Job Hunting in Japan as a “Non-native” WOC in ELT

Job Hunting

I defended my PhD and graduated in March, 2019. Such a stressful month. Why? Because my student visa was valid till April 2nd, 2019, and I had to change my visa status to be able to continue working in Japan (Application for Change of Status of Residence).

As a student in Japan you can work up to 28 hours a week. You need to apply for “Permission to Engage in Activity other than that Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted,” which is technically a work permit. The application process is pretty straightforward and you just need to fill out a form. That is why I could legally start working part-time at several universities and at an English conversation school (eikaiwa) in Kansai area from 2017.

I am planning to blog about my experiences as a PhD student in Applied Linguistics at Osaka University, Graduate School of Language and Culture. I preferred to write about my job-hunting experiences first because most of the tips I was given or found were not really helpful. I do not think many folx will find my blogpost helpful, but the thing is this blogpost is for few English teachers who have a similar situation like mine to see I could, so can they.

If you see it, you can be it!

First, I would like to start with two confessions:

  1. I have never been turned down for a job in Japan because I am labeled as a “non-native” speaker. I have applied for jobs via email and have never heard back. I have applied for jobs and was not hired, but I have never been told that it is because I am a “non-native” speaker. Not in my face. Not yet.
  2. When I came to Japan, I was racially naive, unaware, and ignorant. For example, I thought white is a racial slur. I was a big fan of “Diversity” and “Inclusion” or mottoes like “We all belong to one human race” without critically thinking about them through a racial lens. So, I, as a WOC, maintained the status quo by being a white supremacy tool. Moreover, I used to overemphasize that I am not Arab, which I realized that it was a racist way to identify myself. Now, I am reading on race and I want to be an antiracist because as Ibram X. Kendi states, “You are either racist or antiracist. There is nothing in between.” I will blog about my racial awakening later. For now, I’d like to share another quote from How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

#WOCinELT

 

Finding ELT Positions in Japan

Networking

According to Johnson and Dillon (1996),

Connections (jinmyaku) are important in any culture but in many cases seem to be a necessity in Japan. The best positions are usually not advertised in journals or newspapers, rather they are acquired by word-of-mouth. Basically, the chances of getting a good job are directly proportional to the quality of your connections.

Paul Raine (2012) is also quite honest about finding university English teaching positions in Japan:

The most common and effective way of finding university English teaching positions in Japan is through the referrals of friends and acquaintances. Indeed, many universities never need to advertise positions, relying instead on a surprisingly close-knit network of their current employees, employees acquaintances, employee’s acquaintances’ friends and… you get the picture. If job searching for university English teaching positions in Japan could be summed up in three words, they would be: network, network, network.

Teaching English at Japanese universities is a very rewarding profession, and English teaching careers are available to those with the motivation and means to undertake the qualifications required. If you are a passionate educator with an inclination toward academic research, then teaching at Japanese universities will definitely provide you with a wealth of opportunities. But be prepared to change jobs frequently, and network extensively if you want to stay ahead of the game.

James McCrostie (2010) believes:

It is no longer enough to simply pay your JALT and JACET membership fees—you also have to get involved with meetings, conferences, editing journals and similar volunteer service. Getting involved also helps one to make connections. Knowing someone never hurts in the current atmosphere of brutal competition.

Something which is missing in these articles written by white male “native” speakers is the fact that the ELT network in Japan is either Japanese dominated or white, male, middle/upper class, “native” English speakers dominated, which makes the job hunting process for non-white, female, non-Japanese, working class “non-native” speakers very challenging.

You need to be Japanese or you need to have what Nelson Flores (2017) calls white qualifications to be able to connect and network. Moreover, networking gets really hard if you do not drink alcohol and are not part of the nominication—from nomu the verb for to drink and communication—culture here in Japan. You can read on nominication culture here.

If white “native” speakers are dealing with “brutal competition” in James McCrostie’s terms, non-white, non-Japanese, “non-native” English speakers are dealing with racism, and if you are a white “native” speaker and complain about racism in Japan, I highly recommend you to read this oldie but goodie: “racism” vs. racism

The sadder news is that lots of times the job ads even on portals like JREC-IN are for formality. The recruiters already know who they want to hire. To formalize the process, they advertise the position. Once I withdrew my job application because of this reason. I was approached by a participant at an ELT conference. They asked if I am interested in teaching part-time at their university. I said, yes. They then advertised the job position. They were so shocked why many folx were applying.

As I confessed, I was racially unaware when I came to Japan. If I could go back in time and give myself some advice on networking, this would be it:

1. Avoid predominantly white ELT organizations.

Why? 

They are not meant for you. You are constantly otherized, you have to deal with loads of microaggressions (euphemism for racism), and this can lead to racial trauma. Read on othering at http://conference.otheringandbelonging.org/

Exception

If a SIG or a group for Scholars/Teachers of Color exists within the organization (e.g., KOTESOL People of Color Teachers SIG), joining the organization to get involved in those spaces is not a bad idea.

2. Avoid predominantly Japanese ELT organizations.

Why?

Again, they are not meant for you. You still need to “fit in” and deal with loads of racism as racism is not just a white phenomenon.

3. Find networks that are meant for you.

Why?

Because you do not need to “fit in”. Fitting in is not belonging. Stick to SIETAR Japan and join a union.

4. Educate yourself on microaggressions and racial harassment, and learn how to respond to them. Check this out: https://womenofcolorinelt.wordpress.com/microaggressions/

5. Your circle of support can be small but very strong.

6. Remember: After all, you are alone on this journey.

“Native Speakers” Only Ads

You see many “native speakers” only ads even when you are looking for university English teaching positions in Japan (e.g., click here: “The Kyoto Sangyo University Common Education Center is looking for native English speakers”).

If you check TEFL Equity website, you will find information on how to tackle native speakerism in ELT. It is often recommended that highlight your strengths, apply, and do not be put off by the “native speakers” only ads.

I no longer find this way of tackling native speakerism empowering because it sounds like we are fixing “non-native” teachers instead of fixing injustice and inequity.

