Reader Response Journal

Toward Identity-Oriented Teacher Education: Critical Autoethnographic Narrative by Bedrettin Yazan

In this article, Yazan outlines an approach to integrating critical autoethnographic narrative writing into teacher education programs. Situated against a backdrop of increased awareness of teacher education as a process of identity formation, he argues that critical autoethnographic narrative (CAN), is a tool that can help teacher candidates develop their identities and document their journey throughout the program. He proposes CAN as a living document, that teacher candidates work on over the course of their entire program, using a critical perspective to situated their experiences in the social context, and allowing them a chance to integrate their past experiences with their current learning through storying and re-storying. This narrative process solidifies the link between theory and practice and helps teacher candidates talk their way into understanding the meaningfulness of their experiences. Autoethnography, “stories of/about the self told through the lens of culture” (Adams, Holman Jones, & Ellis, 2015, p. 2), is emerging as a valid genre of research in TESOL, and Yazan mentions one doctoral dissertation, two masters theses and three published articles in the field that use the method. Next, he outlines his vision for how CAN would be integrated into a teacher education program, with teacher candidates completing their first reflection prior to entering the program and revising their narrative continuously throughout the entire length of the program. He sees CAN as being shared on an online platform, allowing multiple people to comment on the work in progress, while also being a graded assignment in every course of the entire program. He suggests that there could also be a one credit class for students to discuss their writing experiences each semester. He sees it as being a central organizing feature of the entire program. He notes that teacher candidates will have to be guided towards the critical component and provides a list of questions that can help them unpack master narratives that uphold dominant ideologies. He also points out that teachers are valid knowledge producers in TESOL, but are underrepresented at conferences and in publications, and that CAN provides a possible path to including teachers’ voices within our field. He lists possible challenges with implementing this proposal, from programatic concerns, such as prioritizing the time and getting the whole faculty on board, to teacher candidate’s own attitudes, level of criticality, and comfort sharing their experiences and feelings. However, he thinks this approach can be adjusted or borrowed from to fit different contexts and hopes this idea contributes to the thinking on how TESOL teacher education can more explicitly include issues of teacher identity.

I read this article because I’m working on an autoethnography for a course I’m in and wanted to consider how autoethnographies are positioned within TESOL. His overview of the autoethnographies others have published in our field was quite useful, and I will probably read some of those as well. I definitely see the value in having teacher candidates reflect critically on their experiences and contexts, and I can see autoethnography as a slightly more formal tool that allows pre-service teachers to do that in a systematic, condoned way. I’m also intrigued by the possibility of integrating it program-wide, especially given that there is such a range to types of TESOL teacher preparation programs out there. I can see something like this being integrated relatively easily into a teacher education program that uses a tight cohort model, like the one I graduated from at SIT, because the teachers were very collaborative and cognizant of the connections between courses. In a program where teacher candidates have more leeway and freedom in their choice of courses, I can see there being more challenges integrating a proposal like this. It’s opened my mind up, though, because it’s outside the standard practices in a way I hadn’t considered before. What would it look like if entire programs did foster critical identity development in this way? It’s a pretty exciting idea, once I get over my initial logistical objections (which he acknowledges in the piece). How could these ideas be implemented, even if not exactly in this form? There’s a lot of food for thought here.

Adams, T. E., Holman Jones, S., & Ellis, C. (2015). Autoethnography: Understanding qualitative research. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Yazan, B. (2019). Toward identity‐oriented teacher education: Critical autoethnographic narrative. TESOL Journal, 10(1), 1-15.

