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Teasing out the social justice strands from the BALEAP 2021 Conference

Like for many in our EAP community, our minds are still buzzing from the wealth of insights gained from the rich range of sessions offered at the recent online BALEAP 2021 conference hosted by the University of Glasgow. Ever keen to identify social justice (SJ) related aspects of EAP practices and pedagogies, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on what SJ insights can be teased out from the conference. Some of these insights are more overt than others, such as in the visionary, inspirational talk given by Dr. Maha Bali, the first plenary speaker, who advocated for the widespread adoption of a pedagogy of equity and care in her talk entitled Creating Equitable, Caring Communities Online. But, as social justice goes by many names, we were also interested in identifying other, less overt references to practices and pedagogies which may be regarded as being aligned with social justice principles. This feeds into one of the key aims of our SIG – to widen the visible parameters of the field of social justice by demonstrating the range of initiatives which can be shown to fall under the SJ umbrella.

As Maha’s keynote symbolically seemed to set the tone for many of the other sessions at the conference, it seems useful to reflect this in this blog post by using some of her observations as a framework to talk about other SJ resonances from a sample of the sessions that we attended and, in the process, to show how a pedagogy of equity and care can be seen to underpin much good practice currently being developed in the EAP classroom.

Overview of Maha’s key points

The keynote was introduced by Iwona Winiarska-Pringle, who quoted an extract from one of Maha’s blog posts from 2015, which usefully summed up the importance of care in the classroom:

“Sometimes the most valuable thing we can offer our students is genuine care for them, their well-being, their happiness. Not just their grades. Not just their learning. But their whole selves” (Bali, 2015).

This unapologetic focus on an aspect of teaching which has traditionally been undervalued in terms of institutional recognition and recompense, but which many teachers and students instinctively do and appreciate anyway, was very refreshing, as was the fact that the Glasgow BALEAP Conference team gave Maha the space to spotlight these important issues in the first keynote of the 2021 biennial conference. 

However, Maha was quick to emphasise that care without equity is not enough, as, for example, equity without genuine care may lead to empty tokenism, while care without equity may lead to care being given selectively. She demonstrated the interplay of these two elements through the following Equity/Care Matrix (Bali & Zamora, 2020):

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She then proceeded to show that care and equity can work on a number of levels in the classroom, and that it is important to intentionally attend to how we might enact these principles at each level: 

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Of particular note is the fact that Maha enacted the very principles of which she spoke in the way in which she chose to deliver the plenary itself; to put it in her own words, she “walked the talk”, which is a vital principle of all social justice work. For example, she started the session with a “chatterfall”, in which she asked the audience a number of questions related to their well-being – such as “What gives you energy these days?” – and invited them to respond in the chat box. She encouraged the sharing of reflections at various points throughout the plenary, and responded to many of these, thus enacting her principle of facilitating equitable participation and responding accordingly. She also enacted her recommendation of keeping online activities short in order to keep people’s energy levels up. Another principle that was reflected in her plenary was to give participants the option of commenting on her PowerPoint slides during or after the session. This is reminiscent of an approach which she uses with her students in which she invites them to annotate the syllabus – to literally add notes to the syllabus document regarding things which they find interesting, confusing, etc. This enactment of the key principles outlined in her talk was a powerful testament to the value of adopting such an approach, and she encouraged the audience to explore a wealth of further activities adopting these principles through the Equity Unbound website she co-curated, and, indeed, invited us to add to these if we wished to: https://onehe.org/equity-unbound .

Having outlined Maha’s approach, we will now go on to weave these together with points made in other sessions throughout the conference.

Removing the doors: Tackling systemic inequality in our sector

Maha shared a powerful analogy of what we need to do to tackle systemic inequality in our sector. She suggested that simply opening doors is not enough; we need to remove these doors completely, as an opened door can still be closed by someone else at a later point:

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This reflects the fact that it is important that measures taken to tackle inequality are not simply dependent on the goodwill of individuals; the systems and processes adopted by the institution and organisations as a whole need to undergo a paradigm shift in order for such measures to be truly sustainable.

