtful. However, all of these experiences made me who I am today. They have contributed to the motivation I have to be successful throughout my career, the anxiety I experience in possible, oppressive situations, and the self-confidence I have had to build in the face of adversity.

The experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals are numerous and vary. There are possibly many LGBTQ+ folks who have the same kinds of stories. Many of them might have had much more devastating life circumstances; some of them might have had more fortunate upbringings. Intersectionality, a term used by Crenshaw (1989) to explain how one’s identities overlap, sheds more light on the diversity of experiences. How does my experience differ from, for example, a queer Black woman’s? Or someone’s who is trans? In the context of the foreign or second language classroom, how do these identities influence the anxiety that a student could experience in a foreign language classroom? We take our identities wherever we go. We carry our lived experiences with us, and with them come the pain, trauma, and anguish as well as the happiness, joy, and pleasure. We do not leave them at the door when we walk into any classroom.

The language classroom is a place where learners can build language authentically by using their personal interests or facts about their life. Teachers who have not experienced oppression, who might also not have examined their privilege, might easily cause a student to feel anxious by ostracizing them, even accidentally. For example, what happens when a teacher assigns students to have a debate in class about a sensitive topic related to identity, such as legalizing same-sex marriage or whether Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization? What happens when a homophobic, racist, or sexist event happens in the classroom, and a teacher chooses to ignore it? What happens when a teacher does not have classroom management strategies to create inclusive, accepting spaces to prevent harassment in the classroom? In any of these circumstances, how might a student feel? For this reason, it is important to think about how a student’s identity can influence foreign language anxiety.

Teachers should be aware of the ways their actions might invalidate the identity of their students. The language classroom is made up of people from different cultures, lived experiences, and multifaceted identities. As teachers, we actively need to avoid oppression because students “may not be invested in the language practices of a given classroom if the practices are racist, sexist, or homophobic” (Darvin & Norton, 2015, p. 37). If a student feels that a classroom harbors oppressive practices, it is possible that anxiety will manifest because of traumatic, hurtful, life-shaping experiences. Therefore, we as teachers must honor and respect student experiences in order to have ethical classroom practices (for ideas, see Mitchell & Krause, 2016). I ask you to think about the following: How might you be contributing to identity invalidation without realizing it? Do you critically question how you are colluding to marginalization, ignorance, or bigotry in the classroom? It is pertinent to create change through our words, actions, teaching materials, and classroom management. Only then can we lower the affective filters of students who have faced countless acts of oppression.


Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. The University of Chicago Legal Forum, 140, 139–167.

Darvin R., & Norton, B. (2015). Identity and a model of investment in applied linguistics. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 35, 36–56.

Horwitz, E. K., Horwitz, M. B., & Cope, J. A. (1986). Foreign language classroom anxiety. The Modern Language Journal, 70, 125–132.

Mitchell, J. D. (2018). Foreign language anxiety, sexuality, and gender: Lived experiences of four LGBTQ+ students (Master’s thesis). Portland State University, Portland, OR.

Mitchell, J. D., & Krause, T. (2016). Steps towards addressing sexual diversity in the English language classroom. ORTESOL Journal, 33, 41–43.

James D. Mitchell is an assistant researcher on the Alternate English Language Learning Assessment (ALTELLA) project at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He holds an MA TESOL from Portland State University and has experience teaching ESL in the United States and Germany. His research interests include social justice in English language teaching, critical applied linguistics, and emotion and affect in language learning and teaching.


I work for a large, suburban school district just outside of Dallas, Texas. We have a student enrollment of just under 40,000, with English Learners making up 25% of the total enrollment. Currently, we have around 250 students who are coded as refugees or currently seeking asylum. While that number is not as high as other districts in the area, all of these students reside within one particular attendance zone in our district. Due to this influx of refugee students, our district has decided to identify resources and supports that can best serve this particular population of students. After carefully considering multiple options and programs we have decided to implement a high school level course for newcomers that will address their social and emotional needs as well as provide another opportunity to acquire and practice English during their school day. With this decision there are several factors that we will need to work through for successful implementation of this program in the 2018-2019 school year. Allocations of personnel, campus administrator buy-in, student engagement, and teacher training are all factors that will impact the effectiveness of this initiative.

Our district recognized that many newcomer students were lacking the social and emotional skills needed to function at a successful level within their new environment. Our teachers have identified the skills that are needed to assist students in dealing with conflict and anger management, implementation of personal goals and connection of those to larger social goals, and identification and navigation through problematic social situations. With these skills taught as a foundation, our ELs will be empowered with strategies to successfully adapt to their new school environment.