Reader Response Journal

Ubuntu Translanguaging: An Alternative Framework for Complex Multilingual Encounters by Leketi Makalela

In this article, Makalela outlines his framework for ubuntu translanguaging, an approach to translanguaging informed by African history, cultural values and linguistic realities. He begins by contrasting Euro-colonial notions of the nation state and linguistic purity with an African approach to multilingualism that blurs the boundaries between languages and reflects the linguistic continuum of many African languages, which he believes have been inappropriately separated into distinct languages according to imported norms. He presents the example of Mapungubwe, a pre-colonial multilingual city state located in the Limpopo valley, as a site of linguistic and cultural confluence, as shown by archaeological artifacts. He argues that it is the European practice of dividing Africa into colonies with boundaries based on colonial language borders that led to Africa’s language struggles, including using poorly-understood colonial languages in education and excluding indigenous African languages from positions of esteem. He argues that translanguaging is the proper framework for thinking about the complex multilingual encounters typical in African settings, and presents his own idea of fuzzy languaging to describe situations involving more than two languages in communicative encounters (in his research he has documented up to six being used in a classroom in the course of a day). In contrast with both additive and subtractive bilingualism, he suggests that translanguaging fits better with the African experience of learning multiple languages before entering school, a situation where numbering the L1, L2, etc. doesn’t make sense. He puts forward the idea of ubuntu translanguaging, which combines the South African idea of Ubuntu (I am because we are; we are because I am, which he abbreviates as “I x we”) with translanguaging in a four part model, based on incompletion (languages are incomplete without other languages), interdependence (interdependent multilingualism means that speakers cannot make full sense of their surroundings without using multiple languages), and both vertical and horizontal flows of information (teacher to student would be vertical, while student to student would be horizontal). In his model, these four pillars are constantly disrupting and recreating language boundaries. He then includes some suggestions for an ubuntu translanguaging pedagogy, meant to normalize the systematic inclusion of multiple languages in creative ways in the classroom. He notes that translanguaging strategies reflect the internal reality of multilingual learners, for whom their languages co-exist, and that they can improve literacy outcomes as well as home-school connections. He ends with a call for us to shift our perspective from the “monolingual multilingualism” perspective inherent in additive/subtractive bilingualism towards ubuntu translanguaging, with its fluid approach to multilingualism, grounded in African cultural competence.

I first read this article last year when I was preparing my keynote on African translanguaging and I revisited it after reading an article on codeswitching in a South African classroom in my class on multilingualism and plurilingualism. Makalela is drawing on the work of Ofelia Garcia, who he references several times throughout the article, but adapting her ideas within a distinctly African worldview. I find the emphasis on named languages as a European invention quite intriguing and am wondering whether other scholars who argue against the validity of named languages have examined the concept within contexts with language continuums, where the boundaries between languages are already much more porous. For example, the languages that my students in Tanzania say they speak don’t reflect the same distinctions that Ethnologue makes for Tanzanian languages. My students see Chagga as one languages (with different varieties) and Ethnologue sees it as several, but the reverse is true for Hacha. It’s therefore much less of a conceptual leap to think of translanguaging as natural, when there’s less of a consensus of what constitutes a language or not in your context. I also want to think more deeply about the ideas of incompletion and interdependence, since those are the aspects that seem most directly tied to ubuntu, and therefore least reflected in the wider literature.

Makalela, L. (2016) Ubuntu translanguaging: An alternative framework for complex multilingual encounters, Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, 34(3), 187-196.

Professional Update

July 2018 and March 2019 SRIS Newsletters: Continuing the Conversation, Building Solidarity and Allyship

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, but in the meantime, I’ve continued to publish TESOLers for Social Responsibility, the newsletter of TESOL’s Social Responsibility Interest Section. This post will highlight the work we published both in response to the 2018 TESOL Convention in Chicago and leading up to the 2019 TESOL Convention that just wrapped up in Atlanta.

The July 2018 issue of the newsletter was called Continuing the Conversation, Building Solidarity, a theme that was conceived of as a way to extend the conversations started in Chicago. The 2018 convention marked the final year that TESOL had “Forums,” before they transitioned to a new “Professional Learning Network” or PLN model. Many of the Forums that became PLNs focused on identity related or social justice issues, and so we in SRIS were very aware of the change and the reduction of resources as groups became PLNs, so we decided to make space in our newsletter for articles by and about the PLNs. My article, Black Spaces and White Norms: The Importance of BELPaF for the TESOL Community, directly responded to the change in the status of TESOL’s Black English Language Professionals and Friends group, and called on TESOL to recognize the importance of maintaining support for groups that are underrepresented within the organization, especially Black TESOLers. In the second article, Invalidated Identity and Foreign Language Anxiety: A Personal Reflection, James D. Mitchell, a member of the LGBT+ PLN, provided his perspective on how foreign language classrooms can be invalidating spaces for LGBTQ+ learners. Next, in Social Intelligence Course Implementation for English Learners, Jennifer Burr outlined a course that was deliberately designed to build social intelligence skills for newcomer students in Texas. Continuing the focus on learners’ emotional skills, Zsuzsanna Kozák & Ildikó Lázár described how a multimedia project about the Holocaust they conducted in Hungary developed students’ empathy in The Neighbor’s Window: A Visual World Foundation Project on Bystanders Becoming Upstanders. We also shared Cinthya Salazar’s review of the book Teachers as Allies: Transformative Practices for teaching DREAMers and Undocumented Students.

