LETTER FROM THE CHAIRS
We hope you’re well, wherever you are. We wrote our chair letter, assuming that we would come together as an interest section in a few short weeks in Denver, but as the coronavirus has spread around the world, we learned that that would not be the case. Day by day it’s become increasingly clear that the socially responsible thing is to stay home in order to minimize the risk of spreading this disease, but we will miss the opportunity to see many of you face to face at the convention, a highlight of each year for many of us. TESOL has been working to find new ways for us to safely come together, and to maintain some of the energy of the annual convention through remote participation. The details of the logistics of moving such a large convention to a new format in the midst of a global pandemic are still being finalized, but it was so great to be able to connect with many of you at our virtual meeting this past Wednesday. For those of you who were not able to attend, we missed you. We posted the entire recording in our group on My TESOL. We had an informative and uplifting discussion regarding new ways to maintain our community as we all shift to spending more time at home. Many ideas were shared like a virtual social hour and a virtual book club. There were also several concerns that were discussed with regard to work load and added stresses of being home. It is indeed a fine line to walk as we navigate the minefield of finding ways to connect to be sources of support for one another, and not just the feeling of adding another meeting to already filled and overwhelmed schedules. Stay tuned to our various communication platforms for future virtual gatherings, and please do consider participating if you are able.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, we in SRIS were aware of the ways the slogan for this year’s convention, “Where the World Comes Together” were aspirational and out of reach for many of us, whether due to financial considerations or travel bans barring entry to the United States. We advocated for more remote participation as a way of increasing equity and making participation in the convention more accessible. As schools around the world close their doors and more and more countries close their borders, we suddenly all find ourselves in the position of needing remote access in order to participate, and we are happy to say that the TESOL leadership is hard at working trying to find new ways of maintaining our international community from afar. In addition to holding our open meeting online, TESOL has also committed to finding a way for each IS’s academic session and intersections to go forward remotely. While the details of moving these online are still being discussed, we’re excited to share the topics of the SRIS sessions with you.
In our academic session, Challenges in Social Responsibility in TESOL: Healing Along Fractured Lines, SRIS will highlight our four domains as our panelists explore the topic of fractured lines in ELT. This panel will also be a wonderful opportunity to hear about the current work of the domains. The domain structures are one way we can build and maintain community in SRIS, and we hope it will inspire you to think of new ways of getting involved around the social responsibility issues that resonate most deeply with you. Our primary intersection with TEIS and ALIS entitled Critical Theory and Critical Pedagogy: Bridging the Gap, will explore how social issues can be explored in applied linguistics and teacher education, and will highlight the synergies between critical approaches to theory and practice and the ways teacher education can be a site for bringing the two into conversation. We also have a secondary panel with ALIS entitled Pursuing Social Justice in TESOL will focus on how social justice work can be incorporated in the work of applied linguists. Our next secondary intersection is a collaboration with RCIS and ICIS entitled Teaching Peace Language for Turbulent Times: Empowering Immigrants and Refugees. In this session, panelists will focus on the role of peace language in ELT and curriculum development globally. Finally, we have a special intersection with members of a range of Professional Learning Networks, exploring how TESOL can better address diversity: Diversifying TESOL: Working Together Towards Inclusivity. You will hear from representatives from the LGBT+ PLN, Palestinian Educators and Friends PLN (PE&F), Black English Language Educator Professionals and Friends PLN (BELPaF), and TESOL Diversity Collaborative, who will share their perspectives and experiences regarding what has been done so far to diversify and recommendations for next steps.
There are also a number of online platforms for us to stay connected as an interest section. We have our MyTESOL discussion board, our Facebook page, and our Twitter account. The online platform for the convention is also still up and running, so you can share powerpoints, handouts or papers for the presentations you were planning on giving at the convention there. We’re also exploring other avenues for our members to share our work, so please reach out if you’d be interested in contributing to a webinar or writing an article for the SRIS newsletter, or if you have another idea for remote engagement. While many schools are closed, teachers are still powerful sources of information, so TESOL has compiled a list of reliable and accurate materials you can use to teach about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.
These are uncertain times, as we all find new ways to come together and to support each other, even from afar. Yes, the socially responsible thing is the be physically distant. Yet, even as we find ourselves physically distant, we hope we can draw from our strength as a community and find ways to come through this together. The coronavirus has highlighted the impacts of inequity around the globe, and the needs for robust systems of social support. We are all in this together, and hopefully we will come through the other side with a stronger sense of our interdependence.
Stay well, SRIS,
Riah and Anastasia
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS
In her book titled Race, Empire, and English Language Teaching, Suhanthie Motha (2014) asks educators to expand their views of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and to “teach children and young adults about difference, hierarchy, and ... the role played by English language teaching in the United States” (p. 48). Given the context that the immigrant children are learning and thriving in the U.S. classrooms, we, the editors of SRIS’s newsletter, identified the theme of Diversifying the TESOL Curriculum as important. We chose this theme for this issue because we were inspired by beautiful stories from bilingual/ multilingual and TESOL teachers around the world who are silently working in their learning environments to deliver just, equitable, and empowering instruction while embracing their students’ diversity. For this issue, we are excited to present articles, personal reflections, and research reports bringing multicultural perspectives into the TESOL classrooms.
Our first contribution is titled Envisioning a diversified ELT curriculum in the postmodern era by Keith Graham and Yungkyeong Choi. In this article, the authors explain the five dimensions of the postmodern diversity framework and how it challenges traditional practices, especially in English-teaching contexts in Korea. In our second contribution titled Injecting Leadership into the ESL/EFL Curriculum: Five best practices for effective IEP Instruction, Adil Bentahar asks educators to go beyondteaching students subject-verb agreement and thesis statement creation, suggesting we bring the topic of leadership into classroom discussions. Next, Tung (Ryan) Vu and Thao Nguyen share a report on a case study conducted in an English as a foreign language (EFL) speaking course in Vietnam. In this report, the authorsshow us how the justice-oriented EFL curriculum benefits learners’ civic engagement and skills, which fills existing research gaps to ensure academic and non-academic development. Finally, Tabitha Kidwell shares a wonderful lesson plan educators can use to teach proverbs while building students’ intercultural competence and addressing both cultural and linguistic objectives.
