On this page you will find the articles and teaching manuals I’ve published, as well as my master’s thesis. You can also find my writing on ResearchGate, Academia.edu, and Google Scholar.
Drama for Social Justice: Embodying Identity and Emotion in ELT
In this thesis, the author makes the case that drama is a powerful tool for language acquisition because it develops and engages embodiment, emotion and identity, important aspects of learning and communication that are often neglected in traditional language classrooms. The thesis establishes a theoretical foundation for the use of drama in the social justice-oriented language classroom, reviews research on drama for language learning and describes common drama techniques. The author connects the theories of embodied cognition and multiliteracies to an intersectional model of identity and argues that drama helps students re-examine the way society positions them based on their embodied identities. The impact of emotions on language learning and the ways students’ emotional experiences are influenced by language and culture are analyzed, with the conclusion that drama can be an effective tool to increase students’ emotional intelligence. The author situates second language identity formation within a narrative identity development framework and proposes identity texts as a form of counter-storytelling. These texts contribute to the creation of a more just society by challenging dominant discourses and encouraging students to envision a wider range of possibilities for their future selves. The thesis concludes with a framework for implementing drama in the language classroom, which contains suggestions for creating a socially responsible drama class as well as a progression of activities that teachers can use with their own students.
Master’s thesis, available online.
Music, Movement and Memory: Pedagogical Songs as Mnemonic Aids
This article proposes a theoretical foundation and practical strategies for incorporating pedagogical songs and corresponding gestures into the language classroom. Music and movement are connected to verbal memory, which is a key component of language learning. Music and language are processed in the same areas of the brain, and recent empirical studies conducted with pre-K-12 learners around the world have found a range of benefits when music is integrated into language classrooms. In addition, neuroscientific research has found that presenting text through music can lead to increased recall. Verbal recall can be further enhanced by the incorporation of gesture. Pedagogical songs—created for classroom use and designed to target specific linguistic items—can harness the memory benefits of music for language learning. When teachers create these songs themselves, they can have full control over the songs’ linguistic content. This article outlines three approaches to the creation of pedagogical songs with accompanying examples, so teachers can create lyrics that fit the content they are teaching. Research-based strategies for incorporating gestures and teaching songs are also presented.
Published in TESOL Journal, 9(4), abstract available online.
Girls’ Voices in Community Action Theatre in Tanzania
Community Action Theatre is a collaborative approach to play creation designed to elicit behavior change around local issues. This essay outlines the ways in which female students at a rural secondary school in Tanzania used the platform provided by a Community Action Theatre project to focus awareness on the issue of early marriage and its intersections with HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, infant mortality and educational attainment. The students presented two plays, one for the wider community and the other for their peers. By presenting highly stigmatized and tragic consequences of the problem and tailoring the content of each play to highlight the aspects those in the audience would be able to address, the students demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of the ways theatre can be used to raise awareness and inspire change.
Published in Continuum: The Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance, 3(2), available online.
My Classroom: Tanzania
Catherine Njau is an English teacher at Mboni Secondary School in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. This profile describes the context she teaches in, the techniques she uses to engage her students and her path to becoming a teacher. It also features her community work from building a library to give her students independent access to educational resources, to teaching life skills and providing girls the supplies they need to attend school during their periods. It ends with Njau’s call for other teachers to invest in English and have the spirit of volunteering.
Published in English Teaching Forum, 56(4), available online.
Addressing Linguicism and its Racial Implications in the Age of Nationalism
How do your students experience linguicism and racism in the current political climate, and what is your responsibility as teacher when it comes to addressing these issues? In this article, Werner reflects on her experiences during a linguicism simulation exercise at the TESOL convention, discusses the racial implications of language-based discrimination, and provides suggestions for classroom activities that raise awareness of linguicism and its racial connotations.
Published in TESOLers for Social Responsibility, available online.
Black Spaces and White Norms: The Importance of BELPaF for the TESOL Community
The Black English Language Professionals and Friends (BELPaF) annual meeting creates a space for Black TESOLers to have a respite from the White norms that prevail at the annual TESOL Convention. This article outlines the history and work of BELPaF, situates it within the context of TESOL’s core values, and calls for continued support of this important group.
Published in TESOLers for Social Responsibility, available online.
English Manual for Peace Corps Volunteers: Practical Advice for Teaching in Tanzania
This manual is distributed to all English Education volunteers in Peace Corps Tanzania. From the introduction:
We have tried to make this book a teacher-friendly resource, based on our experiences teaching English in Tanzanian secondary schools. We hope this book will assist you in planning effective and engaging lessons for your students.
The book has been divided into sections to make it easy to find the information you’re looking for. Chapter 2 begins with an overview of English grammar, with explanations, terminology and examples. It concludes with ideas on how to teach grammar to your students. Chapter 3 covers vocabulary, again focusing on methods of teaching it to your students. Chapters 4-7 are an overview of the four skills of English (listening, speaking, reading and writing) with ideas on planning skills lesson and encouraging skills development. Chapter 8 focuses on creating teaching units, combining grammar, vocabulary and skills practice to fit the topics in the Tanzanian syllabus. Chapters 9-12 provide resources for you to use in planning your lessons. Chapter 9 covers teaching activities, with instructions and suggestions on the level and topics each activity could be used for. Chapter 10 list example grammar exercises, divided into sections based on what the grammar points they target. Chapter 11 provides examples of lesson plans created by Peace Corps and VSO Volunteers here in Tanzania and Chapter 12 is a guide to the reference materials used to create this book and their availability in country.