This course was designed as a .5 (1 semester) or 1.0 (full year) credit elective course that provides students who participate in an English as a Second Language (ESL) program the necessary knowledge and skills required for successful acclimation to their new community and educational environment. Students enrolled in this class will learn skills necessary for navigating social situations, such as conflict resolution, communication, decision making, and cultural awareness. The essential knowledge and skills of the course include, but are not limited to, the following:

    1. Students will learn appropriate social skills in educational, social, and work environments.

    2. Students will learn about the culture of their new community and country.

    3. Students will develop skills in understanding and managing situations involving conflict.

    Michigan and Massachusetts provide courses similar to this, and each were used as a framework in the development phase of this course. The Texas Education Agency also suggests using resources and materials from the Collaborative for Academic Social and Environmental Learning. The Sheltered Instructional Observational Protocol (SIOP) Model for English learners, which was developed by Jana Echevarria, Mary Ellen Vogt and Deborah J. Short, contains some of the required activities included in the course design. The SIOP Model is a research-based instructional model that allows teachers to plan and deliver lessons that allow English learners to acquire academic knowledge as they develop English language proficiency. Our district also participates in the Dallas Area Refugee Forum, which is a community partnership that includes area school districts, healthcare providers, refugee resettlement organizations, social services, and police and fire departments. These alliances have enabled our district to identify the needs of our students and connect them with the community organizations that can provide help.

    Teacher selection and training for this course is the most important component in this process. This is a course where the teacher must cultivate a culture of trust between them and their students, as well as trust of the students with each other. The classroom must be regarded as a safe place to ask questions and take academic risks without fear of ridicule. We are currently partnering with surrounding school districts to develop the lesson materials for this course, and once the campus identifies the teacher who will be teaching this course, we will conference with them to make sure they understand what the course is designed to accomplish and is comfortable with the lesson design. The state requires that teachers of this course have a minimum of two years of teaching experience, ESL academy or similar experience, and be a highly qualified teacher as determined by federal standards.

    We have met with campus administration throughout this process to make sure they are fully aware of what this course is designed to do, and they are excited to be able to offer this course to students that need this additional level of support. They have been willing to use some of their campus faculty allocations in order to offer this course, which is an important part of buy-in at the campus level.

    Although it has been a process to bring this program to fruition, we are excited about offering a course that addresses the affective needs of our students and provides them with tools they can use to meet the challenges of being in a new country. We have engaged the administrators, focused on recruiting the right teachers, enlisted community partners, and have identified the right students for this course, and we are excited to see this group of students flourish in their new surroundings.

    Jennifer Burr currently serves as the Secondary ELL Specialist for Richardson Independent School District in Texas. Dr. Burr has been an educator for 17 years and has an Ed. D in Education Leadership with an emphasis in multiculturalism and diversity. Her research focuses on effective teaching practices of core content-area teachers who work with large numbers of English learners.


    Zsuzsanna Kozák

    Ildikó Lázár

    “At crucial junctures,
    Every individual makes decisions,
    and…every decision is individual.”

    - Raul Hilberg, Holocaust scholar

    Do we notice if a person living next door is in trouble? Do we want to notice it? Do we dare to confess to ourselves that we have something to do with our neighbor? What does it imply that in one language the word neighbor includes its Biblical sense (a person for whom we have moral responsibility) while in other languages we have two separate words for those who just live close and those about whom we are supposed to care? Also, why do we have the concept of bystander in English when in other languages it does not have a precise equivalent? Lacking certain words is one of the many tremendous internal and external obstacles to communication about and with our neighbors. How can we still speak about individual choices and social responsibility across cultures? What’s the difference between our current neighborhood and the community in the Germany of 1938 where people let their neighbors’ windows be shattered during “Crystal night”?

    To explore possible answers, the Visual World Foundation (VWF) has been developing an innovative international project for 3 years now, using the exciting metaphor of The Neighbor’s Window and building on the basic concept of an amazing United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) exhibition about bystanders and the Holocaust. We hope that the description of our project will provide you with both inspiration and concrete activities for your classroom.

    The essence of the USHMM exhibition was to approach the Holocaust from the point of view of neighbors, onlookers, and other ordinary individuals, instead of focusing on the perpetrators and victims, as often done by traditional studies. This approach seemed extremely relevant to teaching, because it is much easier to identify with ordinary people than with heroes and villians The distance of historical times provides a safe environment to discuss human behavior patterns, including the mechanisms of discrimination and scapegoating, which are also painfully relevant topics today.

