A holiday break for me tends to come with a mixture of unwinding from a demanding term, but also an opportunity to reflect on ELT issues over the past year that have come up. Some of these I’ve just pushed off because of lack of time or desire to bother getting involved in. Others I’ve partly joined a discussion but just gave up because of discourse involved (sometimes platform on which the discussion started). Still there are others that I’ve thought and written about fairly extensively, but begin to reevaluate my position on. These are some thoughts/questions swirling in my head:

  1. Is copyright when sharing resources with other teachers a primary concern?
  2. Do I read past the bold and dig into the content before I share?
  3. Should knowledge be completely open access for everyone?
  4. Do I adequately support those who fight for better conditions?
  5. How effectively do I encourage diversity and representation?
  6. Do I interact in discussion online appropriately and fairly?
  7. What are my new professional and personal goals?

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One grammar point that comes up again and again in academic writing class is the misuse and overuse of dependent clauses. My students commonly include sentence fragments, forget dependent words i.e. relative pronouns, or attempt overly complex sentences with clause upon clause upon clause. While at higher levels, they know grammatical principles on how to construct them, their application of these principles dissolve in their own writing.

I find it’s valuable to rediscover types of dependent clause construction (and deconstruction) among the class, but it’s also more meaningful when not appearing as its own lesson, but when it stems out of a broader purpose and set of materials. I prefer to break these up into smaller chunks and integrate them into something else I’m doing with the students.

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Earlier this month I gave a talk entitled The ongoing struggle for LGBTQ inclusivity in ELT at a local conference. I talked about the absence of LGBTQ community in ELT course materials, portrayal when included, reasons and attitudes that contribute to both, and examples of some widely-available resources. The goal was to raise awareness of these areas, and consider how materials design can in some cases unintentionally exclude LGBTQ+ members of the classroom. The premise to the talk included the assumption that those attending were:

  • interested in fostering an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ community in the classroom;
  • unsure if materials they used in class that included (or not) LGBTQ+ community did so or not; and/or
  • unfamiliar with how to go about creating this inclusivity.

One participant at this talk asked me something along these lines: Isn’t discussing gay marriage (or I suppose any of these things) a valid debate to have with students from countries where everything LGBTQ is illegal? Shouldn’t we allow them to discuss their ideas in the safe environment of the language learning classroom?

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