Our pre-convention issue was published earlier this month and focused on Allyship. We started with an article from the Sister Scholars on Speaking Up and Pushing Back: Women of Color in the Academy. These seven women (Rachel Grant, Ryuko Kubota, Angel Lin, Suhanthie Motha, Gertrude Tinker Sachs, Stephanie Vandrick, & Shelley Wong) have been my academic role models ever since I read their article Women Faculty of Color: Theorizing Our Lived Experience when I was in grad school, and it was such an honor to highlight their work from their annual TESOL panel in the newsletter. The theme of race in TESOL continued through the next two articles as well. Scott Stillar wrote a powerful reflection on Decentering Whiteness in TESOL, and my co-editor Anastasia Khawaja wrote with her colleague Lianna Smith on being White women co-chairing TESOL’s Palestinian Educators and friends PLN in Collaboration Under Occupation: Allyship for Palestine. Next, my dear friend and colleague from Tanzania, Catherine James Njau, shared the menstrual education work she does to keep Tanzanian girls in school in Keep Them Flying: Reusable Menstrual Pads and Girls Education in Tanzania. The next article, Out with the Textbook, In with the Computer: Empowering Immigrant University Employees in the ESL Classroom, showcased a course Lisana Mohammed designed to teach English to custodial workers at her university. We end the issue with two pieces focusing on trans and non-binary gender in TESOL. In the first, Transgender University Experience in Mexico, David Ruiz Guzmán shares his experience teaching two transgender students as they navigated language and gender in a rural part of Mexico. Finally, Gabe Winer shares their ideas on how we as TESOL professionals can normalize singular they and create more inclusive educational spaces for transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary people in Beyond He/She: The Power of Language in Making ESOL Environments Inclusive for Trans and Nonbinary Students and Colleagues.

It has been an absolute privilege sharing some many powerful ideas and perspectives in the SRIS newsletter over the last two years, and I am incredibly proud of the work Anastasia and I did in reviving and revitalizing the newsletter. We’ve got one final issue,  Social Justice and the Arts, that we are co-editing as a handoff issue with our incredible incoming editors, Luis Javier Pentón Herrera and Ethan Trinh, as Anastasia and I transition into our new roles as Co-Chairs of SRIS. If you’re interested in writing for us, please check out the Call for Submissions and send in your article by April 15!

Reader Response Journal

Teaching and Learning in a Multilingual School: Choices, Risks and Dilemmas by Tara Goldstein

Tara Goldstein’s Teaching and Learning in a Multilingual School is the outcome of a four year ethnographic study she conducted in the late 90s at a Toronto high school with a large population of immigrant students from Hong Kong. (At the school just 38% of the the students were L1 English speakers and 35% spoke Cantonese as their L1). Each chapter includes large quotations from the participants themselves, as well as Goldstein’s analysis and suggestions for the pedagogical implications of the themes discussed in the chapter. The first section of the books contains chapters which introduce Northside, the school and the context of the study, explore the ways teachers at Northside chose to enact multilingual or monolingual practices in their classes and their reasons for their decisions, and examine different understandings of the role of student silence in the classroom, particularly in regards to the tensions of working in small groups for multilingual students. The second section focuses on linguistic discrimination, with chapters on resisting linguicism and anti-immigrant discourse, the challenges of giving oral presentations in class, with a focus on the shared burden of communication between non-native speakers and native listeners and how non-native speakers can develop the discourse competence needed to present effectively, and a conclusion on the ways school policies, which explicitly valued multilingualism as an asset at the same time they set English as the schools language of instruction, both challenge and support students’ multilingualism. Most interesting for me was the inclusion of the play Hong Kong, Canada, which Goldstein wrote based on the same ethnographic data, which is included in its entirety in an appendix. Also includes in appendices are Goldstein’s discussion of the decisions she made in her approach to ethnography and presenting her participants voices (including her question whether this story is in fact hers to tell) and the text that one of her research assistants used to teach students oral presentation skills.