We hope this issue will bring teachers, educators, and researchers a variety of ideas to better diversify the TESOL curricula in your classrooms. We urge you to continue to share your innovative work and ideas with our community so we can continue to learn from one another.
Enjoy this issue and be well.
Luis and Ethan
Motha, S. (2014). Race, empire, and English language teaching: Creating responsible and ethical anti-racist practice. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
ENVISIONING A DIVERSIFIED ELT CURRICULUM IN THE POSTMODERN ERA
Today’s world is filled with tension. Newspapers tell of suicide because of sexual orientation, ethnic and religious genocide, and racial violence. Though many voices are suggesting that “diversity is one of our greatest strengths to be celebrated” (Slattery, 2012, p. 149), it seems that rather than celebrating, the world is eradicating it. The evidence is clear; something needs to change, and we believe change can begin with the English language teaching (ELT) curriculum and the literature we bring into our classrooms. In the paragraphs that follow, we will propose a model for a postmodern diversity curriculum and the challenges and opportunities for implementation.
Postmodern Diversity Framework
Our postmodern diversity framework is based on the work of Slattery (2012). The framework is made of five dimensions that we believe educators at all levels should include in their curriculum: religion, gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity (Figure 1). Beginning with the first dimension, religion, it is no secret that many curriculums do one of two things—either try to eliminate religion from the curriculum altogether or teach one religion exclusively. We approach religion from the perspective that learning religions can be a conduit for a deeper understanding of one’s self and the world around them. While we believe religions, as a single subject, can help students learn about themselves, integration of all religions into other school subjects allows for a richer understanding of the world. For example, a history teacher could have students speak about historical events from the perspective of various religious groups.
Figure 1. Five dimensions of the postmodern diversity framework
Gender and sexuality are two topics also often avoided in K-12 schools, and this suppression is causing suffering (Slattery, 2012). First, it is important to understand that gender is a psychological trait and sex is a biological one (Newman, 2018). As such, various combinations beyond the traditional heterosexual male and female exist. Additionally, there are many misunderstandings in society about the interrelationship between gender roles, sexual behavior, and sexual orientation due to common interchangeable uses of these terms, which often remain unchallenged and undiscussed (see Slattery 2012 for a full discussion of these concepts). These misunderstandings have grave consequences for our students and communities. “There remains intense pressure on people to conform to traditional norms...Some find it easier just to go along with the expectations rather than fight for alternative preferences or desires” (Slattery, 2012, p. 158). To make educational environments more inclusive of the wide range of genders and sexual orientations of students, literature featuring these diverse groups should be incorporated into the curriculum. A good resource for literature with characters of diverse genders and sexualities are the lists provided by Common Sense Media (2019) and the Anti-Defamation League (2019).
Race and ethnicity are perennial issues in our world and are arguably the topics which get discussed more often in schools than the other dimensions listed above. However, we believe two things remain missing from conversations about race and ethnicity in classrooms. First, the discussion is often about “others” rather than self. Slattery (2012) tells us, “racial [and ethnic] issues in the postmodern curriculum emphasize investigations of the self and conceptions of the self in relation to the other” (p. 174). We must understand our own race and ethnicity before we can understand others. Second, as Kubota and Lin (2006) note, “TESOL has not sufficiently addressed the idea of race and related concepts” (p. 471), and the authors call for more discussion of race, both in ELT research and classroom practices.
While we believe including the dimensions of religion, gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity in the curriculum and literature we use can help bring powerful change to the world, we also recognize that implementation brings many challenges. Below we examine some potential challenges first by looking at what current ELT materials offer on these topics and then turning toward challenges for teachers and schools through the lens of the South Korean context, where the second author has worked as an English teacher. This focus on one context serves to highlight the challenges that exist in implementing a postmodern curriculum.
Current ELT Materials
We chose one of the most widely-used ELT materials around the world, Oxford Bookworms Library, and analyzed some of its titles using the postmodern diversity framework. We will present an analysis of level four (intermediate level) for this example. In level four, out of a total of 30 graded readers we found that only five of them address issues of race and ethnicity. For example, there were two texts related to race (i.e., Gandhi and Nelson Mandela) and three books on ethnicity (i.e., A Time of Waiting: Stories from Around the World, The Price of Peace: Stories from Africa, and Land of my Childhood: Stories from South Asia). However, we found no books addressing issues of religion, gender, or sexuality. The stories in other levels were very similar with very few books addressing aspects of postmodern diversity. Rather, there were quite a few books which reflected traditional Western images, particularly those of typical Western middle-class society and stereotypical gender roles. From this, we can conclude that there seems to be a gap between our postmodern diversity curriculum and our current ELT materials.
Local Challenges from the South Korean Perspective
As many teachers would agree, there are clearly some challenges beyond materials for implementing a postmodern ELT curriculum internationally. Based on the second author’s experience, these challenges of implementing a postmodern curriculum is particularly true in South Korea. First of all, religion is a topic that is considered a private matter in South Korea and not something that should be discussed in school settings. As some may know, South Korea has a test and content-focused school curriculum. Subjects that are directly related to the college entrance exam (e.g., math, English, language arts) make up the most important part of the curriculum and other subjects (e.g., music, arts) tend to be considered as trivial. As a result, there is rarely time for robust discussions on issues that are outside of the curriculum such as religion.
In addition, the number of people who identify with a religion has been continuously decreasing, particularly among young adults. According to a survey conducted in 2017 by the National Council of Churches in Korea, only 46.6% of Korean adults reported having a religion, and among the population aged between 20 to 29, only 30.7% were reported to have a religion (Yu, 2018). Due to these changes, it seems like it is particularly difficult for teachers to address issues of religion in their classrooms.
Next, gender and sexuality issues are considered as taboo topics in South Korea. Sexual diversity is not accepted culturally, and conversations on homosexuality, transgender, or intersex are not accepted in schools. As these issues are not properly addressed in the school curriculum and students are not educated on these topics, many students are unaware of the fact that there are diverse gender populations beyond the male/female dichotomy and people with different sexual orientations. Furthermore, many often end up finding inappropriate or biased information from the media or Internet, leading to misinformed views on gender and sexual diversity.