In Adrian Holiday’s terms, native speakerism is ELT’s neo-racism. In his blogpost, Sulaiman Jenkins (2018) writes: 

Ostensibly, ‘native speaker’ means someone who grew up in an English speaking country and has essentially spoken the language from birth, but in reality it has often been used synonymously with being a White speaker from an English speaking country.

The preference for “native” speakers in ELT, which too often means white “native” speakers, is the white supremacy in the ELT industry. So, in our equity efforts, we need to focus on eliminating racist conditions, not on fixing marginalized teachers. 

Another blogpost that I am planning to write is about equity vs equality and how these two terms are being used interchangeably leading to an illusion of equity in ELT. For now, I would like to share a quote by Paul Gorski (2019) based on his article, “Avoiding Racial Equity Detours”:

It is not about fixing marginalized people, it is about fixing the conditions that marginalize people.

I applied for a “native” speaker only job ad once and I will never do that again because if it is not meant for me, I do not want it. I do not want to work with folx who do not understand or do not want to understand how hurtful, painful, exclusionary their job ads are. If you get a job through a racist, discriminatory job ad, you will most probably work at a toxic workplace.

Tokenism

Recently, “non-native” speakers from any nationality are encouraged to apply especially for university ELT positions in Japan. To be honest, it feels good to see such job ads; however, I highly recommend you to be careful as these are part of “Diversity” and “Inclusion” efforts to “globalize”, “internationalize”, and “diversify” Japan, and chances are, you will experience tokenism. From a racial perspective, tokenism is the practice of using People of Color to create the appearance of “diversity”, and that is why tokenism is a form of racism. Here is a narrative that can shed light on this concept:

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Source: Click here

To get more familiar with the concept of tokenism, please refer to this post: 8 Ways People of Color are Tokenized in Nonprofits

You might ask, how can I make sure that I am not going to be a token hire? How can I avoid tokenism?

Ask questions! For example,

  • Is your university/school a safe place for Teachers of Color?
  • How do you deal with racial harassment?
  • Does your university pay “native” and “non-native” teachers equally?
  • Am I the only non-Japanese, “non-native” teacher at your department/school?
  • Why do you hire “non-native” teachers?

How I Found my ELT Jobs in Japan

Like many folx, I found all my ELT jobs in Japan through my connections, and they are all white and “native” speakers. It feels like I need to be approved by a “native” speaker. When I am introduced by a “native” speaker, I simply start working without even being interviewed.

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Source: Click here

My first university job experience started this way:

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Source: Click here

It was a semester of racial harassment and bullying, and you can check these two links to see how it ended:

My first ever university job experience in Japan was disappointing, but I learned that as a WOC (Woman of Color: a term I learned from a Pakistani American friend here in Japan. Check here to learn about the history of this political term), I need to protect myself. I learned that I should not apply for any job ad out there without knowing about the workplace. I started talking to few folx in my small yet strong circle of support about my challenges, and they helped me find safe workplaces.

Visa Application: Designated Activities or Professor Visa?

As I wrote at the beginning of this post, March 2019 was very stressful. It was time to apply for working visa in Japan.

The first thing that I did was to talk to some folx who are involved in JALT Job Information Center (JIC). They told me that they do not know about visa requirements because most of them are married to Japanese citizens and have Spouse Visa. They also acknowledged that there is some discrimination if you are from a certain country such as Iran. They suggested that I should go to the Immigration Bureau and talk to the immigration consultants there.

Next, I contacted the universities to ask about visa sponsorship. One university said, yes, we will provide it for you and the other one said, “our school would not be able to provide visa sponsorship for a part-time instructor.”

I then went to Support Office for International Students and Scholars, Osaka University many times. I also went to Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau twice (the immigration consultants there do not speak English) and asked which kind of visa I should apply. I brought all my documents and explained my situation:

  1. I will continue teaching part-time at Kobe City University of Foreign Studies (6 classes per week)
  2. I will start teaching part-time at the University of Hyogo (2 classes per week)
  3. I will continue teaching part-time at an eikaiwa (6-7 fifty minute classes per week)
  4. One of the universities will provide visa sponsorship and the other one does not.
  5. My boss at the eikaiwa is willing to fill out any necessary form.
  6. I have applied for a full time position at Baika Women’s University (got rejected), Kwansei University (still waiting for the result), and Konan University (still waiting for the result)

We checked List of Statuses of Residence together both at the Support Office and the Immigration Bureau and I was told that I need to apply for Designated Activities (特定活動) visa for the purpose of continuing job hunting in Japan and I need to wait till my graduation day (March 25th, 2019). The length of the initial Designated Activities Visa is 6 months and it can be renewed.

I started collecting all the documents and filling out the forms for Designated Activities visa. I included all the documents that proved that I am in the middle of my job hunting (e.g., rejection letters, emails). It was mid February, everything was ready, and I was just waiting for my graduation day. I have learned from experience that I need to double check everything. That is why I went to the Support Office again, and I was not sure how to answer a question on one of the the visa application forms. They called the Immigration Bureau to find the answer and they suddenly told me that I should apply for Professor (教授) visa because if I apply for Designated Activities visa, I cannot work as a part-time lecturer!!!

It was a big shock to me because I did not have much time and one of the universities had told me that they do not provide visa sponsorship.

Another source of stress was that “native” part-timers usually teach 20-25 university classes per week (I have no idea how they can do that) and I only had 8 university classes and 6-7 eikaiwa classes, which meant my monthly salary would be around 270,000 yen.

I tried to apply for more part-time positions that I happened to know about through personal Facebook pages of some of my friends and colleagues (this is a common way to advertise part-time ELT university positions!). In the meantime, I started preparing the documents for the Professor visa. I noticed that the sponsorship form looks more like confirming that this teacher has a one-year part-time contract at our university and her annual salary is XXX yen. So, I contacted the university that told me they do not provide visa sponsorship for part-timers and shared the file with them. They said they will fill it out for me!