That said, it is often through the work of pioneering individuals that such doors are even opened in the first place. This was reflected in the EAP for Social Justice SIG’s EAP for Refugees session, which was inspired by the visionary widening participation work of the late Carol Irvine, along with colleague Dr. Bill Guariento, at the University of Glasgow. In his testimonial to Carol and her work, Bill outlined how Carol decided to use her own position within the English for Academic Study unit at the University of Glasgow to lobby for the provision of free places for refugee students on their summer pre-sessional programme, and she was successful in this venture. 

Not only this, but she and Bill were also very generous in terms of sharing their good practice with others in the field of EAP, which influenced the resultant practice of at least one other university – the University of Leicester. To expand on this, we then heard from Phil Horspool, who outlined how the University of Sanctuary work at the University of Leicester started with the work of a few individuals in its English Language Teaching Unit, and has now been extended into a university-wide sanctuary initiative, through which change has been written into systems and process in many areas of operation, though it remains the case that the model of practice employed still places language provision and EAP at the core of the university-wide sanctuary work. Examples of how this work has been embedded throughout the institution include the provision of up to 12 places for new refugee-background students on pre-sessional courses each term, and the creation of a number of sanctuary scholarships for both face-to-face and distance learning degree programmes. A pictorial representation of the network of internal and external departments / services / organisations involved in this provision can be seen here:

Has the door therefore been removed from its hinges in this instance? Phil was clear that there is still work to be done in this regard, both within the university and in terms of working together with other universities. Whilst the degree of communication between universities about sanctuary work is certainly improving, partly through simply having conversations about their respective sanctuary work, and partly through the existence of the Universities of Sanctuary JISCmail list, which provides a useful forum for the sharing of information and good practice … more can be done in terms of putting in place inter-university systems to remove unnecessary doors. For example, Phil is keen to set up a process by which universities can recognise the exit grades that sanctuary students may have gained through other institutions’ pre-sessional programmes, thereby expanding the degree of choice that refugee-background students have as to the institution they might join and the course they might take. This flexibility may be particularly helpful for people seeking asylum, who may be moved to a different city by the Home Office at short notice. It is clear, then, that more can be done at sector-level to remove more doors.

One successful initiative which is already operating at sector level (and has been since 2016) is the CARA Syria Programme, led by Michael Jenkins. The main purpose of this scheme is to enable Syrian academics in exile in Turkey to continue their academic activities to enable them to retain and continue to develop academic skills and capital, which will allow them to play a vital role in the rebuilding of Syria (when it is safe for them to return there) and the education of a new generation of professionals and academics. 

Michael outlined how the EAP component of the CARA Syria scheme operates, with volunteer EAP practitioners providing weekly 1:1 online lessons to Syrian academics in exile in Turkey. Another component of the CARA scheme, outlined by Baraa Khuder and Dr Bojana Petric in their presentation entitled Established Academics’ EAL Academic Literacies Development in Exile: Research-Based Materials for ERPP Teaching, involves CARA participants working alongside UK academics to help them publish in international journals. In their study of a number of these co-authorships episodes, however, Baraa and Bojana found that collaborative writing involving asymmetrical power relations is not always unproblematic, and that “the mentoring aspect of collaboration is crucial and its neglect (as a result of prioritising the publishing goals or lack of understanding of the nature of academic literacies development) could lead to negative feelings and misunderstandings, negatively impacting development” (Khuder & Petric, 2021). An example was cited of a CARA mentor asking a Syrian academic with whom she was co-authoring a paper “why anyone would be interested in reading about a plant in Syria”. Quite unsurprisingly, this comment was received negatively by the CARA participant, who felt that the implication was that people would not know about or be interested in Syria in its own right, an implication which he found very upsetting, and he therefore deleted the comment in question. However, once the mentor and mentee sat down to discuss their feelings and perspectives about this feedback, the mentor elaborated on the rationale behind her comment, explaining that the feedback was related to audience considerations and was an attempt to limit the potential “parochialism” implicit in his linking of a plant to one specific country in a paper intended for publication in an international journal. The CARA participant felt able to accept this explanation and the pair were subsequently able to move forward from this episode. To attempt to reduce the likelihood of negative encounters such as this occurring again, Baraa and Bojana developed workshop materials and activities based on real-life co-authorship episodes in which negative feelings emerged, in order to encourage participants to reflect on their own practice, to draw their attention to such issues arising from potential misunderstandings and hidden emotions and how they might use an intervention model to address these effectively. This session highlighted the importance of not only removing doors from their hinges but of doing so with care and sensitivity. Furthermore, incidents such as the one outlined above clearly also raise the issue of asymmetrical power relations in teaching and learning contexts. Exploring these dynamics was not the focus of this research project, but please see the Teacher as Host sections below for examples of how asymmetrical power relations have been successfully challenged in other contexts.

