Social Justice and World Language Instruction

Last night, I participated in a webinar on “Social Justice in the World Language Classroom” sponsored by Concordia Language Villages.  The presenter, Cassie Glynn is one of the authors of the book Words and Actions There were so many helpful pointers in this presentation, but most importantly were the ideas on how to integrate social justice discussions in the target language without having to introduce too much additional work on the part of the professor.

First of all, what is social justice?  Let us understand it, for our current purposes, as equality and fairness among individuals in society.  As we know, this can be viewed through several different lenses and can be applied to various topics.

When an instructor decides that social justice is an important part of the world language curriculum, what kinds of learning goals should be considered?  What do we hope our students will take away from these discussions and what kind of tools should the be building throughout the term?  Dr. Glynn believes there are 5 essential components to incorporating discussion of social justice in the language classroom.

While the World Readiness Standards, or 5 Cs, are all essential in our language classrooms, at the novice level, cultures is probably the easiest access point for discussions of social justice.  Let us remember that standards include products, practices, and perspectives – how can social justice be related to these areas?  Dr. Glynn provided some suggestions.

I can imagine what you’re thinking: how can I find time to incorporate one more element into my already packed classroom time?!  But there are endless entry points for including social justice discussions, and many of them begin with the textbook.  Publisher-provided cultural content, vocabulary lists, and activities are excellent launching points for your first forays into discussions of social justice in the language classroom.  

As you plan to integrate social justice in your curriculum, consider these suggestions from Dr. Glynn that relate to traditional novice- and intermediate-level units.  

If this is an area that interests you, I encourage you to begin with the ACTFL book Words and Actions (free ebook version available to ACTFL members!) and to join the brand new Critical and Social Just Approaches Special Interest Group.

**Find the full webinar here.**


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