Here is the link to the form (last page: For organization):

http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001290150.pdf

It is worth noting that this is the only question which is related to language education on the form and there is nothing about native speakerism:

Total period of receiving the foreign language education when you teach the foreign language

Also, unlike UK or Canadian visa forms, there is no question about your previous visa refusals or about your travel history. As Bathsheba Okwenje (2019) says,

There is the toll of a possible rejection – a rejection which will affect every subsequent visa application for the rest of your life, because whether you have previously been denied a visa is a specific question on applications. This rejection becomes yet another obstacle to overcome, another area for you to prove that you are indeed worthy of travel and of being in a country that is not your own.

If I am not mistaken, this kind of visa application is known as self-sponsorship among “native” teachers in Japan who need to apply for visa, but I never heard this from the immigration consultants at the Immigration Bureau or I never saw this on the visa application forms.

Visa-queue

Source: Click here

Finally, I applied for the Professor visa with only 8 university classes (2 on Tuesdays, 4 on Wednesdays, and 2 on Fridays) and 6-7 eikaiwa classes (on Wednesdays). I could not find more part-time university jobs. My application for Kwainsei University full-time position got rejected and I never heard back from Konan University (if you are a recruiter, please consider that some folx can show rejection letters as a proof of their job hunting). I paid only 4000 yen for the visa application, which is pretty cheap compared to UK or Canadian visa application fees. The immigration staff checked all my documents to make sure that everything is OK. In general, the application submission process went smoothly, and I was eventually granted the Professor visa. 

Note: I have decided to confront my perfectionism and imposter syndrome and I am planning to blog more. I do not have time to proofread. So, I embrace all my mistakes and typos, which might also be perceived as mistakes. To me, they are the sign that I write in another language: My mother tongue ❤

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TESOL 2020: Where the World *Cannot* Come Together!

My Visa Story

I realized that I happen to have one of the most “powerless” passports in the world when my UK visa got rejected three times and I could not attend EUROCALL2017 in person, and many thanks to Virtually Connecting, I could participate in the conference online (You can read about my visa story here: Denied yet Present at EUROCALL 2017: A Memoir).

Now that I have these visa rejections in my visa resume, every single time I apply for a visa I have to disclose them to the visa officer(s). Maybe this is the reason this bitter memory doesn’t fade away (I have written in detail about the nightmare of conference visa applications here).

Why am I writing these again (and again and again)? Because I want you to exactly know why I am “too sensitive” about visas and why I care “too much” about the unfair, and let me be clear, racist Trump travel ban, known as executive disorder among Iranians.

TESOL and Visa

As an ELT scholar, I have always wanted to attend TESOL conferences. I am a working class English instructor and for me TESOL is not an affordable conference to go, and of course I only have Iranian passport, so I automatically don’t submit my abstract(s) to TESOL conferences.

If you check TESOL2019 visa information page (click here, and I couldn’t find the similar page on TESOL2020 website), they ask:

Need A Visa?

For general visa information, visit the U.S. State Department website.

My answer to this question is a big yes, and I did check the US State Department website. I found this brochure, and of course the following information:

On Trump Travel Ban

Nationals of seven countries are currently subject to various travel restrictions contained in the Proclamation, as outlined in the following table, subject to exceptions and waivers set forth in the Proclamation.

The President issued Presidential Proclamation 9645, titled “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats,” on September 24, 2017.

Source: Click

Country Nonimmigrant Visas Immigrant and Diversity Visas
Iran No nonimmigrant visas except F, M, and J visas No immigrant or diversity visas
Libya No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas No immigrant or diversity visas
North Korea No nonimmigrant visas No immigrant or diversity visas
Somalia No immigrant or diversity visas
Syria No nonimmigrant visas No immigrant or diversity visas
Venezuela No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visas of any kind for officials of the following government agencies Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace; the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration, and Immigration; the Corps of Scientific Investigations, Judicial and Criminal; the Bolivarian Intelligence Service; and the People’s Power Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and their immediate family members.
Yemen No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas No immigrant or diversity visas

Source: Click here

You might wonder what “except F, M, and J visas for Iranians” means:

M and F visas: Student visas

J visas: Exchange visitor visas

This protest sign can explain why Iranians get this wavier:

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Source: Unknown (A friend shared this with me)

Let’s keep in mind that this waiver doesn’t mean that you can get the visa as you will be subject to “increased scrutiny”.

And the family members of the individuals affected by Trump travel ban are living in limbo.

Scholars of Color and Travel Ban

I guess now everyone knows about Trump travel ban. Infographics have been designed (one example here), documentaries have been made (one example here), and Twitter accounts have been created (one example is @UndoFamilyBan). Speaking of academia, Scholars of Color have been directly affected by Trump travel ban. Some examples:

You can read more about scholars’ travel ban stories here:

Banned Scientists 

Documenting the impact of the immigration ban on U.S. science

TESOL and the Actions I Took

First, I contacted @TESOL_Assn on Twitter. Here are my private messages:

 

I was told that if I have concerns regarding attending the TESOL Convention, I should contact conventions@tesol.org, and if I have any other questions, I should feel free to let them know.

I then tweeted this:

And I kept mentioning @TESOL_Assn and @TESOLConv.

And I wrote an email to the organizers (I usually refer to them as People in Power Positions):

Wed, Jul 11, 2018, 9:40 PM

Hi,

I hope this email finds you well.

I am contacting you about TESOL 2019 which will be held 12–15 March in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. I have noticed that “Where the world comes together” is being used to publicize the conference on TESOL social media. In this challenging, divisive time, this is not possible and I hope TESOL PR team reconsiders the way the word “world” is used. I am aware that some conference organizers (e.g., International Society for Language Studies) have decided not to hold their conferences in the USA until the travel ban is lifted. This is something that TESOL might want to consider. Moreover, opportunities can be provided to people who are affected by the travel ban to present online synchronously or asynchronously. I look forward to being able to participate at TESOL conferences.