Finally, South Korea is an ethnically and racially homogeneous country so people believe that discrimination due to race or ethnicity is not an issue. When they think of racial or ethnic discrimination, they think about racial discrimination in the U.S. or issues of European colonialism around the world and believe it is a topic of the past. However, it is a real issue in South Korea that often goes unnoticed. For example, there are many foreign workers from developing countries and the number has been increasing continuously. In 2017, there were 1.28 million adult immigrants (over 15 years old) in Korea and most of them were foreign workers (0.9 million) (Korea National Statistics Office, 2017). Many of these foreign workers work long hours and receive pay below the minimum wage due to employers taking advantage of workers’ lack of Korean-language proficiency and misunderstandings about labor laws, which is clearly an act of discrimination against people with different racial and ethnic background. These workers are faced with discrimination not only in their workplaces, but also in their everyday lives. Moreover, children from these multicultural families have a hard time adjusting to their school, and the schools are failing to incorporate these issues in their curriculum. We believe that most of this discrimination seems to be caused by the lack of properly addressing these issues in school curricula, where students, both South Korean and expat, are not educated on them. Critically examining curricula from a postmodern perspective and implementing changes to instruction for South Korean students that are inclusive of all postmodern dimensions may lead to the raising of student awareness about diversity issues within their communities.
Opportunities for Implementation
Given the great challenges discussed, a radical change in the curriculum toward one inclusive of postmodern diversity may seem unfathomable. However, we feel the ELT community, more than any other field of education, has a unique opportunity to implement a postmodern diversity curriculum around the world. The opportunity begins with all ELT teachers becoming educated on the dimensions of postmodern diversity. Teachers must recognize that the modern categories of religion, gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity do not fit this postmodern world and do not represent many of our students. In addition, teachers need to also recognize biases created by modern notions and learn to love and defend all people. Reading texts on incorporating diverse curricula, such as Slattery (2012), or taking courses informed by critical race, gender, or queer theory will help raise teachers’ awareness of diverse populations and issues of systemic inequality. Once we have educated ourselves, the next step is to educate our colleagues as it is important that we approach postmodern diversity together as one educational community.
Once the ELT community is informed, we can then begin to educate our students. We believe the best way to engage students in these conversations is through literature. However, as seen above, our typical ELT materials fall short, so teachers will need to look beyond typical curriculum sources. There are many books that address the five dimensions of postmodern diversity. One book addressing sex and gender is Alex as Well (Brugman, 2013), a story of an intersex person searching for an identity. The Name Jar (Choi, 2001) is a great book for addressing race and ethnicity, telling the story of a Korean girl struggling with her Korean name in the United States. The Anti-Defamation League (2019) is a great resource for finding books that can be made accessible for language learners through teacher support and can inform students on postmodern diversity issues. We also hope that as more classrooms teach postmodern diversity, ELT publishers will be encouraged to produce materials more inclusive of each of the dimensions of the postmodern diversity framework.
We have a rare opportunity as a world network of ELT teachers, not limited by any borders, to make worldwide change. The ELT curriculum can truly be the catalyst for change that eliminates the tensions of the world. While the ideas of this article may seem dangerous to some, we would like readers to keep in mind the words of Michel Foucault, “everything is dangerous, nothing is innocent” (Foucault, 1980, p. 33). Ignoring these ideas may be as dangerous as reading them. With that in mind, we challenge the ELT community to begin including postmodern diversity issues in your language teaching curriculum.
Anti-Defamation League. (2019). Books matter: Children’s literature. Retrieved from https://www.adl.org/education-and-resources/resources-for-educators-parents-families/childrens-literature
Brugman, A. (2013). Alex as well. New York: Henry Holt.
Choi, Y. (2001). The name jar. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Common Sense Media. (2019). LGBTQ books. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/lgbtq-books
Foucault, M. (1980). Truth and power. In C. Gordon (Ed.), Power/Knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings (pp. 1972–1977). New York, NY: Pantheon Books.
Korea National Statistical Office. (2017). Foreign worker employment rate [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.kostat.go.kr/portal/korea/kor_nw/2/3/4/index.board?bmode=read&bSeq=&aSeq=365286&pageNo=1&rowNum=10&navCount=10&currPg=&sTarget=title&sTxt=
Kubota, R., & Lin, A. (2006). Race and TESOL: Introduction to concepts and theories. TESOL Quarterly, 40(3), 471-493.
Newman, T. (2018). Sex and gender: What is the difference? Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/232363.php
Yu, J. (2018, January). Decrease in Korean population with a religion. The Korea Times. Retrieved from http://www.koreatimes.com/article/1096127
Keith M. Graham is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction. He holds a master’s degree in education from Sam Houston State University. His research interest is international English teaching, particularly English Medium Instruction and Content and Language Integrated Learning.
Yunkyeong Choi is a Ph.D. student in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in English as a Second Language. She holds a master’s degree in English Education from Hanyang University in Korea. Her research interests include task-based language teaching (TBLT), particularly how TBLT could be used to promote L2 learners’ pragmatic development.
INJECTING LEADERSHIP INTO THE ESL/EFL CURRICULUM: FIVE BEST PRACTICES FOR EFFECTIVE IEP INSTRUCTION
Adil Bentahar, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA
As language educators, we have not only the opportunity but also the honorable charge of bringing about change in our classrooms, schools, and communities. There is more we can do in EFL and ESL classrooms than teaching students subject-verb agreement and thesis statement creation. A pivotal instructional area worth considering in English language classrooms is leadership.
Of course, adding leadership-oriented content would lay the onus on teachers to promote leadership development while still meeting specific course goals. Paterson (2019) and Barton (2019) highlighted many ways of introducing leadership in language classrooms. In this article, I aim to supplement some of their suggestions with practices I have experienced firsthand, along with other practices shared with me by colleagues with expertise in EFL and ESL.