Fostering psycho-social well-being (both students’ AND teachers’!)

The need for care, sensitivity and trust in the EAP classroom was another theme which was emphasised by Maha and echoed by others throughout the conference. Maha emphasised the idea that “building community online is more important than ever due to the trauma of the pandemic”, and she proceeded to outline a number of trauma-informed pedagogical strategies that she employs to this end, including talking to students about how trauma affects the brain and the learning process to demystify this phenomenon, and giving student strategies for tackling it. One such strategy is to build in class activities which are less anxiety-inducing, such as giving students the opportunity to introduce themselves asynchronously rather than synchronously, which gives them more time to reflect on how they wish to present themselves to others (which puts this process more in the students’ control). Another strategy is to ask students to keep a “gratitude journal”, which is often used in the field of positive psychology, and has been found to lead to greater levels of psychological well being (Seligman et al, 2005, in Falout, 2016:115). Students are then invited to share only the parts that they feel comfortable sharing with others in the class. There are many other suggestions for community-building strategies included in the website which Maha co-curated: https://onehe.org/equity-unbound/ 

This emphasis on the importance of community building to students’ sense of psycho-social well being was echoed in Dr Ide Haghi’s session, focusing on Students’ Affective Engagement with, and Well-being during, an Online EAP Course. She found that the students surveyed found the experience of attending an online pre-sessional course relatively stressful, and felt a reduced sense of belonging as compared with face-to-face classes. She therefore recommended that, in order for students to establish a good sense of belonging to their class and to smaller study groups, teachers should build guided relationship-building activities into a course early on. She also found that students miss opportunities for out-of-class interaction with classmates and teachers, so suggested that occasional out-of-class live sessions might be provided to help meet this need. Another recommendation was that, where pre-sessional courses are divided into smaller blocks, students should be kept in the same class when they move to the next course, in order that they may continue to develop their bonds with their classmates, bearing in mind this is more difficult and time-consuming to achieve in an online class, partly due to the lack of informal spaces to chat and build relationships. 

This relates to findings reported by Andrew Northern and Rebecca White in their session entitled Surviving and Thriving in Challenging Times: Investigating Pre-Sessional Teacher Emotions on an Online Summer Pre-Sessional Course. In a survey of online summer pre-sessional tutors at Imperial College London, they found that the tutors missed personal contact with their students and also other tutors; in terms of the latter, though there were attempts by the managers to encourage the building of an informal online support network among the tutors, in an attempt to reduce the occurrences of tutor stress and burnout, this met with limited success. It is unclear as to why this was the case, but one participant speculated that “to build a staff community, there would be a benefit in having a space that can work by different rules – the only channels to post to everyone are ‘official’ and it can restrict what you feel you can say”. The implication here is that a less formal medium of communication such as WhatsApp might be preferable as a means of social and emotional connection between tutors, but the tutors in this study did not naturally use this method either, potentially because of screen fatigue, or a reluctance to intrude on people’s personal time. The question as to how to build a sense of social connection between tutors on an online course was left open, but the implication was that it is something which tutors missed and felt that would have benefited from. It would be interesting to see whether implementing some of the recommendations for community building amongst students (as outlined by Maha and Ide above) might be effective amongst tutors too.

Teacher as host: Equitable hospitality

With regard to equitable community building and ensuring that all students feel valued in the classroom, Maha furnished us with a powerful metaphor; teachers need to recognise that they are the host in the space of the classroom, that they own that space, that they have power in it, and that they are actively responsible for making students feel at home, as welcome guests. The perception that all members of a class are always naturally able to participate as equals in that space is an illusion; marginality can be both visible and invisible, and equitable conditions need to be actively and consciously created by the person who wields the most power in that space, and who therefore has the responsibility to wield it with intentional equity – the teacher.