All told, there’s quite a lot in this book that was interesting, and it read incredibly quickly and easily, probably since it’s designed as a teacher education textbook rather than a book targeting other academics. It’s based on a lot of scholarly work I’m pretty familiar with, notably Rosina Lippi-Green’s work on linguicism, accent discrimination and the burden of communication, and Bonny Norton’s theories of identity and investment. I thought the in depth descriptions of the context were compelling and it was great to see so much of what her participants had to say in their own voices. I appreciated the fact that she didn’t just end with the analysis of the ethnography and instead took it a step farther to include the pedagogical discussions, since bridging the divide between research and practice is an incredibly important step that I wish more TESOL researchers incorporated deliberately into their work. But by far the most valuable piece of this is the play itself. Ethnodrama is an area that I’m increasingly interested in learning how to do myself, since it so obviously combines my areas of interest, and it’s great to see how research data can be turned into compelling art, which gives us another lens of looking at the material. I used a scene from the play as part of a workshop I did on drama for social justice in TESOL, and it was clear how much there was in her text for actor/teachers to dive into. For that reason alone, I’d recommend reading this.

Goldstein, T. (2003). Teaching and Learning in a Multilingual School: Choices, Risks and Dilemmas. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Professional Update

March 2018 Social Responsibility Interest Section Newsletter: Social Justice in the Current Political Climate

The March issue of the Social Responsibility Interest Section Newsletter is now online. The theme, Social Justice in the Current Political Climate, was chosen to extend the conversation from SRIS’s academic session at the 2018 TESOL Convention that just wrapped up in Chicago, beyond the convention by soliciting articles on the same theme.

At the convention, Anne Marie Foerster Luu, Lelja Bilal-Maley, Maitham Al Lami and Mark Algren presented about DACA, Social Justice Education, the travel ban and the impact of the American political climate on IEP enrollment. Carter Winkle and Anastasia Khawaja facilitated the session. While the presentations at the convention all focused on the US context, the newsletter contributors provided a more international perspective on the impact of the current political climate on English educators around the world.

This issue includes a guide to starting a reading group to explore racial issues with your colleagues, even if no one is an expert on the topic, a study of the identity and language benefits of MMORPGs for “los otros dreamers,” students who have been deported back to Mexico from the United States, two different articles about the challenges of collaborating with teachers in Cuba and learning from Cuban teachers, a look at the challenges of ELT in Turkey, a description of The Hands Up Project, which teaches English through drama and storytelling to Palestinian and Syrian refugee kids over video, and a book review of Out of My Great Sorrows, a biography of an artist and her family’s legacy of trauma following the Armenian genocide.

As usual, I was incredibly proud to work with so many great authors and share their writing with SRIS and the larger TESOL community. Our next issue will be “Continuing the Conversation, Building Solidarity,” which is designed to extend the conversations that happen at TESOL each year and include the rest of the SRIS community, including those who cannot make it to the convention, in the dialogue that takes place. If you’d like to share your ideas in the next issue, please check out the call for submissions and send me your work by May 1, 2018!