    VWF launched a unique project for training bystanders to become upstanders with six partner schools in Hungary using some seed money from the USHMM; its own resources; and financial, professional and human support from the Embassy of Canada in Hungary. 243 students and 17 teachers (of English, media literacy, history, and visual arts) and psychologists worked together to teach about human behavior in different periods of history. We used historical photos and videos with their descriptions provided by the USHMM to learn about history and individuals’ role in it. The photos were incorporated in installations by the participating students and gave a visual and textual reflection of the situations depicted in the original images.

    Selectivity: an interactive non-game”: The work of the Szombathely Secondary School of Art shows that labeling anyone will make us face ourselves in the end.

    Same patterns in different places and times: The picture shows the work of Kürt High School. There was consensus in the class: Four patterns should be pointed out in different historical photos taken in Germany in 1938 and in Hungary in 1943—incomprehension, pressure from authorities, shifting responsibility, and indifference.

    The uniqueness of this collaborative effort is the broad spectrum of partner schools: from a primary school for the visually impaired, through four different high schools (including one in the countryside), to a university for the Reformed Church. The series of installations created by the participating students was turned into a mobile exhibition. It received patronage from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in spring 2016 and since then we have been using it as a teaching tool. The exhibition has been traveling to different places to engage and sensitize new and sometimes not necessarily open-minded audiences.

    Students Kata Martincsák and Eszter Csordás passionately introduce their installations to policymakers and teachers at a conference.

    Most of the student artists, peer guides, and their teachers were present and contributed substantially to the success of the events that accompanied the exhibition (Guensburg, 2016). For example, last year at a conference for media literacy, teachers and representatives of UNESCO-associated schools held at the headquarters of the Hungarian Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, participants listened to the students describe the creative phases of the project and their motives in contributing to the awareness raising about the role of citizens in times of crisis.

    Miklós Réthelyi, UNESCO chair, gives a speech before presenting The Neighbor’s Window project at a conference at the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights

    In spring 2018, the exhibition was hosted by the Israeli Cultural Institute in Budapest. In the course of 3 months, five workshops were organized to accompany the exhibition and help disseminate the idea that we need to take the initiative and speak up when human rights are not respected. Activities included simulations and debates with follow-up reflections about the role of witnesses of discrimination, the key role of speaking up for others’ rights, and the great importance of participation in decision-making, including local and national elections. Students, educators, NGO-representatives, visual artists, journalists, and decision-makers all participated together. That The Neighbor’s Window is a traveling exhibit with diverse accompanying events depending on the local audiences’ needs and interests contributes to its sustainability.

    At one of the workshops, students, teachers and journalists participated in an activity with Éva Fahidi, Holocaust survivor. Éva suggested that we create a glossary of key terms and she cited her old definition of a decent person: someone who always stands up for the values of the community and never lets any of the members be offended or attacked.

    Activities for the Classroom

    Here is a description of four activities from our project that can easily be adapted to any English class with the aim of having participants explore social issues and the nature of individual responsibility, solidarity, and advocacy.

    Péter Gács, a student from the Primary School for the Visually Impaired is examining a group of same-age Rwandan students to look for similarities between Rwandan children and his own friends.

    1. Becoming aware of our own relationships with neighbors (conversation and map design)

    Aims: This activity helps learners realize how little we know about people living close by and sheds light on relationships and alienation, as well as typical language use in such situations. Drawing the map of communication channels helps explore the possibilities of improving relationships with neighbors.


    1. Raise the following questions for pairs or groups to discuss:

    • Whom from your neighbors do you like the most? Why?

    • Whom from your neighbors do you like the least? Why?

    • Can you share a typical dialogue that happens between you and these two neighbors?

    • Which neighbor of yours knows the most about you? How does it feel?

    • How did s/he get all this information about you?

    1. Ask participants to design a map by drawing the communication channels in the group and also between the group members and their neighbors.

    2. Ask them to rewrite their dialogue with the disliked neighbor with I-messages showing more respect.

    2. Better understanding and interpreting dialogues (making subtitles for a video)

    Aims: This activity teaches empathy and promotes a deeper understanding of the meaning of words and body language by practicing respectful (accurate) interpretation and taking the spectators’ viewing habits into consideration.

    Resource: The video introducing the USHMM exhibition serves as an excellent medium to design dubbing and editing tasks.


    1. Ask participants to watch the video and prepare a transcript.

    2. Tell them to translate the sentences, including concepts, into their mother tongue and then shorten the text into subtitles (42 characters x 2 lines/screen max).

    3. Editing the text and copying the subtitles on the video are optional. At more advanced levels, you can screen a video in the participants’ native language and they have to write subtitles in English.