Leadership in the English Classroom
Sharing stories in class about leaders is a reliable way of recognizing and celebrating the value of leadership. Depending on the goals, language teachers can assign students a leadership figure to read about or listen to. Teachers can provide content with level-appropriate listening-and-reading comprehension tasks, whereby students complete wh– questions, such as “What made X a leader, and how successful were they?” In an intensive English program (IEP) reading and writing course, my students chose a book on a leader who—they thought—made a difference (e.g., Barack Obama); this was an assignment used for extensive reading purposes. The students then reported on their books by evaluating the figure in terms of socially responsible and not socially responsible leadership or by comparing them to another figure introduced earlier or chosen by the students for this very purpose. Using readings on leadership figures of relevance to students, the unit, or the activity as a foundation for productive-skill (writing or speaking) assignments can truly help enhance students’ learning.
In addition to leaders portrayed in texts, language teachers’ own leadership roles are worthwhile for class discussion. During an ESL class discussion, I seized the opportunity to list a few student organizations and exemplified my previous involvement as the former president of U.S.-based student organizations. Weeks later, two of my students pleasantly surprised the class by announcing they had joined Virginia Tech’s Saudi Student Club as officers. As long as it is done humbly, displaying one’s leadership in class can be empowering to students. In addition, depending on the context, teachers can share examples of previous and current leadership providing major service to the department and college (e.g., as union representatives or level coordinators) or to civil society (e.g., as not-for-profit organization founders and active members); they can also explain how they share leadership with other colleagues or with students. Students often look up to their teachers as the best role models and as great leaders.
As an additional step in developing leadership skills, a common practice among my colleagues is to put students in charge by assigning them roles and asking them to take responsibility for class activities. Some students facilitate or lead a discussion; others take notes of the discussion, while other members may be tasked with presenting the group’s view to the rest of the class. By a small stretch, we may consider even those handing out papers as taking on a leadership role of a sort. In a word, putting students in charge is tantamount to helping them assume leadership roles.
Promoting English Through Leadership Beyond the Classroom Walls
Social justice and civic responsibility are examples of content areas replete with opportunities for students to learn to deliberate options, objectively examine social issues, and propose well thought-out solutions to a community problem (Bentahar & O’Brien, 2019), which are skills great leaders are known to possess. Hoping to raise awareness of a major social issue, a group of teenagers in my EFL class in Morocco spent hours in schools and neighborhoods educating other students about bullying, a social issue fraught with unspoken assumptions in that country, especially when numerous teenagers’ bullying-related suicides go unnoticed and soon become forgotten (Nasri, 2014). Despite their age, these young leaders candidly and confidently affirmed that school stakeholders [including administrators and students] ought to speak up to ensure the accountability of everyone involved. Back in the classroom, students then reported their learning outcomes and reflections through oral presentations in English with, in this case, some of the school administrators in attendance.
Opportunities abound for building students’ social responsibility and active involvement in their communities beyond the classroom. Teachers and administrators can give students relevant responsibility outside the classroom and help them build the confidence needed for success. For instance, taking on relevant IEP administrative duties, some students could commit to announcing events, while others could translate forms for new students during placement testing. Regardless of the scope of the tasks, small undertakings may become big responsibilities and authentic opportunities for developing social responsibility at school (Barton, 2019). As previously mentioned, school or university clubs can also be empowering, especially when students help recruit other members to join clubs and exercise essential civic concepts, such as campaigning, voting, and running for leadership positions. Similarly, extracurricular activities constitute an authentically appropriate support mechanism for English learners to interact responsibly and confidently with community members, collaborate on school projects, and take on roles, such as committee members, media coordinators, and club chairs, which reflects an informed, active, and responsible civic awareness that leaders possess (Bentahar, 2018).
Overall, rather than a strict adherence to textbooks, supplementing and diversifying the curriculum with leadership-oriented materials and activities is well worth our time and effort. By considering the merits of leadership content, language teachers will be able not only to meet their learning outcomes but also to create opportunities for their students to exercise leadership. The role and power of teachers is paramount in shaping students’ present and future experiences as socially responsible and active community members. In Harold McAlindon’s words, “Do not follow where the path may lead…go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Barton, T. (2019). Developing student leadership through service learning. Serve Learn. https://servelearn.co/blog/developing-student-leadership-through-service-learning
Bentahar, A. (2018, March). Empowering ELLs through civic learning. Virginia TESOL Newsletter, 21(1), 10–11.
Bentahar, A., & O’Brien, J. (2019). Raising students’ awareness of social justice through civic literacy. Journal of Social Studies Education Research, 10(1), 193–218.
Nasri, A. (2014, September 26). Bullying in Moroccan schools. Morocco World News. https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2014/09/140092/bullying-in-moroccan-schools
Paterson, J. (2019). Strategies for teaching students leadership skills. Education World. https://www.educationworld.com/tips-teaching-students-become-tomorrow%E2%80%9s-leaders.
Adil Bentahar is an assistant professor in the English Language Institute (ELI) at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware, with an MA and PhD in curriculum and instruction and a graduate certificate in ESL. He has served in numerous leadership positions in the United States and Morocco, hence his keen interest in diversifying the TESOL curriculum with leadership and civics materials. Prior to joining the ELI, Adil taught ESL at Virginia Tech’s Language and Culture Institute and EFL in Morocco’s high schools.
FACILITATING THE JUSTICE-ORIENTED CURRICULUM: A CASE STUDY IN AN EFL SPEAKING COURSE
According to Preus et al. (2016), civic engagement aims to develop citizens capable of making appropriate decisions in a wide range of social and political scenarios, ranging from “voting, obeying laws, providing community service, supporting political campaigns, community organizing, and protesting” (p. 67). Among a range of possible frameworks promptly to teaching civic engagement includes the one proposed by Westhmeimer and Kahne (2004), studying the differing extents of leadership experiences, considering personally responsible citizens, participatory citizens, and justice-oriented citizens. Alternatively, Malin et al. (2015) looked into the topic of civic purposes based on the association between individuals’ intentions and actions. Primarily, the authors responded to the civic purposes of individuals’ formed intentions, driven efforts to accomplish intentions, and acquired beyond-the-self consequences. In association with the different combinations of the aforementioned components, individuals who showed intentions and actions are classified into a few groups, namely, either day-dreamers, dabblers, or those having self-oriented goals. Despite the growing importance of civic engagement in Vietnamese higher education contexts, very little research has been done in exploring the possibilities and effects of civic engagement in EFL teaching and learning. Therefore, this study has the potential to fill this gap as a pioneering work in a number of related fields.