Reader Response Journal

Get Up and Sing! Get Up and Move! Using Songs and Movement with Young Learners of English by Joan Kang Shin

This English Teaching Forum article provides an accessible overview of the ways that songs and gestures can be combined to teach English to young learners. This is a topic that I care very much about (my first conference presentation was on combining music and movement, although I included older learners as well), and Shin is quite prominent in the area. She’s known for pioneering the International Children’s Song Approach, which uses English versions of songs from around the world, instead of just traditional American and British children’s songs. In this article, she outlines some of the benefits of using music and movement for young learners (a term she doesn’t actually define in the piece), highlighting the innate connections between the two, and the benefits for both child development and language learning. These include the emotional and social benefits of music, the authenticity and culture embedded in the songs, as well as the ways singing enhances memory and comprehension. She also notes that according to Howard Gardner (1993), musical intelligence is the first of the multiple intelligences to emerge, which I had forgotten. After outlining the reasons to use music and movement, she lays out some guidelines for teachers, using very convenient checklists. She discusses types of songs that can be used, including traditional English songs, jazz chants and her own International Children’s Song Approach, and encourages teachers to consider whether the song they want to use is connected to the language they’re teaching, simple and repetitive both musically and linguistically, and easy to choose movements for or dramatize. She provides a step by step outline of how to present songs to children, starting with the topic and the vocabulary, followed by listening to the song and repeating line by line before singing it (starting with the refrain and then the verses). She provides some guidance on choosing gestures or other activities that students could do while singing, using specific examples paired with traditional English songs, like the Itsy Bisty Spider or Head Shoulders Knees and Toes. She also includes the lyrics to three classroom management songs she’s written for familiar tunes. Overall, it’s a very useful and teacher friendly article about both why music and movement have a place in the classroom, and some very specific ideas about how teachers can implement it.

I was really pleased to see this article, since I’ve been aware of Shin’s work for a while, but there hadn’t been an easily accessible journal article version of it for me to cite in my own work before this. While I use songs and movements with students of all ages, not just young ones, Shin’s work meshes with my approach, and there are pieces of the way I teach songs that she influenced (gleaned from earlier, less comprehensive sources, like her you tube videos). While her focus is on young learners, I would argue that many of these approaches can be adapted for older students as well, as I’ve done in my classes. Obviously, the attitude you take to singing in the class is different with 18 years, compared to 8 year olds, but many of the benefits she lists, especially the memory benefits, are absolutely transferable. All in all, an article I would recommend, and not just for teachers of young learners.

Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. 2nd ed. New York: Basic Books.

Shin, J. K. (2017). Get up and sing! Get up and move! Using songs and movement with young learners of English. English Teaching Forum, 55(2), 14-25.

Professional Update

September 2017 Social Responsibility Interest Section Newsletter: Identity, Inclusion and Advocacy

This post is an overview of my second issue as co-editor of TESOLers for Social Responsibility, the newsletter for TESOL’s Social Responsibility interest section, which is online here.

For this issue, Anastasia Khawaja, my co-editor, and I chose to have a theme: Identity, Inclusion and Advocacy. I think this really resonated with people in SRIS, because the response we got was fantastic, and we were able to publish a full seven articles! We chose the theme for this issue based on the major issues raised by Seullee Talia Lee’s article, NNEST Issues are Not Only About NNESTs, which is a great piece about multicompetence and NNEST identity transformation, as well as the need for NESTs to step up in the movement for NNEST equality. Talia, who was part of my cohort at SIT, initially submitted her article for our first issue, but we decided to hang on to it and build an issues around its core themes, which I think turned out beautifully. We also had articles about integrating queer themes into an ESL class at a community college in the US, protecting children’s rights in Uganda, the way the Israeli occupation has shaped education for Palestinian students in East Jerusalem, and a detailed account of the laws and discourses surrounding undocumented students in the US. We had a special section featuring two reflections as well, one on TESOL’s Advocacy and Policy Summit from an attendee’s perspective and one on the parallels between diversity and inclusion initiatives and TESOL, by former TESOL president Andy Curtis.

From an editorial perspective, this issue was particularly interesting. We wound up having a lot of behind the scenes discussions, on everything from how to handle local/world Englishes, editing work by people we admire, and advocating for inclusivity behind the scenes, given the sensitive topics this issue touched on. It also lead to my first direct interaction with TESOL’s board, who were incredibly supportive and wonderful to work with. Based on my interactions with them regarding this issues that this issue brought up, I’m really proud to be a part of TESOL, and to have the leadership we do, and I think we established some important precedents for the organization.

Our next issue is themed around Social Justice in the Classroom, and will be coming out in December!