Peace,

Parisa

I received a very positive reply and I was told that TESOL is against the travel ban and is trying to provide opportunities for those who are affected by the ban.

Note 1: Check ISLS’ response to Travel Ban here. ISLS 2018 was held in Canada and ISLS 2019 will be held in Hong Kong (check here). 

Note 2: I am sharing these private efforts because when you blog or share something on social media and express your concerns, you are told, “Why didn’t you write privately to them?”.

Recently, I noticed that “Where the World Comes Together” is still used for TESOL2020. I mentioned @RiahWerner and asked her to be my voice and bring this to the attention of TESOL’s Social Responsibility Interest Section (@SRIStesol) people as I know that she is involved in that SIG.

She then kindly suggested that I could write for the Social Responsibility Interest Section newsletter. I thought that’s a good idea and I immediately opened a Word file and started writing. I was in the middle of writing and researching that I noticed the theme of the conference for TESOL 2020 is “Where the World Comes Together”!

The TESOL ​2020 convention theme is Where the World Comes Together. Join the international TESOL community in Denver, Colorado, USA, and experience what makes this association unique: Engage in dialogue with present and future practitioners, administrators, researchers, and advocacy leaders about language education and policy as you enrich your knowledge, networks, and professional experience.

If you are an ELT professional or scholar or in a related field or content area, you are invited to submit a proposal for the TESOL 2020!

Source: Click here

That moment I realized that I should write what I want to say here on my platform.

To TESOL and Scholars of Color

Dear TESOL,

Thousands of academics have signed a letter opposing Trump’s travel ban (click here).

Thousands of scholars have protested against Trump’s travel ban by boycotting academic conferences held in the US (click here).

In solidarity with people affected by the ‘Muslim Ban’, an academic boycott of international conferences held in the US has been formed (click here).

I understand that it might not be easy to hold your conferences outside the US, however, I believe:

  • Changing your PR slogan was/is still possible.
  • Providing opportunities for virtual presentation and online participation was/is still possible.
  • Choosing a meaningful theme for educators who are constantly being told to be “inclusive” and teach “critical thinning”, “critical literacy”, and other buzzwords was possible.

if and only if you truly care. 

I have read your TESOL Statement on Second Immigration Executive Order many times! I used to be a big fan of Public Statements, but I’ve changed my mind. Apparently, they just serve the power structure. Also, I do follow your advocacy program which “addresses issues that affect the profession worldwide”. I’ve repeatedly asked myself, Why don’t these advocacy efforts facilitate real change? I then go and read @pgorski‘s article again: Complicity with conservatism: The de-politicizing of multicultural and intercultural education.

Dear fellow Scholars of Color,

When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.

quote-when-we-speak-we-are-afraid-our-words-will-not-be-heard-or-welcomed-but-when-we-are-silent-we-are-audre-lorde-114756

Peace,

Parisa

 

Women of Color in ELT

I’ve been trying to fit into the unjust, unfair, inequitable, and exclusionary ELT world about 5 years since I moved to Japan.

I have stopped trying to fit in. What happened and why? The following figure can give you some idea. You can also go through the blogposts here. So, I no longer wish to be “included” and no longer let anyone “include” me as those who have the power to “include”, have also the power to exclude.

Page-1

Source: Click here h/t: Click here

This blogpost by Maha Bali, Unpacking Terms Around Equity, Power and Privilege, and this lecture (Revolution Todayby Angela Davis were so eye-opening to me as I truly realized why “diversity” and “inclusion” are such problematic terms.

If we stand up against racism, we want much more than inclusion. Inclusion is not enough. Diversity is not enough, and as a matter of fact, we do not wish to be included in a racist society.

I remember that when I came to Japan, I was added to or encouraged to join ELT Facebook groups about gender equality/equity. Well, I did. I then turned the groups’ notifications off, and I told myself, I live in Japan and I have no gender issues anymore. So naive, huh?

I’m now acutely aware of the inequities imposed by the intersections of race, gender, skin color, physical appearance, nationality, and religion.

I even shifted my research focus from Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) —quite male-dominated area of research in ELT— to Social Justice Education and Equity Studies in Education (SESE).

I supported, joined, and got involved in feminist/equity/equality movements in ELT:

JALT GALE SIG

Women in ELT

EVE: Equal Voices in ELT

Equality in ELT in Japan

I also read about:

The Fair List

Gender Equality ELT

There was always a voice in the back of my head telling me that something is missing: A sense of belonging. A sense of representation.

I believe the reason is that the issues related to Women of Color in ELT, whose struggles are way different, are often ignored, and issues related to race are often swept under the rug.

For example, a database of women ELT speakers

  • cannot help women who have visa issues (e.g., read my visa story here, click here as well) and that is why we need to talk more about open access in ELT and support movements like Virtually Connecting.
  • cannot help women who live in contexts where currency crisis is an issue and that is why we need to add class to the equation.
  • cannot help women who find ELT conferences inhospitable and unsafe and that is why their needs should be addressed (e.g., how to navigate predominately white spaces in ELT).

I tried hard to communicate with these pictures.

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Click here

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Click here

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Click here

I googled and started reading to connect and bridge the historical gaps in my mind.

For example, I found this:

Rosie the Riveter isn’t a universal icon: “That was a white woman’s story”

So it wasn’t that I was boycotting the Rosie story. It simply had nothing to say to me.

That is why, inspired by Scholars of Color in Language Studies (SCiLS) and KOTESOL People of Color Teachers SIG, I have decided to start this movement in the hope of bringing Women of Color in ELT together so that we can support each other, learn together, and share our feelings that are constantly denied and invalidated by the dominant power structure in ELT:

 Women of Color in ELT

Women of Color in ELT, Twitter post

I want Women of Color to stand together against racial erasure in ELT.

I want Women of Color’s intersecting complex identities to be represented in ELT.

I want Women of Color in ELT to belong.

Peace, radical love, and revolutionary hope,

Parisa


You can read about WOC in ELT and its mission and goals at:

https://womenofcolorinelt.wordpress.com/about-woc-in-elt/

If you identify as a Woman of Color in ELT (read about the term “Woman of Color” here) and would like to add your name to the Database of WOC in ELT, you can fill out this form.