In our personal practice, we have learned that EFL-related experiences in Vietnamese classes are excessively dependent on knowledge-based curricula which consequently neglect learners’ cultural backgrounds as well as the voices they exercise in cultivating experiential learning. Similarly, it is commonly agreed that what the Internet can offer via interactive platforms has benefited the values and outcomes of learners in all education levels as authentically engaging sources of teaching and learning (Nelson et al., 2017). The following inquiry sought to examine the following research question: “To what extent and how can justice-oriented EFL curriculum influence students’ higher civic purpose and civic engagement?”
In response to the research question, the study included a total of 12 volunteer Vietnamese intermediate-level English learners who were taking a speaking course at the time of the study. Qualitative data were collected and triangulated through multiple sources (class observations, reflections, and semistructured interviews) with open coding and reviewed by participants for accuracy. There were a total of six critical issues, which helped learners reflect on their understanding of social issues as authentic sources of knowledge in EFL language learning as well as develop their civic actions and skills.
Findings and Discussion
It is important to clarify that the justice-oriented EFL curriculum is relatively new in Vietnamese education. Thus, we hypothesize the overarching effects of innovative curricula on learners’ attained academic goals and soft skills. Generally, learners shared positive experiences, examined through the lens of Levinson’s (2014) perspective of civic engagement, regarding learner sense of value, competence, autonomy, and relatedness.
Seven participants (five through interviews and two through researcher observation) expressed their positive reflection on unfamiliar learning approaches, seeing them as beneficial opportunities to build self-confidence and stronger identities. Despite a lack of prior experience used to accommodate difficult activity tasks, participants were enthusiastically engaged in new skills, such as knowledge research, inquiry, analysis, and evaluation. Their improved abilities to work with others have “contributed something important and meaningful” (Participant #4) to their community. Beyond being committed to responsibilities, participants shared they are now more confident in leadership roles and cultivating extraordinary efforts to study different heated social topics (e.g., school bullying, air pollution in Hanoi, garbage classification, living independently when turning 18, illegal immigration, ethnic children and their rights for education). Furthermore, interviews with participants revealed that investigations into social problems compelled them to (1) reposition their self-beliefs and critical voices for change and (2) realize themselves as important agents of change.
As participants studied a range of varying topics during this study, they developed a passion to challenge stereotypes by learning about and sharing experiences and ideas with other people. Knowledge and skills are classified into two domains: academic (technical skills) and nonacademic (soft-skills) (Tran, 2018). During the project, participants were expected to explore domestic and international sources, and they were interested in seeking to validate and connect different threads in relation to what they researched. For example, on the topic of illegal immigration, Participant #2 gathered compelling facts and figures from local and international resources to illustrate the potentiality and the seriousness of the problem. It turns out that collecting knowledge required students to pay more attention to research-based resources. In such a way, research skills through critical reading not only improved the participants’ critical thinking and decision-making skills, but also provided them with better ways to use suitable linguistic tools (vocabulary and structure) in work settings. For example, in-class and public presentations helped the participants with necessary competences, such as productive collaboration and effective communication when they had well-prepared materials (e.g., Internet-based slides, digital posters) and research-based resources. Such activities helped to develop their academic skills and showed that a justice-oriented EFL curriculum resulted in the crucially important development of knowledge and skill competence.
Some observations indicated that learners’ sense of autonomy increased, which could result in higher civic efficiency. The key imperatives suggested the learners were urged to ask “why” questions rather than only asking superficial questions. As justice-oriented citizens, the participants experienced opportunities to incorporate their voices in sensible and meaningful decision-making. Therefore, we could see a sharp difference in learning experiences when compared to their traditional learning approaches, which purely relied on teachers as the primary resources. Traditional learning experiences do not include knowledge of social issues; this newly proposed curriculum considered students as active learners who decide and create new knowledge which is closely relevant to their academic learning needs. Those needs can, in turn, be considered important to equip students with vital skills to prepare for their future career, in terms of career knowledge and skills, understanding of social problems happening in surrounding communities, and knowledge about global trends. Those knowledge and skills pave a path for better preparation to enter the workforce related to the field, thus enabling their long-term competitiveness and growth in domestic and international markets.
Towards final posters to prepare for the class presentations, the students developed greatly their critical thinking skills. During in-class and out-of-class discussion sessions, they recognized that they had a lot of valuable time to immerse themselves in both a rich source of knowledge as well as different schools of thought. From that, they developed an awareness of diversity in terms of people’s thoughts and then responded to differences in an appropriate manner. Consistent with these findings, Participants #1, #3, and #6 shared they were thrilled at first to participate in the project, and they became more engaged because of its critical nature. During in-class and open-day presentations, students were capable of discussing their progressive thoughts and sharing fresh outlooks with others. The learners inspired themselves to act more civically as participatory citizens and justice-oriented citizens, which are desired outcomes, per Westhmeimer and Kahne (2004).
The project created a civically collaborative setting. In addition to facilitating a space allowing learners’ voices and an increase in civic literacy, the study resulted in participants feeling open to speak publicly about and seek collaboration with their friends and teachers on identifying, researching, and comprehending various domains related to selected topics in the context of local communities. For instance, the increase in responsibility, interaction, and leadership was Participant #6’s identified learning outcomes when it came to her “taking a stand for local community improvement.” Participant #1 realized that “individuals cannot complete the project, but with support from team members.” As an advocate of creating justice-oriented citizens, Participant #1 realized the importance of “connecting and collaborating to achieve better goals politically, economically, educationally, and culturally.”
This research examined the extent to which the justice-oriented EFL curriculum, assisted by Internet-based benefits, influences Vietnamese intermediate-level learners’ perceptions regarding civic purposes and engagement in civic actions. The analyses also suggested that participants appeared to perceive the role changes to different extents, encouraging them to move beyond their comfort zones to learn from different perspectives and experiences and become agents of change to lead and defend civil liberties in their own communities. Participants demonstrated an increased level of involvement in civic purposes and skills: Firstly, they became positive about the values of civic engagement that enables them to develop academic skills in college; Secondly, they actively sought to find different ways in about bridging academic knowledge to teaching skills; Thirdly, they appeared substantially more confident in utilizing autonomy to create and transform formal and informal communities of practice. We recommend that stakeholders become attentive to considering learners’ cultural backgrounds and beliefs about civic purpose and engagement as resources to explore how to effectively develop their civic skills in academic and nonacademic settings.
