Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head
Excited to make this announcement on International Women’s Day. Claire Venables and Ilá Coimbra of BrazTESOL’s new Voices Sig and I are co-running a pre-conference event called Celebrating Women in ELT: Reflect, Empower, Act at Innovate ELT in Barcelona on May 5. More info here. The main conference is on May 5-6 on the theme of Power to the Learner. There are even local scholarships available if you’re in the Catalunya region of Spain, closing date April 9.
I was planning mainly to organise the event, only doing a short intro talk, but one of the sessions we most wanted to run, the “Herstory” of ELT as told via the women who’ve shaped the industry, is turning out to be extremely research intensive, ambitious and, as far as I can tell, unique. More on what sparked the idea behind it here. The women I was thinking of inviting to speak probably wisely saw that it was way too much work and had to turn it down. So … I’m doing it. It probably needs a year of research and I’ve got about two months left but with loads of great leads so far thanks to the crowd-sourcing potential of the internet. Feel free to make any suggestions in the comments below!
Other news on women’s stuff. The Women in ELT Facebook group stands at about 650 members to date and voted overwhelmingly at the end of January to stay women only for now. I’m currently working on making the guidelines and language as inclusive as possible and we’re in early talks about projects the group could be the launching point for. The Celebrating Women in ELT PCE is very much a toe in the water, with only 12 places available, to see if there’s interest in online or larger face-to-face events.
I did an article for OneStop English earlier in the year for their Challenges in ELT series, followed up by a podcast with a bit more on the topic of Women in ELT, and a little about materials writing with just a tad of scandal dropped in.
Have you seen that viral video of children being asked to draw a firefighter, a surgeon or a pilot? Sixty-six of the drawings depict men; only five show women. The children are no older than eight, but I bet if you took that exercise out of the primary school classroom and asked a conference hall of ELT professionals to draw a plenary speaker, the results would be similar. And that’s despite the fact that at least 60% of that audience is probably women.
To read the full article, go here.
I also have an article out on the TaWSIG blog which is a bit more controversial, based on recent experiences with the way conversations about women can be derailed into ones about men. Comments still piling up as we speak!
If you start a conversation about women in ELT, you seem to end up talking about men pretty quickly. How they might be feeling at being excluded, how they too suffer from sexism by having to wear uncomfortable smart shoes, how they, in fact, are sure sexism does not exist in ELT since they’ve never seen any.
The title of this post might be “Let’s talk about …” but, in the case of gender bias and sexism in ELT, I’m beginning to wonder if sometimes, for some people, maybe it’s not time to talk, but time to shut up and listen instead.
To read the full article, go here.
And, finally, and hardest to share because I am quite happy to share writing but find it less easy with …. eeek …video, I was asked by a former colleague, Joe Bardon, now at British Council Tokyo to record an interview for their Diversity Week about the issue of Women in ELT.
Session 1: Introduction to the day
Session 2: The herstory of ELT
Session 3: How gender affects the ELT classroom A look at how gender affects the ELT classroom. Who gets to speak and how much? How are the genders represented in the materials we use?
Speaker: Ilá Coimbra
Session 4: 60% ready, set, go! A workshop to help you focus on what you really want and why in your career, with practical steps and strategies to get into the right mindset and avoid the mind traps that derail us.
Speaker: Claire Venables
Session 5: Discussion Open discussion about issues related to themes and session of the event.