What might intentional hospitality look like in EAP? Might it involve inviting students to employ “translanguaging” in this space? Translanguaging was the focus of the paper given by Dr. Yan Zhao, Xi’an Jiaotong and Qiwei Zhang, entitled Translanguaging and Identity Construction as a Resource for Learning in the EAP Classrooms in China. They argued that, by allowing students to “evoke and integrate different types of knowledge, discourses, norms and perspectives which they have previously gained through their bilingual experience” (Creese & Blackledge, 2015) and use their mother tongue for certain activities in the EAP classroom, the Chinese EAP students in their study were able to bring useful aspects of their out-of-class identity into the EAP classroom, leading to improved learning outcomes. For example, students’ demonstration of critical and analytical thinking skills increased when they were permitted to write initial written reflections in their mother tongue. 

Another way in which the intentional hospitality analogy might be extended through a focus on language practices can be seen in Sue Teale and Rina Vokel de Vries’ session entitled EAP as a Lingua Franca: moving towards a more inclusive, internationalised standard. They reported that many English-speaking HE institutions take the deficit approach of expecting conformity to native English norms and Western academic culture (Jenkins & Wingate, 2015) and, as a result, international students’ communicative confidence can actually drop after joining the English-speaking academic community. To achieve true internationalisation, Sue and Rina advocated approaching academic English as a Lingua Franca by applying the more inclusive definition of mutual intelligibility – because, as they claimed, “after all, most HE institutions specify the intended graduate attributes of being able to operate in a globalised world, with different culturally determined communication styles and Englishes”. They held that the above has consequences for the pedagogical approach in EAP, as they defined proficiency as being able to communicate in an intercultural, international setting rather than attaining (near-)native ‘perfection’ when redesigning their Pre-sessional EAP course by integrating stimulating topics of culture, internationalisation of HE, and students’ mental health, which allowed students to explore content of their new reality in a more reflective way. By emphasising writing and speaking fluency, and offering native and non-native language exemplars, the EAP practitioners provided a more inclusive, international outlook, hoping to increase students’ confidence. It was great to see that this innovative, confidence-building approach worked and supported the authors’ original focus on lessening the dominance of native-English speakerism in academia, as the scholars shared results of the post-course survey and focus groups in which students stated that the approach taken was engaging and challenging as the vast majority indicated their academic language and general social English skills had improved. 

By the same token, the intentional hospitality analogy might also be applied to teachers’ responsibility to develop equitable conditions when planning for interaction in the international classroom, as outlined in a paper presentation from the same EAP practitioner, Rina Vokel de Vries and her co-presenter, Kevin Haines, in a session entitled EAP for content lecturers in times of internationalisation: integrating intercultural and linguistic dimensions into CPD. The scholars emphasised that this interaction requires adjustment from lecturers and students alike as “lecturers need to forge pathways towards a more inclusive, internationalised approach by promoting intercultural exchange, providing equitable access to language, letting go of native speaker norms, and allowing for diverse communication styles” (Jenkins & Wingate, 2015). Rina and Kevin reflected on their involvement in integrating these skills into lecturers’ repertoire and its implications for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) which targets training in intercultural awareness and competence among staff. It was fascinating to hear that Birmingham managed to identify space for EAP tutors to play an active role in assisting educationally mobile students in adjusting to a different cultural and academic context and developing the ability to interact successfully in an English-speaking HE setting. 

The presentation demonstrated the use of CPD materials and illustrated how EAP tutors can help with facilitating lecturers’ CPD. The scholars revealed their CPD utilises The EAP Toolkit including pedagogies such as grading language, scaffolding knowledge acquisition, and evaluating different communication styles. The scholars also commented on using materials found in EQUiiP, a recently completed Erasmus+ project, which offered a support platform for educational developers and content lecturers aiming to ensure quality in international and intercultural classrooms in HE. This open-access CPD resource consisting of specially designed modules on ‘Intercultural Group Dynamics’ and ‘The Role of Language in the International Classroom’ looked very appealing. 

Teacher as host: Fostering student agency and awareness

In the manner of a good host, Maha invites us to always consider who may be excluded or disempowered by any choices which we make in the classroom. In the EAP classroom, this exercise can be taken further, with students themselves being encouraged to reflect on how ways in which academic arguments and texts are constructed are inclusive or exclusive to different readers. This theme was developed in Sanchia Rodrigues’ session entitled Challenging Colonial Legacies in EAP: Lessons and Limitations from a Pre-Undergraduate Programme. Sanchia described how she used the Academic Reading Circle model (Seburn, 2016) with her pre-undergraduate programme students to encourage them to challenge Anglocentrism in academic writing by identifying contextual references in the text and unpicking what assumptions are made through these about the expected reader, and deducing which readers may be excluded or marginalised as a result. This gave a useful insight into how the ARC model can be implemented to direct students’ attention to Anglo- or Euro-centric writing practices and to critically examine their implications for different readers.