Levinson, M. (2014). Action civics in the classroom. Social Education, 78(2), 68–70.
Malin, H., Ballard, P. J., & Damon, W. (2015). Civic purpose: An integrated construct for understanding civic development in adolescence. Human Development, 58(2), 103–130.
Nelson, J. L., Lewis, D. A., & Lei, R. (2017). Digital democracy in America: A look at civic engagement in an Internet Age. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 94(1), 318–334. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699016681969
Preus, B., Payne, R., Wick, C., & Glomski, E. (2016). Listening to the voices of civically engaged high school students. The High School Journal, 100(1), 66–84.
Tran, L. H. N. (2018). Game of blames: Higher education stakeholders’ perceptions of causes of Vietnamese graduates’ skills gap.International Journal of Educational Development, 62, 302–312.
Westheimer, J., & Kahne, J. (2004). What kind of citizen? The politics of educating for democracy. American Educational Research Journal, 41(2), 237–269. https://doi.org/10.3102/00028312041002237
Tung Vu is a doctoral student at the University at Albany SUNY, USA. He is interested in intercultural communication for teacher education.
Thao Nguyen is a lecturer at the University of Languages and International Studies (ULIS), VNU, Vietnam. She researches on the development of English language skills and teaching methodology for teacher education.
DIVERSITY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE: INTEGRATING CULTURE IN THE TESOL CURRICULUM THROUGH PROVERBS
Tabitha Kidwell, American University, Washington, DC, USA
As TESOL professionals, we have the great responsibility to prepare our students for interactions with people unlike themselves. We help students develop the competencies necessary to travel and study internationally, share and access information, and integrate within new communities. Students’ success requires both linguistic and cultural competence, yet, in many contexts, the TESOL curriculum prioritizes linguistic objectives over cultural ones (Young & Sachdev, 2011). If teachers focus only on grammar, vocabulary, and structure, we miss a valuable opportunity. By also addressing cultural objectives, we can help our students develop intercultural competence: the ability to understand, respect, and establish relationships with people from different cultures (Byram & Wagner, 2018). Cultural content is not simply an “add-on,” however. It can be integrated within each lesson, even if the curriculum focuses primarily on linguistic features. This article describes an activity that allows students to build language skills while thinking critically about cultural similarities and differences.
Class Activity: English Proverbs
In this activity, students discuss proverbs, popular sayings that hold great communicative power and cultural significance. See Table 1 for a listing of some common English-language proverbs, as well as an explanation of each proverb in plain language. Sharing proverbs with students is a great way to help them understand the concept of figurative language, where meaning is alluded to rather than directly stated. Teachers often share proverbs with students when relevant vocabulary comes up, or as a motivator at the beginning of class. In this activity, students work together to unpack the meaning and cultural load of well-known proverbs.
Table 1. Common English Language Proverbs
Don't judge a book by its cover.
Don’t make assumptions by someone’s/something’s appearance.
Actions speak louder than words.
What you do is more important than what you say.
Money does not grow on trees.
You must work for what you have or want.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
If you eat healthily you will not have health problems.
The best things in life are free.
Appreciate your friends and family, what you already have.
Better late than never.
It is better to be late than to give up altogether.
Rome wasn't built in a day.
Great things take time.
Variety is the spice of life.
Diversity makes things interesting.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.
You can’t force anyone to do something against their will.
Birds of a feather flock together.
Similar people are likely to be friends.
Don't bite off more than you can chew.
Don’t start a project you won’t be able to complete.
The grass is always greener on the other side.
You always want what you can’t have.
A leopard cannot change its spots.
A person can’t change their character.
You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
It’s difficult to change someone’s habits.
Where there's smoke, there's fire.
If it looks bad, it probably is.
To prepare, create cards listing either a proverb or its explanation. Think about your students’ prior knowledge, and preteach any vocabulary from the proverbs that will be unfamiliar to them. Model the activity by displaying two or three sets of proverbs and explanations on the board and matching them as a class. Then, distribute a card to each student and ask them to find the person whose card matches their own. In other words, they should match the proverb with its meaning. Once each student has found their partner, give them a few minutes to discuss their proverbs together. To support their discussions, you could display one or more discussion questions, such as:
- Are there any similar proverbs in other languages you know?
- Do you agree with this proverb?
- In what situations could this proverb be used?
- Who do you think would say this proverb?
- What cultural beliefs are hidden in this proverb?
- Do those cultural beliefs match those of your cultural communities?
After partners have had time to discuss their proverbs, ask each group to share with the class. Lead a class discussion about the meaning and significance of the proverbs.
You can build on this activity in many ways. For example, you could ask students to move to one side of the room to show if they agree with the proverb, or to the other side of the room if they disagree, then discuss their responses. You could give students texts describing a dilemma, and ask them to supply the proverb that would be appropriate advice in response to that situation. You could also ask students to write a story that has a certain proverb as its moral. Once students are familiar with these proverbs, you can even use the proverb/explanation cards to pair students randomly.
This activity has a number of beneficial outcomes. It offers an authentic and engaging context for students to engage in discussions with each other. Students will develop the ability to use figurative language communicatively, and they will also build awareness of the cultural information that is hidden in common sayings. If you have a diverse and multicultural class, students will be exposed to proverbs from other cultures and will have the chance to identify similarities and differences within their communities. This activity offers an example of how TESOL professionals can integrate cultural content within rich language practice activities. Doing so allows them to diversify the TESOL curriculum and help students develop both the linguistic and cultural competencies necessary for successful communication and connection across lines of difference.
Byram, M., & Wagner, M. (2018). Making a difference: Language teaching for intercultural and international dialogue. Foreign Language Annals, 51, 140–151. http://doi.org/10.1111/flan.12319
Young, T. J., & Sachdev, I. (2011). Intercultural communicative competence: Exploring English language teachers’ beliefs and practices. Language Awareness, 20(2), 81–98. http://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2010.540328
Tabitha Kidwell is a language teacher and teacher educator interested in the role of culture in language teaching. She is a faculty member in the TESOL program at American University, and has taught languages and trained teachers on five continents.