If you are a true ally and want to support this movement, please check WOC in ELT Supporters.

Intersectionality Workshop at ILA2018

viber image

Intersectionality workshop at ILA2018: A diverse, gender-balanced audience! 🙂

This week I presented at ILA2018 (here is the link to my poster presentation: “Write 4 Change”: Cultivating Autonomous, Global EFL Learners through Blogging). The conference highlight for me was the intersectionality workshop presented by Quenby Hoffman Aoki, JALT GALE SIG‘s coordinator.

It's Complicated_ Exploring Intersectional Identities in the Language Classroom

In her interactive workshop, Quenby first defined intersectionality, and then the participants discussed their experiences and engaged in several activities which can be applied in language classrooms.

What Is Intersectionality?

  • First named in the 1980’s by African-American feminist scholars (e.g., Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech, 1851)
  • Intersecting identities, including race, class, and gender, result in both privilege and oppression
  • The idea that systems of oppression are interrelated and cannot be considered in isolation
  • Also known as hybridity, matrix of oppression, multiple identities, mestizaje, double jeopardy
  • Although everyone has both privilege and challenge, intersectionality is ultimately about social justice!

Here is a video on intersectionality from Teaching Tolerance website: Teaching at the Intersections: Honor and teach about your students’ multiple identities

 

Here are some parts from Why Intersectionality Can’t Wait:

Intersectionality was a lived reality before it became a term.

Intersectionality is not just about identities but about the institutions that use identity to exclude and privilege. The better we understand how identities and power work together from one context to another,  the less likely our movements for change are to fracture.

Others accuse intersectionality of being too theoretical, of being “all talk and no action.” To that I say we’ve been “talking” about racial equality since the era of slavery and we’re still not even close to realizing it. Instead of blaming the voices that highlight problems, we need to examine the structures of power that so successfully resist change.

Here is a book recommended by Quenby: Women Across Cultures: A Global Perspective by Shawn Meghan Burn

The quotes that Quenby referred to:

 

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Activities

Student-generated Comments

Small groups discuss current text or topic. Each group writes one comment or sentence on the board. Then, for homework students choose one of the comments for a short essay. At the bottom of their essays, each student writes one further question, to be discussed in the next class.

For example: Not all women are emotional, and not all men are logical.

Writing on the Wall

8 to 10 controversial sentences related to current class topic (you can see a sample below), with a horizontal line (strongly disagree to strongly agree). Tape on wall around classroom. Students walk around and put their mark on the line. Afterwards, discuss the results. Follow up with an essay assignment.

viber image2

The “Privilege and Challenge” Walk

Privilege Walk Lesson Plan: https://peacelearner.org/2016/03/14/privilege-walk-lesson-plan/

Note: “Privilege and Challenge” Walk has been criticized and I need to read more about it and learn how to make it better. I recently talked to Maha Bali about the activity and she believes that role play is better than making a line to do the activity.

The Big Social Identities

List the three that you think are most important.

  1. Race (Skin Color)
  2. Ethnicity (Background)
  3. Gender
  4. Socioeconomic Status (Class)
  5. Religion
  6. Sexual Orientation
  7. Physical and Mental Ability
  8. Age
  9. Nationality

Now complete the sentence:

Hello, my name is …………………. and I am ……………………………………………………… and ………………………………………………………………………………………

Discussion:

  • Are there any of the above categories that you do not relate to or think about much?
  • Any you find problematic or confusing? Any other categories you would like to add to the list? (Marital status was mentioned by one of the participants)
  • Which of your identities do you think others judge you by the most?
  • Which carry the most privilege or challenge?
  • Bonus ** Which of them are social constructs?

Freewrite:

Examine an interaction you have had recently. Consider how the situation might have been different if you change one aspect of your identity?

 

On the Buzzwords of “Diversity” and “Inclusion”

why-diversity-inclusion_-e1531670748897

Diversity and Inclusion: Before coming to Japan, I had no idea what they mean! After experiencing exclusion and feeling marginalized, I am gradually getting to know these terms.

ELT people in Japan have felt that there is a need to talk about diversity and inclusion and probably this is why the theme of JALT2018 is “Diversity and Inclusion”. It is worth noting that the theme of SIETAR Japan 2017 was “Promoting Equity and Social Change: Acknowledging the Diversity Within”.

Here is the message on JALT2018 webpage:

“To everything there is a season.” And a reason. Now is the season for inclusion, to embrace the incredible diversity within our profession. Although there seems to be much diversion, division, and exclusion in the wider world, the time is now ripe for us to look at the diversity within our practices and ask, “How can we be more inclusive?” In order to support inclusion and create a more level playing field for our students, we need to better understand the evolving language learning and teaching landscape, become aware of the work that is being done in new areas and heed the call from our learners, teachers, and institutions to play our parts in a brighter future.

JALT2018 will provide a platform for new ideas and hitherto unheard voices to be heard. It will provide avenues to open up our classrooms and challenge existing ideas about what we language teachers and our learners need in order to usher in an era of change. We aim to address the concerns of teachers, learners, and leaders and show how “inclusion” provides a place from which multiplicity of thought and action can flourish.

The theme of the conference has been questioned. Here are the questions and you can find them on JALT social media:

  1. Is ‘exclusion’ a problem among JALT members that needs to be addressed?
  2. I must be confused. What does diversity and inclusion have to do with teaching English?
  3. Inclusion is a complex notion. I wonder what it means to everyone. It is obviously more than just being “included in a group”, with a lot of politics attached. Is it equality as well? Is it oriented to inclusion of minorities and removing discrimination?
  4. Would this inclusion and diversity you speak of be extended to those who are skeptical of the leftist / Marxist / post-modern conceptual framework on which the conference is based. This is a sincere question.

