On October 23, 2020, teachers from Ontario and other provinces gathered on Twitter to discuss representation in ELT (English Language Teaching). This #teslONchat was a joint event with the popular #CdnELTchat. The hour-long chat was guest moderated by Tyson Seburn (@seburnt) while Vanessa Nino (@vnino23) kept the questions coming, and Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta), and Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) from the #CdnELTchat team welcomed participants and kept the conversation flowing.
Tyson Seburn is an EAP instructor and Assistant Academic Director of International Programs at New College, University of Toronto. He holds an MA Educational Technology & TESOL from the University of Manchester. His main interest focuses on identity and its various impacts on teacher development. He is currently also exploring inclusive and critical pedagogy and their applications to language teaching contexts. He writes about these interests in an EAP discussion group, #tleap (bit.do/tleap); his blog, 4CinELT (fourc.ca); and through his role as Coordinator of the IATEFL Teacher Development Special Interest Group committee (tdsig.org). He is the author of Academic Reading Circles (The Round, 2015).
1. What does it mean to be representative in relation to inclusion in ELT?
2. How does a lack of representation affect our classes?
3. What adaptations to our teaching or materials can we practically implement to improve inclusion?
4. How do we support our reluctant colleagues, directors, or institutions towards these changes?
5. Do you recommend any further resources?
With Tyson’s input and Vanessa’s question posts, the chat was lively and the hour flew by. We’ve collected the tweets using Wakelet, Representation in #ELT. You can also see the tweets by searching for the hashtags #teslONchat and #CdnELTchat on Twitter.
Tyson started off the discussion by suggesting that representation in ELT means “including authentic narratives from a wide variety of marginalised or under included individuals, which both represents the make-up of our societies, and affords our learners to identify and connect with those who are like them and who are not.” Others suggested that students need to see themselves in our materials, and that we need to take care not to misrepresent or erase groups and identities in our teaching resources. Not having representation can create a divide in our classes.
We need to look at whose voices we are amplifying in our curriculum, materials, and resources, and whose voices are not being heard. With this in mind, we also need to explore how and which LGBTQIA2 narratives we are representing and how authentic and individual these stories and contexts are being framed in our materials. Can we be more realistic and varied? Tyson also reiterated that representation and inclusivity requires not just inclusive materials but ongoing teacher training, institutional support as well as a willingness to examine our own roles.
Resources Shared During & After the Chat
These are some examples of authentic resources shared by Tyson and others.
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Danger of a Single Story (TED Talk)
- The Vancouver Sun, Canadian citizenship study guide should tell the truth about racism
- City News, ‘No limitations”: Indigenous transgender storyteller Kiley May shapes her life as a kaleidoscope.
- BBC, Muslim Pride
- The Star, Front-line health-care workers speak up about racism at work, from questioning credentials to being seen as ‘just the help’
- Independent, Trans people aren’t ‘erasing’ lesbians like me – Ill fight for equality standing side-by-side with them
- BBC, ‘Playing rugby helped me accept being gay’
- Raise Up! A Diverse and Inclusive View of English Language Teaching
- The website StoryCorps provides genuine stories from real people from all walks of life.
- They, them, their — why some people use these pronouns instead of he or she from CBC Kids
- Super Queeroes from CBC Arts
- The Daily Xtra is good source of LGBTQIA narratives
- Check out the summary from #CdnELTchat’s November 19, 2019 chat. The summary includes great resources and will provide some prompts for reflective thinking about representation.
- Further reading & resources provided by Tyson
Tyson also extended an invitation to a TDSIG Web Carnival, Race and Queerness in ELT.
Web articles that discuss the importance of Representation
- Why Representation Matters by Laura Thomas from Edutopia.
- #Isawmyself: Why Educator Representation Matters by Elizabeth Tuten from Communities in Schools.
- Why On-Screen Representation Matters, According To These Teens from PBS News Hour
- The Loop: Why Representation Matters (podcast episode) from CBC
Join the conversation with #teslONchat!
#teslONchat will be hosted on Twitter once a month. If you’re interested in sharing your passion or expertise in a specific topic please reach out to us on Twitter, @TESLOntario.
Join us on November 20, 2020 at 7pm ET to discuss ELT Resources with Diane Ramanathan, @ram_diane.
Join the conversation with #CdnELTchat!
The #CdnELTchat team has been hosting regular Twitter chats since 2015, on a wide range of topics relevant to the ELT community. Look for the #CdnELTchat hashtag on Twitter; we announce the chat topics a week or so in advance and everyone is welcome to join the chats either synchronously or asynchronously. Are you passionate about a particular topic in ELT? Let us know and we will support you in co-moderating a chat!
This summary post was written by Vanessa Nino, manager of TESL Ontario’s Twitter, and Bonnie Nicholas, team member with #CdnELTchat. Find Vanessa tweeting over @vnino23 and Bonnie @BonnieJNicholas. Tyson provided a brief biography.