DIVERSIFYING THE TESOL CURRICULUM WITH NEW PEACE LINGUISTICS
Andy Curtis, Graduate School of Education, Anaheim University, CA, USA
The Case for Including New Peace Linguistics into a Diversified TESOL Curriculum
One of the most recent published definitions of Peace Linguistics (Curtis, 2018) states that it is “an area of Applied Linguistics, based on systematic analyses of the ways in which language is used to communicate and create conflict, and to communicate and create peace. Peace Linguistics is interdisciplinary, drawing on fields such as Peace Studies and Conflict Transformation, bringing those together with fields such as Sociolinguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis” (p. 12). Since that definition was published, it has become clear that, although the idea of Peace Linguistics (PL) has been around for decades (Crystal, 1999; Gomes de Matos, 2000), few people have heard of it, and even fewer have taught or learned about it until recently (Curtis, 2017).
In its earlier versions, PL was based on giving advice on using language “to communicate peacefully” (Gomes de Matos, 2000, p. 341). Although that was good advice and an important starting point, the ‘old’ PL did not involve the analysis of actual language used by speakers and writers. Therefore, the New Peace Linguistics (NPL) has focused on analyzing the language used by some of the most powerful people in the world, as it is they who have the power to bring about peace or to start wars. Two central tenets within NPL are, there can be language without conflict, but there cannot be conflict without language because all conflicts start and end with language. If two world leaders hurl insults at each other, then their ‘war of words’ could easily become a war of guns, missiles, and bombs. And whenever a peaceful resolution is found, it is based on the language of negotiation, mediation, and forgiveness, to name a few.
A tragic example of how an argument between two people can escalate and result in the death of many is the killing of dozens of people in January 2020 in Thailand. A soldier in the Thai army “killed his commanding officer, stole weapons from a military base, and went on to launch a devastating attack on civilians.” According to multiple, reliable news sources, the soldier “said that a property deal appeared to have given [him] a sense of grievance which led to his rampage”. Two people argue – many people die.
The First Peace Linguistics Course
In the Fall of 2016, I was invited to develop a course for Brigham Young University-Hawai’i (BYU-H) on PL, which still appears to be the only PL course of its kind, as far as we know, i.e., a university-level, credit-bearing course on PL. We–BYU-H and I–carried out extensive searches, looking to see if anyone, anywhere had taught such a course before, but found nothing. The location is important as a key part of the BYU-H’s vision is to: “assist individuals ... in their efforts to influence the establishment of peace internationally,” and to prepare “men and women with the intercultural and leadership skills necessary to promote world peace”. The course was first offered at BYU-H in January and February 2017, over eight weeks. The first and last weeks were taught online, and the six main weeks were made up of six hours of classes per week making a total of 36 hours of in-class, face-of-face teaching, plus two weeks of online learning. As stated in the original course syllabus, the course objectives were:
“By the end of this course, successful participants will be able to:
- demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the linguistics of language used to communicate for peaceful purposes.
- explore, examine and articulate the cultural and linguistic aspects of the languages of conflict and of peace.
- present and explain the use of poetic language, drawings, photographs, music, and other forms of text to illustrate different aspects of communicating for peaceful purposes.
- gather, analyze and present data on people’s perceptions of peace, in relation to language and culture.
- carry out a critical discourse analysis of a text which shows how language can be used to create peace or to create conflict” (Curtis, 2017, p. 30).
After careful consideration of a number of possible course texts, we chose The Language of Peace: Communicating to Create Harmony, by Rebecca Oxford (2013). Oxford sets out 6 principles of communicating peacefully: “Peace is a viable option” (p. 4); “We can and must declare peace instead of violence” (p. 10); “Language has verbal and nonverbal forms” (p. 11); “Peace language addresses multiple dimensions: Inner, Interpersonal, Intergroup, International, Intercultural, and Ecological” (p. 12); Speakers of peace language are ordinary people – yet also extraordinary” (p. 22); “The language of peace is not always simple” (p. 23).” Although the same core text was used in 2018 (Oxford, 2013), a number of changes were made when the PL course was taught the second time, including a greater balance between the linguistics content and the peace studies content. The students’ assignments and assessments were also revised, with less of an emphasis in 2018 than in 2017 on the remembering of facts and figures, names and dates, definitions and descriptions.
From 2019 onwards, the PL course was taught on a regular semester schedule, for three hours per week over approximately four months, rather than being taught intensively, six hours per week, over two months. That schedule gives the course participants more time to explore the large volumes of material and to connect their PL course to their majors. In both years (2017 and 2018), the class size was approximately 20, and as a result of BYU-H’s highly multilingual, multicultural student population, the two cohorts were from Australia, Canada, Fiji, Hong Kong, Japan, Mainland China, Mongolia, the Philippines, Samoa, Tahiti, the USA, and elsewhere. The two main majors of the students were TESOL and Peacebuilding, as well as students from a number of other departments, such as Communication Studies, Cultural Anthropology, Elementary Education, Political Science, and Social Work.
A Short, Simple Activity
One activity I have done with the NPL course participants is to give each of them a piece of paper, with a simple line drawing of a person holding a rifle of some kind, and wearing a military uniform of some kind. All of the pieces of paper have exactly the same drawing, but half of them have the caption ‘Terrorist’ and the other half have the caption ‘Freedom Fighter’. The students sit in pairs, and without showing their partner their paper, they orally describe to each other their drawings. A few things stand out each time we do this activity. First is how negative the descriptive language is when the caption is ‘Terrorist’, for example, the students use words such as ‘evil’, ‘killer’ and even ‘murderer’. However, the language that is elicited when the caption is ‘Freedom Fighter’ is far more neutral, such as ‘soldier’, and ‘warrior’, and sometimes even positive, with words like ‘hero’ being used. Another thing is the looks on the faces of the students when they put down their pieces of paper and see that the drawings are, in fact, identical. Many of the students are extremely surprised to see how much the one- or two-word caption shaped their thinking and how that thinking was reflected in their language choices.