These questions encouraged me to do a deep research and find some information about diversity and inclusion. Maha Bali’s blog post, Unpacking terms around equity, power and privilege, and podcast, Complicating diversity and inclusion hosted by Greg Curran, were the best resources to start with. I read her blog post three times and listened to her podcast twice. I paused the podcast and went back and forth many times.

MahaBali1024x512

Here are the parts that I found interesting and thought-provoking:


♥ Becoming Conscious of Our Oppression ♥

Everyone who is a minority in some way at some point in their life becomes conscious of oppression hopefully if they are educated and they start to open their eyes. If you are in that situation and it is happening to you all the time, you start noticing it, and then you realize that it is actually intersectional.

Also, I found the term “colorblind” related to this point. Here are some parts from a post by Na Shai Alexander, Gen Y on D&I: The Problem with Colorblindness in the Selfie Generation. She remarks:

I-dont-see-color-i-only-see-people

How many times have you heard someone in your professional or personal circles say that they are “colorblind” or “don’t see color?”  Or that “color doesn’t matter” to them?  On the surface, these statements seem innocuous. And in a society where much history has been marked with painful recollections of racial tension, injustice, and discrimination, wounds that in many cases are still tender, it is easy to see why the term prevails. Talking about color isn’t easy, and so, in many cases, we don’t.

It is even more bizarre to conclude that we can be “colorblind” in this day of Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and the like. In this “selfie generation,” color is often the first (and hopefully not the last) detail that we see.

Diversity begins with color consciousness, or critical awareness of race and racism. However, awareness of and valuing diversity are not sufficient to achieve it.

Assuming that diverse persons will be attracted to an institution simply because of its excellence or because it values diversity is a passive approach that is unlikely to diversify an institution.

Proactive and ongoing efforts toward inclusion and equity are necessary to create and sustain diversity.


♥ Getting Beyond Generic Approaches to Diversity and Inclusion ♥

A lot of times we talk about diversity or we bring a different person but that does not take into account the complexity of how that different person will fit into the structures that already exist and a lot of times those structures are not modified to support the inclusion.

A lot of times diversity is tokenistic and it is just bringing a different person to look like we have the person but then it does not take into account the complexities why it is difficult for that person to be there in the first place, and once they are there, how to make sure that when they are there their voices are understood not just heard.

Diversity is a “nice” term for the dominant to use, and it implies that just having different people with different backgrounds is a desirable thing, because it benefits everyone, including the dominant. The problem with the term diversity is that it removes power from the equation.


♥ An Intentional Approach to Diversity and Inclusion ♥

The trickier thing is recognizing that diversity is HARD WORK if you want to do it right. Because integrating people who are different from the dominant majority/perspective is not a matter of plunging them in and expecting it all to work out. There will be tension. There needs to be intentional effort to make this work. To make the voices exist alongside each other, when in reality, having a couple of “diverse” voices in a sea of dominance does nothing to challenge the status quo.

Inclusivity is such a problematic term because:

♦ It implies there is a thing that belongs to certain people, and they’re being generous by including others into it, by letting others in.

♦ When I “include” someone, I include them on my own terms, and that’s not the epitome of empowerment. Inclusivity is better than not inclusivity, right? But inclusivity is not empowerment.

You involve people but you keep doing things exactly the same as you have been doing it before. That is not really solving the problem.

When you include one person who is different from everybody else, that does not help. But if you have the diversity of diverse people, that becomes different.


♥ Final Remarks ♥

As a Muslim who has lived in the US and UK, I don’t have a lot of instances of people discriminating me, but when it happens, it is deep because it is not that one incident. There is a lot more behind it. There is background to that feeling. You as an individual are not problematic.

Even marginal people together can silence each other, for example, by not being willing to speak up about certain things.


I keep reading and blogging! 🙂

 

 

How to Achieve Gender Parity in ELT Conferences and Events: Some Guidelines

How to Achieve Gender Parity in ELT Conferences & Events (1)

I am an active member of JALT GALE SIG and we are discussing how to achieve gender parity in ELT conferences, events, and associations in general. It is believed that some guidelines are needed to make the selection processes systematic as there is a fine line between inclusion and positive discrimination. Some good articles have been shared on the GALE mailing list. As usual, I consulted EVE: Equal Voices in ELT. Also, I personally did a search and found some resources.

Here is the list of articles and other resources on this topic that I have read so far:

And here are the parts that I found interesting:

  1. Become aware of our own biases, which means recognizing the lenses that we’ve looked through for our entire lives.
  2. To reduce gender biases, we need to acknowledge them.
  3. Avoid these excuses: https://www.genderavenger.com/excuses/ and https://www.bbc.com/news/business-44310225
  4. Collect the data; i.e., count the number of women and men attending a conference.
  5. Develop a speaker policy; for example, the conference committee wants to achieve a gender balance of speakers that roughly reflects that of its audience.
  6. Make the policy visible and put it online for everyone to see.
  7. Establish a balanced and informed program committee. If the conference program committee is not diverse, then neither will be the speaker list.
  8. Report the data to see how well the conference, speaker series, or symposium meets its stated policy goals.
  9. Build and use databases because some people find it difficult to come up with names of women speakers, compared with men speakers. Here is an example: https://genderequalityelt.wordpress.com/database-of-women/
  10. Respond to resistance. Most criticisms are easily addressed by establishing a dialogue with those who are critical about establishing a policy, and you can prepare in advance.
  11. Support women at meetings. Women often have primary caring responsibility for children. This can limit their ability to travel and to attend conferences. So, be family-friendly.
  12. Take the pledge: When you are invited to help organize, attend, or speak at a conference, ask to see the conference speaker policy before you accept.
  13. Make diversity a strategic priority and expect those who work for and/or with us to do so as well.
  14. Raise awareness of diversity. If you are asked to present, be on a panel, or serve on a committee, ask if there are (other) women participating. If not, suggest names of women to invite.
  15. Consider not speaking at an event unless the event’s organizers are clearly working hard to address diversity on stage.