This theme of fostering student agency by encouraging them to uncover and question underlying systems and power structures was also picked up in Symposium 2, entitled Facing the Internationalisation Challenge with Agency: The Pedagogical Work of the Laboratory of Academic Literacy (LLAC), by Dr Marilia Ferreira, Gabriella Pavesi and Daniela Cleusa Carvalho from the Universidade de Sao Paulo. They outlined how staff at the LLAC work to facilitate the development of students’ agency both through helping students become more aware of rhetorical structures at the levels of sentence and genre (Hyland, 2009; Swales & Feak, 2012) but also by questioning the activity of academic knowledge production and dissemination of which these academic conventions are a part (Engstrom, 2015). Marilia showed that, by implementing principles of Paulo Freire’s Critical Pedagogy and encouraging students not only to notice but also to question academic rules and conventions, students are able to implement both theoretical and critical thinking with agency to make more informed choices in their academic writing.

The concept of student agency and also that of equitable community building were further scrutinised by Dr Steve Brown and Dr Tomasz John in their paper entitled Navigating No-Man’s Land: Facilitating the Transition of International Scholars towards a PhD Study (also, lockdown!). Reporting on the insights from a case study investigating the transition international doctoral students navigate through when first starting their PhD journeys, the speakers gave us some thought-provoking insights into the concepts of Trans-National Education, the myth of the “international student” and the role of EAP in doctoral education. They proposed that, when designing a fit-for-purpose doctoral induction programme with an EAP component, there are different interpretations of the role and purpose of EAP that can lead to very different outcomes. Programmes concerned primarily with repairing the linguistic “deficits” of students follow an indoctrinatory model that seeks to assimilate international students into the current, hegemonic structures of the international academy. It is difficult to see how this model can allow international students to make any meaningful contribution to knowledge, as they are only valued for their ability to reproduce what is already deemed “acceptable”. Alternatively, a focus on individual empowerment may allow students on EAP programmes to achieve greater success within the current structures, but this model still fails to engage with systemic injustices and power imbalances. A third approach, however, seeks to emancipate international students from their deficit positions by addressing structural inequities through a model of inclusion, rather than one of integration. These different educational approaches – indoctrination, empowerment and emancipation – and their corresponding outcomes of assimilation, integration and inclusion, are presented in an ‘Emancipation Continuum’ (Brown 2021, forthcoming), which is offered as an analytical framework for exploring the emancipatory impact of ESOL on migrant communities. Steve and Tomasz proposed that a similar framework can be applied to EAP programmes to explore the extent to which they promote or restrict the freedoms of international students to contribute meaningfully to the international academy. 

The above reasoning and theoretical frameworks were taken into account when designing the content of the 12-week long intensive doctoral induction programme. What emerged from Steve and Tomasz’s study was that the doctoral students became ‘border crossers’ as they engaged in an exploration of their own history and to reach an understanding of self and their own culture in relation to others in the new Western context. By the same token, the students actively challenged the stereotypical label of international students by adapting to the new role of ‘transformative intellectuals’ who challenged themselves to cross the imposed barriers on the borders of disciplines and cultures (Giroux, 1992, 15). 

Steve and Tomasz reported that the students benefited from the DIP, as the programme allowed for experimentation within a new, fit-for-purpose curriculum, effectively fuelling creative explorations across these ideological borders. Students appreciated that the programme embraced the knowledge they brought with them, effectively accommodating their particular cultural trajectories by de-centring ownership of knowledge through criticality and reflection on their PhD proposals. Students also started to regard uncritical acceptance of existing hegemony as a symptom of deference; as their own critical thinking skills developed, they became increasingly interested in using their own praxis as researchers to disrupt the status quo rather than to comply with it as “this attitudinal shift implied that the programme had some kind of emancipatory impact, allowing students’ perspectives to become included in wider academic discourse” (Brown and John, 2022). 