To understand how the language of some of the most powerful people in the world shapes our world, NPL has focused on political leaders. For example, on 5 January 2020, Brad Parscale, the election campaign manager for US President Donald Trump, said: “The President’s war chest and grassroots army make his re-election campaign an unstoppable juggernaut”. As well as “war chest” and “army”, the President refers to the “war room”, from which his re-election campaign will be run. Such ‘warist discourse’ is designed to present the 2020 US Presidential elections as some sort of ‘battle’ between good-and-evil, right-and-wrong, black-and-white. It is also worth noting Parscale’s use of the adjectival modifier, “grassroots”, which is designed to give the impression of some sort of ‘people’s uprising’ against perceived injustices. And Parscale’s use of “unstoppable juggernaut”, which is tautological, creates the image of some massive, irresistible force, crushing everything in its path. Heightened awareness and in-depth analyses of this kind of language may help us understand how people in power utilize language to influence their audience in ways that could either lead to a great deal of conflict or help bring about lasting peace.
Curtis, A (2017). Back from the battlefield: Resurrecting peace linguistics. TESL Reporter, 50 (1), 20-34. Retrieved from: http://ojs-dev.byuh.edu/index.php/Issue1/article/view/966/919
Curtis, A. (2018). Introducing and defining peace linguistics. The Word, 27(3), 11-13. Retrieved from: http://www.hawaiitesol.wildapricot.org/resources/Documents/Word/2018%20May.pdf
Crystal, D. (1999). A dictionary of language (2nd ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Gomes de Matos, F. (2000). Harmonizing and humanizing political discourse: The contribution of peace linguists. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 6(4), 339-344.
Oxford, R. L. (2013). The language of peace: Communicating to create harmony. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
From 2015 to 2016, Andy Curtis served as the 50th President of TESOL International Association. He is the author of the first book to be published on Peace Linguistics, titled The New Peace Linguistics and The Role of Language in Conflict, which will be published in Spring 2020, by the University of Michigan Press.
ABOUT THIS COMMUNITY
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: CRITICAL STORIES AS SOCIAL JUSTICE
Greetings Social Responsibility Interest Section (SRIS)!
We are Ethan Trinh and Luis Javier Pentón Herrera, the editors of the SRIS newsletter, TESOLers for Social Responsibility. We are excited to announce that the theme for our May 2020 issue is Critical Stories as Social Justice. For this issue, we are looking for articles, personal reflections, lesson plans, and research reports where teachers’ and students’ critical stories are shared in English learning settings. In addition, we are also open to artistic submissions such as paintings, poems, stories, pictures, among others, that celebrate, empower, and explore the topic of including stories as a critical tool to teach social justice in ESOL/EFL/ESL/English learning settings across the globe.
In choosing this theme, we were inspired by beautiful stories from bilingual/multilingual individuals from around the world. In this issue, we hope to celebrate these individuals’ courage, brilliance, and excellence while honoring their critical journeys and stories. Additional (non-exhaustive topics) include:
- Use of critical stories in English learning environments (lesson plans, activities, etc.)
- Personal reflections of assimilation and acculturation (of teachers and/or students)
- Activities that promote critical stories that aim toward social justice in TESOL classrooms
- Short critical stories as activities that can be used in English learning settings
- Poems, visual representations, and other forms of artistic expressions
We would love to share a wide range of voices and perspectives on this topic and particularly encourage submissions from ESOL/ESL/EFL communities, students, writers, and scholars from around the world.
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!
- Visual Representations/Visual Arts: Share any drawings, pictures, paintings, etc. that fit into the special issue and that align with social justice.
- 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.
- Written 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 in the conversation.
- 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 1,500 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 1,500 words. If you have an idea but need some guidance on how to develop it more fully, please email us at email@example.com, and we will brainstorm together!
Please send your articles to Luis and Ethan at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "SRIS Newsletter Submission.”
The deadline for submissions is 30 April 2020. We aim to publish this issue by the end of June 2020.
General Submission Quick Guide
- 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 five references;
- follow the style guidelines in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th 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!
Luis and Ethan
INTRODUCING OUR NEW CO-EDITORS
Greetings Social Responsibility Interest Section!
We are Luis Javier Pentón Herrera and Ethan Trinh the editors of the SRIS newsletter, TESOLers for Social Responsibility. This past year (2019-2020) has been a wonderful experience for both of us as we worked with amazing scholars from all over the world who are making a difference in the TESOL field. We are saddened to announce that we are going to step down from this position due to our professional commitments during the 2020–2021 academic year. However, we are excited to introduce to our SRIS community the two incoming co-editors for the TESOLers for Social Responsibility Newsletter, Trisha Dowling and John Turnbull. A little bit of information about our incoming co-editors:
John Turnbull is an English as a Second Language Specialist at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He earned the MA TESOL in the Department of English at Northern Illinois University and has worked for ten years as a teacher among and as an advocate for Latin American communities in the United States, México, and South America. In Atlanta, John worked for the nonprofit organizations Literacy Volunteers of Atlanta and the Latin American Association. In 2011, in Popayán, Cauca, Colombia, he served as a six-month volunteer for a teacher’s union, La Asociación de Institutores y Trabajadores de la Educación del Cauca, providing curriculum and teacher-development resources for public-school K-11 English teachers. He was also a peace accompanier in the Urabá region of Colombia. In Chicago, he has volunteered with Universidad Popular, a community center in La Villita, and has worked with English-language learners in Lithuania, Cape Verde, and Thailand.
Trisha Dowling is currently a lecturer at the University of Michigan English Language Institute. She began her TESOL career as a bilingual teaching assistant working with migrant communities in western Michigan. Her experience includes teaching Business English online, being a K-6 bilingual aide, and teaching middle schoolers in Heibei province in China. In her work in community college and undergraduate ESL classrooms, Trisha is happiest when integrating service-learning and community-building activities in an effort to create a more socially responsible and inclusive educational environment and the local community. Trisha enjoys sharing practical teaching ideas through publications and presentations. The majority of her work focuses on a holistic approach and developing student agency.
Ethan and I are excited to pass the baton to John and Trisha and excitedly look forward to seeing how the SRIS newsletter continues to be a place of gathering and learning.
Thank you to all of our readers for your amazing support throughout this wonderful, enriching year.
Luis and Ethan