At Buffer, they ask themselves if the event displays the characteristics of their core  values. Here are some of them:

  • Default to transparency
  • Listen first, then listen more
  • Have a bias toward clarity
  • Make time to reflect
  • Show gratitude
  • Do the right thing

I think some of these guidelines can be applied to achieve highly proficient speaker parity in ELT conferences and events as well.

Finally, here is the most interesting conflict of interest I have ever read:

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
We care about diversity in science and may therefore be biased.

If you want to add more guidelines or share some resources on how to achieve gender parity in ELT conferences and events, which should not be an issue but it is in some contexts, please leave a comment.

Thank you.

Peace ❤

#MAVRLT Tweet Chat Summary: MAVR and ELT. A match made in Heaven?

MAVRLT

JALT Mixed, Augmented, and Virtual Realities in Learning (MAVR) SIG teamed up IATEFL Learning Technologies (LT) SIG for a tweetchat, #MAVRLT, which took place on Sunday, May 13th, 2018, and that was the first #JALTchat.

The participants:

The guiding questions were:

  • What is MAVR and what has it got to do with language teaching?
  • AR, VR, and MR: How are they different?
  • How can we use MAVR to teach languages?
  • What are your MAVR recommended apps/devices?

MAVR and ELT: A Match Made In Heaven?

@SophiaMav started the chat by asking this question:

@Rach_Ribeiro said that we can use MAVR to enhance the experience within the language learning environment. She provided an example:

Let’s say a lesson theme is travelling and as a grammar focus the use of ‘there is , there are’ to describe places. Instead of just looking at photos, the students can actually experience walking on the street of the cities mentioned.

@teacherphili then mentioned that because it is up for debate, and he asked, “Are MAVR and ELT really a match made in heaven?” @Rach_Ribeiro replied, when MAVR is timely used and not overused, then MAVR and ELT are a match made in heaven. @ParisaMehran said that yes, if the devices are affordable and smaller. @Paul_Driver stated that there are lots of snippets about the technology; however, little said about theory or pedagogical implications. @ChrisRHastings added that he thinks we are at the stage where we all understand the obvious potential, but optimal pedagogies and applications are less clear. He also said that he thinks MAVR is great at tapping into that visual side of language learning and making input delivered through the medium very compelling.

@Rach_Ribeiro remarked that ELT teachers in general know that there is a potential but it is (unfortunately) mostly related to entertainment the way I see it, teachers who have been integrating some sort of VR and AR should share their real case studies. Also, sepending on the day and on how tired students are it does make a difference and changes the vibe of the class. She also emphasized that VR or AR it should be used for no longer than 5 minutes, because the aim is that this VR experience is a start to conversational activities, regardless of the level. Moreover, there is the concern of not getting students dizzy because people react differently to being in a VR environment.

@MehrasaAlizadeh said that entertainment or better say “edutainment” is a merit rather than a drawback especially in low-motivation contexts like Japan. @teacherphili then mentioned that so MAVR is used in Japan because it is more motivational – does that applying to learning a language, too? @MehrasaAlizadeh replied, in my experience, learners get more engaged in language learning activities with the use of MAVR tools such as BlippAR and Google Cardboard. Of course, not all learners but the majority I have worked with said so.

@mothralad said the immersiveness is such a huge advantage: The feeling of actually occupying a space. What @heikephilp likes about VR is that there is no keyboard which is great to encourage speaking, and @SophiaMav had these question for @heikephilp: “Speaking with whom though? Can students speak when wearing the headset – I mean, no eye contact and that does not make the experience a bit lonely? less interactive?”

Here are the answers:

  • @heikephilpThere are a number of social VR worlds only for high end headsets: Sansar, high fidelity, vtime, social vr, altspaces all have as feature voice over IP.
  • @Rach_RibeiroWhile ‘visiting’ a location they can be paired up with another student who is not using the VR set and describe what they see or answer the questions the other st asks. With YLE I ask one question only during the ‘journey’.
  • @oyajimboWith a headset on, you need a guide, i.e., your partner with different information and you cannot read the book. You can see but at the same time ‘blind’. Have to talk!
  • @Eric_Hawkinson: See social VR like Altspace or Facebook Social VR – basicly chatrooms for embodied avatars.
  • @mothraladIn the classroom, breaks in a VR activity where students discuss the content eye to eye can be helpful, then go back in. It’s also helpful for reducing eye strain.

@oyajimbo believed that MAVR is being tried in Japan because the tech is here and connectivity is not an issue and students sometimes need a cattleprodding to get going. @ParisaMehran added that the “wow moments” change the mood of our classrooms. The students come out of their seats and start walking (instead of sleeping). @SophiaMav then asked, “Don’t we need more than the wow factor when it comes to learning a language?” @ParisaMehran replied that she sometimes uses MAVR just to motivate and engage, because it works in Japan. @Eric_Hawkinson argued that wow is fleeting, especially when the content is not relevant and interesting, even in VR.

@SophiaMav pointed out that motivation is a significant factor in language learning. So can we say that MAVR pedagogy’s premises lie in motivation and immersion with regard to language learning? @ChrisRHastings said that not only motivation, but as a way to make input more comprehensible and memorable. @ParisaMehran tried to connect project based learning and TBLT to MAVR. But yes, motivation motivates her to use MAVR.

When @Rach_Ribeiro‘s A1 adult learners ‘visited’ London using VR it was memorable and she could see that her students had never traveled abroad. So, VR brings the understanding closer to you.

@heikephilp said that she is surprised that the extensive research on language learning in virtual worlds seem overlooked. Lots of research has shown the great benefits of real time communication at a distance and the lowering of effective filter. She also added that it seems to her that everyone jumps on a trend without looking at past and if you look at what VR is intended to be, it is certainly not 360° photo for a cardboard like device. It is much more. @SophiaMav then asked, “But where is the distance? We talked about real class environments here. Isn’t there a clear difference between MAVR and Virtual worlds – apart from the obvious similarities?” @ChrisRHastings argued that the VR in MAVR is more concerned with highly immersive headset-based VR, rather than simply any computer-generated 3D virtual environment.