    3. Neighbors’ participation in public humiliation (sharing associations/vocabulary with others)

    Aims: This activity helps explore the visual language of propaganda and invites learners to extend their vocabulary, communicate with like-minded people, and tune in to a discussion about inclusion.

    Resource: A video from the website of the exhibition allows students to compare their responses to others’.


    1. Screen the video.

    2. Ask participants to open a new textbox by clicking on the Tags icon on the website.

    3. Students enter a word to describe what they have seen in the video.

    4. Then they can take a look at what words people from all over the world entered when completing the same task.

    4. Advocacy (discussions and cooperative group work, adapted from TASKs for Democracy (Mompoint-Gaillard and Lázár, 2015)).

    Aims: This activity promotes equal participation, parallel interactions, interdependence, and individual accountability and raises awareness of the need to take the initiative and remember our resources.

    This is the “window” pattern that participants can use to sum up how many agree on challenges and available resources in advocacy.


    1. Put participants in groups of four and have them draw a window on a large sheet of paper. Write the topic in the center, and divide the window into four panels.

    2. Ask participants to individually think of a group of people they (would like to) represent in society to help them let their voice be heard.

    3. Then have them think of all the challenges they face when trying to speak up for this group.

    4. Instruct them to individually write a list of these challenges in just a few key words, and mark on their lists the two most difficult ones.

    5. Ask participants to take turns at the table to share these most difficult challenges and count how many in their group face the same difficulties.

    6. Have participants write these challenges into the appropriate panel in the group’s window according to how many of them at the table share the same difficulties.

    7. In the next 10 minutes, encourage groups to add resources they could count on when trying to overcome these challenges. These are added to the windows on yellow Post-its to make the posters visually brighter as well as more positive and motivating.

    8. Finally, pin the windows to the walls, and have the groups present the challenges and resources in advocacy.


    What helps us speak up for our neighbors? How can we best represent the rights of a group of people? How can we ensure that our voice is heard? What are the challenges we need to overcome in advocacy? As the motto at the beginning of this article says, it depends on us individuals what we do with the neighbor’s window. Perhaps none of us would break it intentionally but we might not notice if our neighbor is unwell behind that window. It may be a useful strategy to occasionally knock on that window and start a conversation.

    Developing empathy, promoting solidarity, sustaining meaningful conversations through art, and language learning activities are the focus of our complex educational project entitled The Neighbor’s Window. We are grateful to Lydia Stack and Elisabeth Chan for having presented our project at TESOL Conventions in their sessions entitled, respectively, “Bystanders Becoming Upstanders: Media Literacy Education for Secondary ELL Students”(2017, Seattle, Washington, USA) and “Creative Media as Tangible Advocacy for Global Educators” (2018, Chicago, Illinois, USA).

    We are also thankful to Rosa Aronson, former TESOL executive director, and Dudley Reynolds, former president of TESOL, for the letter they sent to all TESOL members on 31 January 2017. Their speaking up for international students and teachers clearly and eloquently followed TESOL values, which gave our core team in Hungary an injection of braveness. The public statement they made was a great example for an upstander’s actions that we were lucky to witness at the right moment during the development of our experimental project in a moderately supportive environment.

    We would be delighted to receive offers to host the exhibition and the accompanying workshops. Please contact us at neighbors@visualworld.org if you would like more information. Photos: Judit Kocsis, VWF


    Guensburg, C. (2016). Holocaust lessons inspire Hungarian students’ art.Voice of America. Retrieved from https://www.voanews.com/a/holocaust-lessons-inspire-hungarian-students-art/3298721.html

    Mompoint-Gaillard, P., & Lázár, I. (Eds.) (2015). TASKs for democracy: 60 activities to learn and assess transversal attitudes, skills and knowledge. Pestalozzi Series 4. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Retrieved from https://www.coe.int/t/dg4/education/pestalozzi/Source/Documentation/Pestalozzi4_EN.pdf

    Zsuzsanna Kozák is a media literacy education advisor and a documentary filmmaker—with this background, a passionate TESOLer. She is the founder and executive director of a Budapest-based NGO, Visual Word Foundation, which produced several educational documentaries for teachers of English and peace educators starring former TESOL presidents (e.g., Philotimo and Teaching Tolerance Through English).

    Ildikó Lázár is a senior lecturer at Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary, offering courses on English language teaching methodology, cultural studies, and intercultural communication. She has also worked as a researcher, materials writer, and facilitator in many Council of Europe projects. She has been coordinating a voluntary community of practice for teachers’ continuous professional development for happy schools in Budapest for 5 years.



