Language Brown Bag: Inclusive Teaching in the Second Language Classroom

How do we as language instructors create an inclusive environment in our diverse classrooms? What aspects of cultural content or classroom dynamics challenge this effort? What support it?

These were the questions that opened our recent brown bag discussion on Inclusive Teaching in the Second Language Classroom, attended by 20 or so language instructors, both new and seasoned. As the conversation continued, instructors shared their questions, experiences, and ideas on a wide range of potentially-challenging classroom scenarios and topics, such as:

  • Addressing a student who prefers gender non-specific pronouns when similar use of such pronouns does not exist in the target language,
  • Responding to unexpected student reactions to a classmate’s difficult disclosure or self narrative, 
  • Mediating heated in-class conflict relating to the recent campus conversations on diversity and inclusion, and more.

Diversity and inclusion are vast and dynamic topics that have been and will continue to be part of the ongoing conversation within the language teaching community. To help continue the discussion, we invite each of you — both attendees and those inspired by the questions posed above — to share your thoughts, further questions, challenging scenarios, and relevant book and journal references in a reply to this blog post. [And of course, we’re always happy to meet individually to talk about these and other issues related to teaching and learning languages at Yale.]

Thanks to all who came out for this important discussion.


Our upcoming Brown Bag will continue this topic with a journal club session to discuss Claire Kramsch’s article entitled “The Language Teacher as Go-between.” We hope to build on last week’s conversation about the roles language teachers play between cultures (their own and their students’, the local and the target culture, etc.) and to explore some new ground. Please join us for what promises to be an interesting discussion on Thursday, February 18th, 2015, from 12:30-1:30 in the CLS library. Please RSVP to Suzanne, who can provide a copy of the article as well. Hope to see you there!

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