Reader Response Journal

Multimodal Pedagogies for Teacher Education in TESOL by Youngjoo Yi and Tuba Angay-Crowder

In this article, Yi and Angay-Crowder outline many of the challenges to integrating multimodal practices into TESOL teacher education classes. While many teachers recognize the benefits of multimodality, they often feel unprepared to make use of these new approaches in their own teaching. Differentiating between multimodality, “an interdisciplinary, social semiotic approach that understands communication and representation as the integration of multiple modes for meaning making” (p. 990) and multiliteracies, pedagogy that integrates “situated practice, overt instruction, critical framing, and transformed practice” (New London Group, 1996, p. 83), they view the former as the foundation for the latter. Next, they describe two multimodal assignments Yi introduced to her teacher education courses. The first involved her preservice and inservice teachers creating multimodal final presentations for an SLA course, based on the principle that teachers need to be able to use these techniques themselves before they will be able to use them productively with their students. The second required her students to create 5 minute digital stories to use as instructional materials alongside lesson plans they had designed for their students. The challenges in using these types of assignments in teacher education classes were threefold. First, multimodal representations are often seen as less legitimate ways of knowing, especially in academic contexts, where unimodal print-based learning dominates. Second, designing rubrics that accounted for both the teachers’ content knowledge and their multimodal project design was an issue. Finally, there was resistance and skepticism from the teachers themselves. Concerns about their own technical and content skills, lack of resources or time, and the need to prepare students for traditional tests are likely to be factors that influence teachers’ perceptions of multimodal learning. To counter these issues, Yi and Angay-Crowder encourage us to reconceptualize multimodal practices as relevant for all students, not just high or low achievers, and as legitimate as more traditional text-based methods. They also recognize the need to create assessments that match the teaching practices and allow students to represent their achievement multimodally. By reflecting on the widespread multimodality of our everyday literacy practices, and experimenting with multimodality within teacher education classes so that we can directly experience the process of designing and creating multimodal texts, they believe we can address the fundamental issues underlying the underuse of multimodality in TESOL teacher education.

One thing that really stood out to me was their suggestion to teach the metalanguage of multimodal texts, and to allow students opportunities to explain their design choices. When I was in graduate school, a friend of mine did a presentation on how we could be better integrate multimodality into our “teaching the four skills” class, which she encouraged us to reconceptualize as “six skills,” including both receptive and productive multimodal skills alongside reading, writing, speaking and listening. One of the things I remember most from her presentation was the way she demonstrated the meaning inherent in visual choices and how students can be taught to process those choices the same way they would another mode of communication. Perhaps if I was to do something like this with teachers I was training, I would ask for a short reflection alongside the final project, where they could highlight some of their choices. I also think the “teacher first” principle will be a useful one for me to keep in mind going forward, to make sure my teachers are able to use these new communicative modes before they expect their students to, especially in the less-digital contexts in which I work. Although, it is worth noting that multimodality is more than just digital, which was a misperception of mine when I first encountered the term. I’d be interested in ways to more explicitly integrate non-digital multimodality into teacher training as well, particularly movement.

Yi, Y. & Angay-Crowder, T. (2016). Multimodal pedagogies for teacher education in TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 50(4), 988-998.

Reader Response Journal

English for Specific Purposes: Negotiating Needs, Possibilities and Promises by Salas, Mercado, Ouedraogo and Musetti