    During the last 8 years, as a former higher education administrator working with students of color and as a current doctoral student researching the college experiences of students without documentation, I have met and worked with several undocumented college students, who too often have shared that they felt lonely and uneasy in their middle schools and high schools because of their immigration status. Once in college, many of these students talked about feeling a sense of relief when speaking about their immigrant backgrounds, as well as their concerns and aspirations in relation to their documentation. These conversations commonly originated when students picked up on some language and terms I used, or some signs and handouts that I had in my office, such as a placard that said “I am an unafraid educator with and for undocumented students” and “know your rights” pamphlets from immigration advocacy organizations. Though many of the students that I have worked with have been able to open up about their immigration status and have been able to find a few support systems in college, they are not the majority and their experiences of inclusion are not the norm across U.S. colleges and universities.

    Though all undocumented students have the right to a free K–12 public education since the landmark Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe (1982) was decided (Olivas, 1986), most are excluded from higher education because of restrictive admission rules and/or financial aid policies (Contreras, 2009; Gonzales, 2016; Muñoz, 2015). Therefore, it is critical that school teachers and leaders become knowledgeable about the distinct experiences of undocumented students and their families and feel equipped to successfully respond to their needs inside and outside the classroom setting. The book Teachers as Allies: Transformative Practices for Teaching DREAMers and Undocumented Students, edited by Shelley Wong, Elaisa Sánchez Gosnell, Anne Marie Foerster Luu, and Lori Dodson, meets this demand and provides the essential information that educators need to better support undocumented children and youth and to better serve immigrant families as they navigate the K–12 and higher education systems.

    The book begins with an overview of U.S. federal policies impacting undocumented immigrant youth, such as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and a call to action that urges educators to become allies and advocates for undocumented students and immigrant communities. Throughout the different chapters, the authors argue that teachers have the responsibility to educate all students equally and that to achieve this goal educators must examine their own cultural lenses and engage in culturally responsive practices. Through real life scenarios and vignettes, the book points out the importance of recognizing the experiences teachers have with students from immigrant backgrounds as cultural dilemmas that may arise from a lack of awareness and understanding of immigrant communities, as well as from White-centered pedagogies that do not account for the unique needs and experiences of diverse students and families in the classroom.

    Throughout the book, the authors offer distinct perspectives on a number of issues related to the education of undocumented and immigrant students, such as the impact of deportation policies and raids on classroom engagement, and the challenges students encounter at the intersections of their multiple marginalized identities (e.g., Black and undocumented, LGBTQ and undocumented). In addition, each chapter offers valuable instruments that educators will be able to adapt to their classroom settings, such as personal reflective forms, student success models, immigrant-centered curriculum materials, and tools to create inclusive and culturally responsive environments. Finally, the book also includes programmatic examples that were developed to enhance the educational pathways of undocumented students and a toolkit containing national resources that educators can use to expand their knowledge and advocacy.

    As a current doctoral candidate conducting research with and for undocumented college students, I applaud the inclusion of immigrant student voices throughout the book. Many of the chapters not only presented student testimonies and stories, but were written by teachers in collaboration with their students. I found this approach to be particularly significant because the stories of undocumented immigrants are repeatedly appropriated and exploited in academia, so academics can use the authors’ approach to collaborations as an example as they engage in critical scholarship in the future. In addition, as a former higher education administrator, I wish I could have had access to this book to guide my practice as I worked with undocumented students to institutionalize support services for and with them on college campuses; in particular, the programmatic examples and resources provided in the book are very valuable, and I think that they would allow practitioners and educators to build a strong foundation for their immigrant advocacy work.

    A piece that I found to be missing from the book is a critical discussion of the terminology and arguments typically used within the debates about undocumented and immigrant students. For example, the term DREAMers is often associated with undocumented students who have exemplary academic records, who aspire to a higher education, and who came to the United States. at a very young age and grew up as “Americans.” Moreover, the arguments commonly used in favor of the DREAM Act blame the parents of undocumented youth for bringing their children to the United States without documentation. These narratives are not only deceptive and limited, but they can be used to create hierarchies and tensions within immigrant communities and families. Throughout the book, the authors do not explicitly make these arguments, but they use terminology that is connected to them without engaging in a critical examination of the jargon. Similarly, as immigration issues continue to be at the center of U.S. politics and popular discourse, and policies are implemented (e.g., travel ban) or revoked (Temporary Protective Status, TPS), it is necessary to engage in dialogues that consider and include the experiences of immigrants who are in-between statuses or fall somewhere in the spectrum of documentation.

