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Sparking Conversations About Race and Equity with English Learners

About This Session


English learners with basic conversational skills are often eager to learn about racism, equity, and justice. This interactive workshop will provide teachers with tools to successfully introduce these topics in their classes.

What we'll cover:

The English class presents a unique opportunity to hold powerful conversations that widen perspectives and form deep and lasting connections. English learners with basic conversational skills are often hungry to discuss and learn about equity and justice, and eager to share their experiences around race and racism while hearing the experiences of others. However, few opportunities exist to explore these topics in safe, structured settings; and few English teachers have the tools and confidence to consistently explore these difficult topics in their classes.

This workshop will provide teachers with tools and ideas to integrate critical conversations about race, equity, and justice in their adult English classes. We will discuss how to set the stage to have these conversations in a safe way; how to prepare participants to demonstrate cultural humility; different structures that can be used to encourage student participation in virtual and in-person formats; and specific topics and prompts that lead to important, meaningful discussions.

The presenter will also share about how to gain access to free materials to facilitate these types of conversations with pre-GED students and English learners who are ready to transition to ABE studies.

Participants will gain information on how to start integrating conversations about race and equity into their classes, as separate community conversations, or as the topic of content for a course for pre-GED/ABE studies. These conversations help learners and teachers in four ways:

  1. Learners increase their language acquisition because the topic of race and equity is an area of high interest. High-interest topics lead to faster acquisition of English. These conversations provide opportunities to increase vocabulary knowledge and important language nuances, e.g., the difference between using inclusive language like people of color and not colored people.
  2. Teachers can learn from the students’ perspectives and lived experiences around issues of racism. This helps shift any power imbalance in the classroom by making learning mutual and two-way, not just teacher-to-student unilateral knowledge transmission.
  3. Students will learn about important historical and present-day racism against many groups. They are often unaware of the systemic and legal realms of racism that impact people of color. When they gain this knowledge, they gain power to defend themselves from history repeating itself.
  4. These conversations equip participants with the tools to become more anti-racist. This impacts their ability to communicate and connect across races and cultures.
Bates, Karin

Presenter: Karin Bates
Organization: Intercambio Uniting Communities

Visit Intercambio in the conference exhibitor area!

ROLE classroom instructors
LEVEL intermediate
Case study?

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