Active Allyship in ELT – Video and event notes available!

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Free online workshop for JALT and non-JALT members

active allyship in ELT poster

While awareness of social justice issues is an important step toward equity for all, being an active ally means working towards building safer classrooms and workplaces, particularly for those in positions of power or privilege. The GALE SIG is planning a one day workshop in which presenters will share strategies on how to be an effective ally to both students and colleagues. Presentations may focus on how to teach allyship to students or how to be an active ally at work or in the classroom. During the presentations, a document of the discussed strategies will be compiled, which educators can immediately use in their own contexts. The event will take place on Sunday, April 17 on zoom from 1 pm to 5 pm.

Discussions will not be recorded, although presentations may be recorded at the discretion of each speaker.

13:00-13:50 May Kyaw Oo (Nagasaki University): Responding to Microaggressions and Racial Bias in ELT Workplaces

In many English language teaching (ELT) contexts, people of color and people who do not come from native English-speaking countries can be the target of implicit biases, microaggressions, and at times even overt discrimination. Colleagues may fail to recognize these implicit biases and microaggressions as they occur. Other times, colleagues may notice these biases but may not know how to respond to the situation in a way which could help their marginalized colleagues. The objective of this workshop is to raise awareness of privileged and marginalized identities in the ELT workplace and collaborate on thinking of effective action to become active allies rather than bystanders, thereby empowering ourselves and others.

14:00-14:50 Yuzuko Nagashima (Yokohama City University) and Luke Lawrence (Toyo University): Becoming an LGBTQ+ ally in the Japanese university

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Although ostensibly a free and open society, Japan is often seen to be lagging behind in terms of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer+ (LGBTQ+) rights and understanding of LGBTQ+ issues. This lack of understanding leads to a high degree of invisibility and marginalization for LGBTQ+ students and faculty, and the perpetuation of heteronormativity. In this workshop, we will first introduce the main ideas behind queer pedagogy and what it means to be an ally in this context. We will then share some examples of explicit and implicit activities and approaches that we have used and invite participants to share their own experiences and suggestions for introducing queer pedagogy into language classrooms and workplaces. We will finish by initiating a discussion of what it means to be an ally and suggest ways that the field of allyship can move forward in the future.

15:00-15:50 Katrina Persons-Nishi (Keira College, student): Observations & Experiences of a College Student: Awareness in Diversity

The experience of a teacher and a student differs when it comes to teaching and learning, especially in an accessibility context. Being a native English speaker and fluent Japanese speaker has allowed me to experience Japanese-based English classes from a broader perspective as the curriculum or information of my classes was something I had already acquired.  I would like to present some of the obstacles, difficulties and problems students and myself have faced but were unable to communicate to teachers. Discussion about issues they have in their English classes often pertain most to a lack of awareness in student’s diversity. These issues can often be solved with many small but effective adjustments that can be made in the classroom, in order to provide students with more opportunities to learn in a way that is both accessible and inclusive.

16:00-16:50 Gerry Yokota: Allies and Accomplices: An Intersectional Approach

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I propose that making intersectionality a core component of all university-level English language courses, whether working with a commercial textbook or using authentic materials, is the most effective way to teach allyship to students. I further propose that promoting an understanding of intersectionality in our workplaces and professional associations, at all educational levels, enhances everyone’s professional development and well-being, whatever your field of specialization. In this talk, I will give concrete suggestions on how to accomplish this, based on my own experience dating back to the nineties. Example of teaching allyship to students will include games, popular culture such as music and movies, and storytelling and self-disclosure. Examples of practicing allyship with colleagues will include reflective partnership, hiring practices, and faculty/professional development.

Bio: Gerry Yokota started her full-time teaching career in the School of Language and Culture at Osaka University in 1988 and semi-retired in March 2020. She continues to teach part-time in the International College there, and at Kansai University and Ritsumeikan University. Building on her experience as chair of her university’s sexual harassment committee and director of the harassment counseling office, she has also served on the JALT Code of Conduct Committee and is currently a member of the JALT DEI Committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She also serves on the executive board of the GALE SIG.