• Peter

Inclusion and diversity in ELT - continuation

Inclusion matters: image from https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/about-us/news/articles/2020/9/28/ljmu-marks-national-inclusion-week-(2020)

I'm continuing this mini-series of blog posts by not specifying which aspect of inclusion and diversity in ELT I'm going to focus on. I found it rather limiting, and by not sticking to one particular aspect, I can possibly cover a wider range of sources and materials for people to digest, enjoy and take action. I will reiterate what I've said before in previous posts; this is not an exhaustive list. It is something that is evolving for me personally as I navigate my way through what is a relatively new perspective for me. I'm sharing what I find useful and what has caught my eye. There are many, many more sources out there – far more than I can post on a blog post in one sitting. However, if you feel there is something that might interest me, please do contact me and I'll consider it. The Inclusion and Diversity in ELT Resource List, which I hope to be working on with a collaborator, is something that will take time, and will include more sources than I'm able to put on my blog.

I was really impressed with Sandy Millin's blog post about links on racism in ELT. I'm not going to retell everything in her post, but suggest you check it out instead. However, there are two links in her blog which I found really interesting.

Women of Color in ELT looks like a fantastic place to start. WOC in ELT has numerous goals, including but not limited to:

- To provide an environment by, for, and about Women of Color in ELT that promotes justice, equity and professional liberation and development.

- To spotlight overshadowed racial disparity in ELT.

The website has a wealth of resources, including for ELT Organisations and Initiatives, such as #ELTSoWhite. But, one of the sources which has really resonated with me, and one in which I will learn from (because, come on, we're all learning) is 100 Ways White People Can Make Life Less Frustrating For People of Color. Read it. Some of it will make complete sense, others may surprise you. Could also work as an adaptation to a lesson, perhaps?

The other point from Sandy's post comes from MaWSIG and a panel webinar called Making materials that reflect the realities of marginalised groups. The brief summaries look at three marginalised groups in ELT materials - older adults, LGBTQ+ and learners who identify as being of colour.

Also from MaWSIG, there was a Global Get-together held in April, which I'm really annoyed I missed - however, if you're an IATEFL member, you can watch the panel discussion. MaWSIG have helpfully shared some of the speakers' answers in response to the Q&A session here.

The next source I want to highlight is one that you may want to take your time with. Pride In Education and Schools OUT UK organised a live virtual conference this month, and very helpfully, it's been added to the internet. This particular video is over three hours long, so I'd suggest getting comfy with a notebook and a cuppa. Around 2 hours and 44, the speakers discuss an example of LGBTQI+ identities in the classroom. Key experts in the area speak, discussing various aspects and so is well worth a watch.

Silva Education is doing some exceptional work on creating more identifiable characters for young learners around the world. Particularly impressive here is their Arabia Readers series.

The last thought I will leave you with is one that was brought up by one of my colleagues on the Foundations to Inclusion course run by Beth Cox and that is tackling fatphobia. Most of the representations I see in ELT materials are that larger people are portrayed as unhealthy, sweaty and gasping, and often compared to a thin person, and I was wondering if there were any materials out there that addressed this? I've seen one, non-ELT book for children called Don't Call Me Fat! which certainly has the best intentions, but this is just putting the idea that being this way is different, whereas we're all human. By specifying and singling out one particular feature of a person, we aren't 'usualising' (thanks Laila) it - by pointing out our differences or focusing on them, it makes them stand out, so we need to find a way to integrate all features of people so that they are not necessarily a feature to be the main focus, but is just one aspect of their being - 'usualising' what has been seen as different.

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Peter J Fullagar. Reading, UK.


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