@teacherphili then asked, “Is there a minimum age of students you would use VR in the classroom?” While @oyajimbo believed that he does not use with young learners as it can be addictive very quickly, @ParisaMehran pointed out that young learners are “digital natives” and are already addicted.

@SophiaMav said that all this sounds very promising. But how can we tackle the issue of VR equipment being so unaffordable? Aren’t prices prohibitive for the average classroom/ teacher/ institution?

Chatters provided the following answers:

  • @gegnagoyaIt depends on what you want to do. Google Cardboards can go as low as 500 or 600 yen, but if you want very immersive VR programs, it will be a while before the cost comes down, unfortunately.
  • @ChrisRHastingsStudents already own part of the hardware component, smartphones, and headsets can cost from as little as $10.
  • @gegnagoyaWith university students a BYOD policy usually works since they mostly own smartphones. If you provide the headsets as the instructor, the overall cost can remain quite low.
  • @SophiaMavWith BOYD policies though students – especially young learners and teens need digcit skills otherwise they may get very distracted – by using their devices for other reasons than learning.

What Is MAVR?

@Eric_Hawkinson raised the following question:

@ParisaMehran said, to her, MAVR is an extension but to make it more popular, we need to have specific research groups. She also mentioned that she has good examples of AR (e.g., Pokémon Go) and VR (e.g., Google Cardboard) but not of MR. She added that an example of MR can be Magic Leap but why it is considered as mixed reality is not clear to her. @heikephilp stated that Magic leap has produced a simple device that can be clipped on a cardboard to create hands without controllers.

@teacherphili asked, “Anyone got a good example / demo of Magic Leap?” He wanted to know how ‘mixed’ it is. @Eric_Hawkinson said that Magic Leap has been very closed about demos. “I personally am very suspicious of the videos they have released. But they got $$$”.

@heikephilp argued that we have had immersive learning since early Second Life times and it was not adopted. Not even a headset needed and Second Life was popular in 2006-2008.

@Eric_Hawkinson asked for the definition of CALL or MALL and @SophiaMav provided the following definition:

Back in 1997 Levy defined it as “the search for and study of applications of the computer in language teaching and learning” but of course there are more recent definitions.

@Eric_Hawkinson stated that if you were to follow the logic, you could replace computer in this definition with augmented and virtual technology, but it would not be accurate. In his opinion, this evolution has become more than about the technology. Eric has been focusing on how human interaction with this new media is different.


Research on MAVR

The following question was posed by @SophiaMav about the research done on MAVR: 

@mothralad said that the research on MAVR is still at its early stages. Together with his colleague, @ChrisRHastings, they have preliminary data that study abroad students can benefit from VR training before they depart. But we need to dig deeper with even more subjects.

@MehrasaAlizadeh shared more data on the impact of AR in an EFL class: Learning by design: Bringing poster carousels to life through augmented reality in a blended English course


MAVR Recommended Tools/Apps

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Photo shared by @Eric_Hawkinson 

  • Google Cardboard
  • GoPRO Camera
  • Theta Camera
  • Metaverse
  • Minecraft
  • ARientation
  • HTCVive
  • OculusRift
  • Google Expeditions
  • BlippAR
  • Zappar
  • HP Reveal
  • Aurasma
  • Flight Radar 24
  • Star Walk
  • Google Street View
  • YouTube VR

@SophiaMav asked, “How many of each do we need for a class of say 20 students? One for each student or can they share?” @Rach_Ribeiro replied, I teach 20 students per group and two Google Cardboard boxes are enough as we should use the rotation technique where the groups have different assignments and one of them is the use of Google Cardboard boxes.

@heikephilp said that as a great example for AR is Google lens which uses image recognition and Google search. Great for learning vocabulary. Go to market and point your mobile at fruit.

According to @ChrisRHastings, Google Expeditions is the most practical tool so far for teaching language in content-based classes. @Rach_Ribeiro then explained how to incorporate it into the classroom:

Expeditions has been greatly improved and now it is open to everyone. I’d like to highlight that there are 360º videos on YouTube that can be used as well. Last week, I took a group of 22 6 year-old Young Learners A1 to ‘visit’ Hamleys the toyshop and name the toys. While ‘visiting’ the shop, I asked each one of them: What can you see? They used the words they had previously learned: Teddy bear, action figure, doll, car.

@MehrasaAlizadeh added that with the newly released Google VR Tour Creator, the potentials for student-generated content are expanding more than ever before.


How Can We Use MAVR to Teach Languages?

@ParisaMehran stated that she uses VR as empathy machines to raise social and cultural awareness and promote social justice.

@Rach_Ribeiro said, it reminded me of a similar experience: A year ago the lesson for a group of C1 students was natural disasters and I used Google Cardboard box so my students could ‘visit’ a location in the US during a hurricane. Somebody had used a Gopro to film.

@Eric_Hawkinson also mentioned that others in JALT MAVR SIG have been working with AR and VR to give perceptive and raise empathy (#RefugeesWelcome).


Conclusion

@SophiaMav concluded the chat by asking this question: “So, can we say that we can see the potential in language learning but more research – including action research – is needed? Research that will explore the pedagogy of MAVR in language learning and possibly link to CALL and MALL?

Here are the answers:

  • @ParisaMehranYes, I think so. And I’d like to see more MAVR based lesson plans. I as a teacher need to know how to integrate MAVR into my classes.
  • @ChrisRHastingsSome rigorous longitudinal studies would be nice. Also, theory to link MAVR to key existing ideas in SLA.
  • @alsayeghazizI’ve been using a lot on VR games lately and looking for a possibility of going beyond flipped classroom teaching/learning. There are some issues that I do believe that needs to be looked at. Such as, nausea, full isolation, learners experience, etc.
  •  @Rach_RibeiroDefinitely more action research and case studies , Twitter chats and more sharing!

Here are the links that were shared during the chat:


If you have classroom experiences with MAVR or know other MAVR tools, please leave a comment.

Thanks for reading.

Peace