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Oregon Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

Experience at TESOL 2023 by Jennifer Slinkard

16 Jun 2023 7:58 AM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

Experience at TESOL 2023 by Jennifer Slinkard

I had a wonderful time at TESOL in Portland this year! I attended so many good sessions, but one that stands out to me was the first one I went to: Building Antiracism and Linguistic Justice in the Cross-cultural Composition Classroom, with Madeline Crozier and Tanita Saenkhum from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. The session was a report on how they had included the "Toward Antiracist First-Year Composition Goals" Statement into their cross-cultural first year composition courses. They first elicited definitions of anti-racist pedagogy from the attendees and encouraged us to discuss them in groups. Then, they presented a framework to include in our own anti-racist curriculum development. Some questions they encourage us to consider were: 1) Where do your rhetorical concepts come from (e.g., are they only Western)? and How is time for languaging accounted for in the classroom (e.g., do you include the extra time it takes for students using English as an additional language in your estimation of student work hours)? They recommended Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Volume 4 as a text to draw from. The essays included in this text are Creative Commons licensed and include essays on linguistic diversity, grading criteria, racial literacy, and more. They also recommended that teachers adopt a habit of reflective self-assessment, so that we are regularly checking in with ourselves through the lens of antiracist pedagogy. During the session, I asked a question on how to adopt their ideas into a cross-cultural classroom that was still predominantly white. At my past institution in Arizona, I felt more comfortable making linguistic diversity the topic of my first-year composition classroom, but since moving to Eastern Oregon, I've wondered if it was the best for my mostly-white, rural students. They pointed me to Amy Walker's YouTube channel, which has fun videos on different accents. These videos might be used to talk with students about the stigma associated with specific kinds of speech. It was just one wonderful session of many, and I am so grateful to ORTESOL for providing funding for me to attend the conference.


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