    School teachers and leaders are in positions of great power, and they have the opportunity to positively and meaningfully influence the educational pathways of undocumented and immigrant students. Yet, sometimes, educators do not receive the training and education required to understand the experiences and to meet the needs of immigrant students and their families. The book Teachers as Allies: Transformative Practices for Teaching DREAMers and Undocumented Students allows K–12 and higher education practitioners to recognize the importance of serving undocumented and immigrant students equitably and to develop a knowledge base that will allow them to better fulfill their roles as educators. 

    Teachers as Allies is the SRIS Book Club’s first selection. Online discussions will take place from mid-August through late September via Facebook. The editors will take part in at least two to three online discussions throughout the months of August and September. For more information, please check the SRIS Facebook page.


    Contreras, F. (2009). Sin papeles y rompiendo barreras: Latino students and the challenges of persisting in college. Harvard Educational Review, 79(4), 610–631.

    Gonzales, R. G. (2016). Lives in limbo: Undocumented and coming of age in America. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

    Muñoz, S. M. (2015). Identity, social activism, and the pursuit of higher education: The journey of undocumented and unafraid community activists. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

    Olivas, M. (1986). Plyler v. Doe, Toll v. Moreno, and postsecondary admissions: Undocumented adults and 'enduring disability'.Journal of Law and Education, 15(1), 19–55.

    Wong, S., Gosnell, E. S., Luu, A. M. F., & Dodson, L. (2017). Teachers as allies: Transformative practices for teaching DREAMers and undocumented students. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

    Cinthya Salazar is a PhD candidate in the Student Affairs concentration at the University of Maryland College Park, and has more than 8 years of professional experience in higher education. During the last 3 years, Cinthya has collaborated in several qualitative research projects that have examined the experiences of students and professionals of color in higher education. As a former undocumented student, Cinthya is committed to working with and for undocumented immigrants, and has engaged in several immigration advocacy efforts within and outside higher education contexts. Cinthya’s dissertation focuses on the persistence of undocumented college students in Virginia, and her broader research interests are centered in the college access and retention of minoritized student populations.



    Carter Winkle

    Heidi Faust

    Anastasia Khawaja

    Riah Werner

    Laura Jacob

    Christine E. Poteau

    Babak Khoshnevisan

    Georgios-Vlasios Kormpas

    Chris Leider

    Yecid Ortega

    Hello SRIS!

    The SRIS leadership team would like to take this opportunity to introduce ourselves to you, and to explain a little bit about the new leadership model we are introducing, with four Areas of Advocacy (AOAs). The goal is for this new system to create more ways for you, our members, to be involved in the interest section, with a robust calendar of year round activities.

    Ous cochairs this year are Carter Winkle and Heidi Faust. Carter is an associate professor at Barry University in the Division of Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Research, working with doctoral, graduate, and undergraduate education students. He unapologetically wears the badge of “advocate-researcher” as he explores cultural and linguistic issues around English language teaching and learning. Heidi Faust is the associate director of TESOL Professional Training Programs at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Her research area focuses on equity and diversity in education. Heidi also previously served as the chair for the Intercultural Communication Interest Section in 2015.

    Anastasia Khawaja and Riah Werner are are coeditors of this newsletter, as well as co-chair elects. Anastasia is currently a doctoral candidate in second language acquisition/instructional technology at the University of South Florida, busily writing her dissertation focusing on the emotions associated with languages that Palestinians use in Palestine and in the diaspora. She is also a senior instructor at INTO University of South Florida and has previously taught in Peru, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. Riah is an English Language Fellow at the National Pedagogical Institute for Technical and Professional Training in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, where she has developed a national continuing professional development program for in-service teachers. She uses drama and the arts to help her students address the issues facing their communities and is committed to developing locally contextualized pedagogies with the teachers she trains.

    Laura Jacob has finished her term as our chair, but still provides guidance to the interest section in her role as past chair. She is an ESL instructor at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California and coeditor of Social Justice and English Language Teaching, one of TESOL Press’s best-selling books. Over the course of the past year, she pioneered the “strand” model of leadership, which brought many new leaders into SRIS as leaders of their respective areas of advocacy.

    New to our interest section this year are our four Areas of Advocacy (AOAs).

