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.

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