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Words and Actions: Teaching Languages Through the Lens of Social Justice, New Book Published by ACTFL, to Debut in San Antonio

CONTACT: Howie Berman

Alexandria, VA—The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is proud to announce the release of Words and Actions: Teaching Languages Through the Lens of Social Justice. Co-authored by Cassandra Glynn, Concordia College, Pamela Wesely, University of Iowa, and Beth Wassell, Rowan University, the book will debut at this year’s ACTFL Convention and World Languages Expo in San Antonio, TX, November 21-23, 2014.

According to Glynn, Wesely, and Wassell, a social justice curriculum positively influences all students. Social justice, critical pedagogy, and culturally relevant teaching are becoming essential as more and more language educators teach in an increasingly diverse language classroom. This new publication supports in-service and pre-service teachers in recognizing their students’ diverse backgrounds while also supporting students’ ability to think critically about the world around them. It lays out a detailed roadmap for integrating social justice themes into language curriculum, with steps such as self-examination, unit design, lesson planning, and self-assessment. It also includes a number of templates that can be used to scaffold social justice instruction.

When asked about the connection between language education and issues of social justice, co-author Cassandra Glynn says, “I consider the world language classroom to be a transformative place in that it can change students’ lives and their perspectives about the world outside of their own school or community. Integrating social justice education into the world language classroom leads to greater transformation, challenging students and allowing all students to reach their full potential.  In my opinion, social justice education is a natural and necessary component of world language teaching.”

Questioning mainstream approaches to language and culture learning is vital. An emphasis on social justice is, in part, a way to expand the definition and scope of language education, leading to further innovation in the profession. Co-author Pamela Wesely adds, “World language teachers have the knowledge, awareness, and understanding to bring truly important insights about social justice to their students. Using social justice as a content and context for world language learning links our work to other disciplines and other movements in modern education.”

The authors will be signing copies of their book onsite at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center on Saturday, November 22, 2014, from 3 pm – 4 pm.

Words and Actions will be available for purchase online starting mid-November.

Cassandra Glynn is an Assistant Professor at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where she teaches world language methods, German, and works with student teachers. She is also Director of the Master of Education in World Language Instruction at Concordia College in partnership with Concordia Language Villages. Prior to working in teacher education, she taught middle and high school German and French in Minnesota and North Dakota.

Pamela Wesely is an Assistant Professor of Foreign Language and ESL Education at the University of Iowa. She teaches courses to pre-service world language teachers and graduate students specializing in second language teaching and learning research, and her research addresses the K-12 world language classroom and its stakeholders. She was previously a middle school French teacher for eight years.

Beth Wassell is Professor in the College of Education at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in world language methods, ESL methods, and multicultural education. Her research focuses on language teaching and learning in urban schools. Prior to her work in teacher education, she taught high school Spanish in Florida and New Jersey and English to adults in Pennsylvania.

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is the national association for language education professionals from all levels of instruction and representing all languages. With more than 12,300 active members, ACTFL provides innovative professional development opportunities, acclaimed training and certification programs, and widely cited books, publications, scholarly journals, research studies and language education resources, including Foreign Language Annals and The Language Educator magazine. As part of its mission and vision, the organization provides guidance to the profession and to the general public regarding issues, policies, and best practices related to the teaching and learning of languages and cultures. ACTFL is a leading national voice among language educators and administrators and is guided by a responsibility to set standards and expectations that will result in high quality language programs.

Monday, November 10, 2014