    The first area, EL Advocacy, serves to build a community within which equitable practices and pedagogies are examined from the theoretical spectrum to innovative practical applications. It is co-led by Christine E. Poteau, Babak Khoshnevisan and Georgios-Vlasios Kormpas. Christine holds a Ph.D. in Spanish Applied Linguistics from Temple University. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor at Rowan University with research and pedagogical interests in ESL, EFL, and Spanish Applied Linguistics. She is especially interested in connecting second and foreign language learners in collaborative advocacy for equitable rights and access to education, medical care, and legal counsel in local and global contexts. Babak is a Ph.D. candidate in Technology in Education and Second Language Acquisition (TESLA) Program at the University of South Florida (USF). He is an instructor of EAP courses at INTO USF. His research interests include teacher education, CALL, idiomaticity, and AR. He sees advocacy as an umbrella term, which involves the sustainable development goals of the UN. He is interested in the UN goals in terms of quality education, as well as in the identity of international students. Georgios is currently the Senior Academic Specialist at the Continuing and Executive Education Division (CEED) at Al Yamamah University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Georgios is also a Ph.D. candidate researching Technology Enhanced Learning at Lancaster University. He has been involved with teacher and student advocacy for many years through different teacher associations. He believes that through advocacy and equity students and teachers can be greatly empowered and help their societies.

    The next area of advocacy, Intersections of Identity and ELT, aims to support language teachers’ identit(ies) through attentiveness to individuality and is led by Hemamalini Ramachandran. Hema is a Senior Instructor in the INTO USF Academic Program at the University of South Florida; she has also taught & supervised undergraduate theses in the USF Honors College. Her education includes a PhD in Film, MA TESOL, & MA French; she has taught at the university level, in high school, and in community college in different national/cultural contexts. Hema comes into TESOL with an extensive background in cultural studies/theory. Her enduring interest in issues of culture, identity, representation, & equity motivated her to agree to lead the SRIS strand, Intersections of Language Teaching & Identity.

    The third area of advocacy, Professional Learning, serves to connect members of the TESOL community who want to unpack specific areas of social justice and equity in education, and includes teacher education, curriculum development and social justice resources. This area is led by Dr. Chris Leider. She is a former ESL teacher and is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor of Bilingual Education and TESOL at Boston University. Her research focuses on instruction and assessment for emergent bilinguals and her teaching focuses on developing anti-racist pedagogy and critical perspectives with ESL, Sheltered English Immersion, and Bilingual Education teachers.

    The final advocacy area, Global Issues in Education, includes peace, the environment and economic justice, and focuses on understanding how students, administrators, researchers, civil society can foster new generations of citizens who care about global issues. Its leader is Yecid Ortega, a Ph.D. candidate in the program of Language and Literacies Education (LLE) at OISE – University of Toronto. Yecid explores how globalization, capitalism and neoliberalism influence language policy decision-making and classroom practices. His current specific interest deals with aspects of social justice and peacebuilding within frameworks of epistemologies of the South. His research looks at how English language teaching policy in Colombia is being understood by the school community (students, teacher, parents, principal etc.) and how it influences classroom practices and students’ lived experiences.

    If you’d like to join the leadership team, the position of community manager is currently open. SRIS has online presences on myTESOL, Facebook and Twitter, so if you would like to help facilitate our conversations and encourage engagement across those platforms, we would love to have you on the team! Please email Carter Winkle with a short bio and why you would make a good community manager.

    We’re looking forward to another exciting year of Social Responsibility with all of you!


    The SRIS Leadership Team


    Statement of Purpose

    TESOL's Social Responsibility Interest Section (SRIS) supports and develops members engaged in integrating language teaching, research, and training with social responsibility, world citizenship, and awareness of global issues such as peace, human rights, and the environment. The SRIS promotes social responsibility within the profession to advance social equity, respect for differences, and multicultural understandings through education.

    Relationship to TESOL Mission and Strategic Direction

    The work of the SRIS clearly aligns with the advocacy aims of the Strategic Plan and TESOL’s Mission Core Values (1) Respect for Diversity, Multilingualism, Multiculturalism, and Individual Language Rights and (2) Commitment to Lifelong Learning. TESOLers are intersectional in their interests, expertise, and talents vis-à-vis our shared professional discipline. The SRIS has become a welcome home for members who themselves are stakeholders within multiple ISs or other alliance communities (e.g., AEIS, BELPaF, IEPIS, ILGBTF, NNEST,...): SRIS speaks to members’ own core values as humans living and working within a socially unjust world.

    2018-19 SRIS Goals

    1. Research workshops/‘webinars,’ online book club; quarterly newsletter content; discussion forum activity; etc.);

    2. Promote development of leaders within the SRIS (i.e., through opportunities for service as ‘domain leaders’ or IS liaisons, newsletter contributors/editors, workshop development/delivery; etc.);

    3. Grow membership of the SRIS (i.e., through active dissemination of our purposes and mission to the broader TESOL community);

    4. Activate and engage affiliate leaders both regionally (within the U.S.A.) and globally in their involvement in the SRIS and within the TESOL organization more broadly.