This article draws on the four authors’ varied experiences teaching English for Specific Purposes,  to provide a basic overview of the types of things instructors need to take into consideration when designing and teaching an ESP course. They stress that there are many different types of ESP, which they see as being on a spectrum, with individually tailored courses that are designed to meet the students’ specific communicative needs in line with their professional objectives on one end, and courses that offer basic communication instruction with a bit of specific vocabulary or thematically chosen readings on the other. In designing ESP courses, they encourage instructors to do research into the exact types of communicative tasks their students will be expected to perform in their professional environments, and to tailor the course to those objectives. The suggest the RAFT framework, to analyze the role, audience, format and topic for these interactions. Identifying these, in the context of the students’ needed language tasks and probable interactions, is the first step to ESP course design. Next, they explore methods of instruction, arguing that ESP teachers should mix and match the methods that best fit their contexts and that these methods should be chosen strategically and purposefully to help their students achieve the identified goals. They stress the importance of having concrete goals and deliverables so that students feel they are making progress. They also encourage teachers to adapt materials and utilize the internet, especially for self-study resources and practice. Next, they explore needs analysis in more depth, encouraging teachers to ensure that they have enough time to proper assess students’ needs before undertaking a course, although they acknowledge that there are often logistical limitations on the amount and depth of needs analysis a teacher can realistically do. They encourage teachers to work in teams and stages to collect and analyze the material they need to design a new course, and they encourage teachers to be upfront with their employers about how long this takes to do well. They also focus on the importance of authentic assessments, in line with the students’ actual professional tasks, and encourage backward planning off of the types of final assessments that show students abilities to communicate realistically in their workplaces. They conclude by encouraging student participation in the needs analysis process and by encouraging teachers to be upfront with their students about the level of individual tailoring and specificity they can expect from the course.

I enjoyed this article as a basic refresher/overview of ESP. I’ve taught ESP in the past, in a context where the expectations of the school were, for the most part, more on the English for Basic Communicative Purposes side of things. Next fall, I’ll be teaching ESP again, and I’m hoping in this new context I’ll be in a better position to carry out a full needs analysis, and to focus on more authentic tasks in my classes. This article served as a good reminder of the type of things to think about when starting out in ESP.

Salas, S., Mercado, L. A., Ouedraogo, L. H. & Musetti, B. (2013). English for specific purposes: Negotiating needs, possibilities and promises. English Teaching Forum, 51(4), 12-19.

Professional Update

June 2017 Social Responsibility Interest Section Newsletter

My first issue as editor of TESOL’s Social Responsibility Interest Section Newsletter, TESOLers for Social Responsibility, was published today! You can check it out here.

I’m really proud of the work that my co-editor, Anasasia Khawaja, and I did to put this together. The SRIS newsletter hadn’t been published for a while, so we had to start from scratch to get it up and running again. It’s great being able to collaborate with other TESOLers doing important work, and I love that as an editor, I get to draw attention to areas that I think are important and build a conversation. This is particularly important during the current political climate, where many of us feel alone and helpless as we watch awful development after awful development come out of Washington. Anastasia and I remarked to each other several times about how powerful it was to be working on this, to feel like we’re contributing to the betterment of the world.

This issue has four articles, on text selection for diverse students, race and linguicism (my article!), creating inclusive classrooms for LGBTQIA students and a skype tutoring program for women in Afghanistan and Nepal. This is the post-convention issue, so all of the articles relate to the 2017 TESOL convention in Seattle. The first two are reflections, which use Sherman Alexie’s keynote and Shannon Tanghe’s session on linguicism as starting points to discuss larger issues. The second two are written by presenters, summarizing their own sessions. Overall, I think they cover a broad range of issues and really highlight the diversity within the interest section.

It was also really interesting to write my own article for the newsletter. It’s called Addressing Linguicism and its Racial Implications in the Age of Nationalism, and it covers my response to a session I attended called Addressing Linguicism: A Classroom Simulation Activity presented by Shannon Tanghe, last year’s TESOL Teacher of the Year. I think linguicism is an absolutely crucial issue, but it’s often overlooked in favor of other -isms, particularly those that people feel aren’t under people’s own control. While, yes, you can learn new languages, linguistic prejudice is often directed at people on the basis of their non-native status, which absolutely is not something under personal control. In addition, linguicism is often used as a more socially acceptable cover for racism. While Tanghe didn’t focus on the racial implications of linguicism, for me, they are absolutely central to how I think about both linguicism and race within TESOL. So my article describes her simulation activity and the ways it led me to reconsider my own teaching practice, as well as the connections between race- and language-based discrimination. I also offer some suggestions for both classroom teachers and teacher educators on incorporating activities that raise awareness of linguicism and its racial implications for their students. If you read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to email me or leave a comment here.

Next issue’s theme is Identity, Inclusion and Advocacy, so if you’ve got something to say on those issues, check out our call for submissions and get in touch! Submissions are due August 1, 2017.