    2018-19 Planned Activities

    Quarterly Webinars: The “TESOL year” beyond of convention will be divided up into 4 quarters. A webinar will be offered by one of the four domains each quarter in their area of expertise. Such webinars will be available and open to the entire TESOL membership:

    Newsletter Foci: Building upon the work of the 2017-2018 SRIS Newsletter Editors, our plan is to continue publishing four newsletters each year, with one of the domains taking key focus each issue. Additionally, the issue leading up to the annual Convention will integrate the Convention Theme.

    Book Club: Also emerging during the 2017 SRIS general meeting was the idea to develop online book club focusing on a text aligned to the Convention Theme, a specific advocacy domain, or other identified critical topic related to the current social and political milieu.

    SRIS Leadership Policy and Procedures: An identified aim is the development of organized virtual spaces (e.g. via Google Docs or other space) and materials that would support the successful transition of leadership within the SRIS.

    Online Open Meeting: Beyond the annual open meeting which occurs during the course of the convention, our intention is to hold quarterly “virtual” open membership meetings to aid in ‘extending the conversation’ beyond the annual convention.

    Area of Advocacy Activities: Each of the four Areas of Advocacy (EL Advocacy, Intersections of Identity, Professional Learning, and Global Issues) will undertake activities throughout the year, in addition to the planned webinars. These could include, but are not limited to, research projects, online meetings, such as twitter chats, publications and outreach.


    Greetings Social Responsibility Interest Section!

    We are Riah Werner and Anastasia Khawaja the editors of the SRIS newsletter, TESOLers for Social Responsibility. We are excited to announce that the theme for our September issue is Allyship. For this issue, we’re looking for articles that explore what it means to be an ally, both within our communities and to our students.

    Let's face it. Many of us are exhausted by the constant barrage of breaking news regarding the violation of human rights around the world, yet we in SRIS continue to fight the injustice. We reaffirm the truth that our roles as educators, researchers, and activists have become more important than ever, in the face of the disheartening state of the world. Therefore, let’s share empowering stories of how we support one another. In this issue, we focus on the following questions: What are best practices to keep in mind when advocating with and for others? How can we focus on allyship as an ongoing practice? How can we balance our advocacy and our teaching in a sustainable way, to avoid the burnout that is common to both teachers and activists?

    As always, we would love to share a wide range of voices and perspectives on this topic and particularly encourage international submissions.

    We are looking for

    • Feature articles: Share your presentations, research projects, or classroom practices.

    • Lesson descriptions: Describe a lesson plan you’ve created about a social justice topic so that other teachers can use it with their students as well!

    • Anecdotes and stories: Do you have a story or personal reflection on incorporating social issues into your classes? If so, we’d love to hear it!

    • Lists of useful resources: Share resources that you use in your work, along with an explanation of how you use them or why you find them helpful.

    • Reviews: Write about a book or an article that has inspired you as a teacher or researcher.

    • Interviews: Is there a member of the TESOL community you would like to interview? Send the interview our way!

    • Calls to action: Overviews of pressing issues around the world, and suggestions on how TESOLers can get involved.

    • Responses to articles published in the newsletter: We welcome submissions in dialogue with articles we have already published. Continue the conversations started in this issue!

    Your submission can be between 500 to 1,750 words. Please keep this word count in mind as you draft your piece. It includes the title, byline, teaser and references, so the actual body of the article should be less than the limit of 1,750 words. If you have an idea but need some guidance on how to develop it more fully, please email us at ajkhawaja@usf.edu or riah.werner@gmail.com, and we will brainstorm together!

    Please send your articles to Riah Werner at riah.werner@gmail.com with the subject line "SRIS Newsletter Submission.”

    The deadline for submissions is 1 September 2018.

    General Submission Quick Guide

    Articles should

    • have the title in ALL CAPS;

    • list a byline (author’s name with hyperlinked email, affiliation, city, country);

    • include a 2- to 3-sentence teaser, written in the third person;

    • be no longer than 1,750 words (including bylines, teasers, main text, tables, references and author bios);

    • include a 2- to 3-sentence author biography, written in the third person;

    • contain no more than 5 references;

    • follow the style guidelines in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition (APA style); and

    • include an author photo (120 pixels wide by 160 pixels tall) and any other photos (up to 400 pixels wide, no limit on height) as separate files (do not embed them into your word document).

    The SRIS newsletter is a great venue to share your innovative work and ideas with our community. We look forward to receiving your submissions soon!

    Kind Regards,

    Riah and Anastasia