The papers outlined above indicate that approaches which foster student agency, critical awareness and questioning and disruption of existing hegemonies can and have been used successfully in different EAP contexts … but, coming back to the teacher-as-host analogy, it is the role of the teacher to first lay the groundwork and then invite students to bring different perspectives and ways of relating into their academic engagement.

Conclusion

It has been the intention of this blog post to identify social justice related strands running through the BALEAP 2021 conference, and to weave these together in a way in which resonances between different sessions can be highlighted. As can be seen just from insights gained from the sample of sessions explored in this piece, there is much exciting SJ-informed work being conducted and developed in our field at the moment, much of which reinforces the benefits of employing a pedagogy of equity and care.

Of course, we are also mindful that there were some talks that took a cautionary approach to the concept of pedagogies of care. For example in Dr. Alex Ding and Bee Bond’s session entitled What Do Considerations of Pedagogy Tell Us About the Profession and the Practitioner?, a suggestion was made that “we need to move away from a pedagogy of care that is only a pedagogy of care … if it’s caring for students but without a focus on learning, without a focus on knowledge”. This assertion appears to overlook the theoretical underpinnings of pedagogies of care promoted by scholars such as Paulo Freire, bell hooks and Henry A Giroux. Central to their work is that care is an essential element of creating the conditions for holistic and transformative learning and teaching. Indeed, these pedagogical principles can assist both students and teachers to: 

  • determine what and whose knowledge is deemed worthy of study the first place

  • demystify and critique the existing hegemonies of their disciplines and beyond

  • determine what languages and language variants are permitted in the classroom and deemed worthy to be studied

  • dictate who has the right to speak and be heard

  • determine who is able to access and benefit from learning in the first place. 

Teachers care deeply about students’ learning, and it is this deep care that drives socially oriented educators to search for ways to recognise and meet a wide range of students’ needs, and by doing so they do not need to reduce academic rigour or focus; on the contrary, they create a equitable space where students can develop their knowledge and skills in order to challenge rather than maintain the status quo of social and environmental inequalities. We see this as fundamental to critically engaged EAP learning, teaching, curriculum and assessment – not an optional add-on.

It is clear that there are more discussions to be had about conceptualisations of social justice praxis (including a pedagogy of equitable care) in our field, and what might and might not be regarded as falling under the SJ umbrella. A move is currently being made to investigate the range of conceptualisations of SJ in our field by SJ SIG committee members Dr Weronika Fernando, Iwona Winiarska-Pringle and Jo Kukuczka. They reported on their initial findings in their session entitled Social Justice and classroom practices: towards an EAP pedagogy of transformation and empowerment, revealing a richness and complexity in tutors’ understanding of, and employment of, SJ-informed pedagogical principles in the EAP classroom. Further expansion on the results of this study will be shared in their forthcoming paper, but, in the meantime …

… we’d love to hear from you!

If you’d like to join the conversation about the SJ strands running through the BALEAP conference and their implications for EAP pedagogies, please share your thoughts on our Google JamBoard. We’re very aware that we haven’t been able to capture all possible SJ-related insights from the conference, so we invite you to share any that we’ve missed on the JamBoard (click here) or simply add your thoughts in the comments section under this blog entry. We’re also aware that, while this piece has woven together different SJ insights, it hasn’t critiqued them fully – please feel free to add critical perspectives too.

References

Bali, M. (2015) Pedagogy of Care – Gone Massive, Hybrid Pedagogy, 20 April. Available at: https://hybridpedagogy.org/pedagogy-of-care-gone-massive/

Bali, M. & Zamora, M. (2020) Equitable Emergence: Telling the Story of Equity Unbound in the Open. Open Education Conference, 10 Nov, online. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEeZvM6_8UE 

Brown, S. (forthcoming), The Emancipation Continuum: Exploring the Role of ESOL (English for Speaker of Other Languages) in the Settlement of Immigrants. British Journal of Sociology of Education (Volume tbc). 

Brown, S. and John, T. (2022), Navigating No-Man’s Land: Facilitating the Transition of International Scholars towards a PhD Study at a Scottish University (also lockdown!). In Lock, D. (Ed.), BORDERLANDS: THE INTERNATIONALISATION OF HIGHER EDUCATION TEACHING PRACTICES, Springer

Creese, A. and Blackledge, A. 2015. Translanguaging and identity in educational settings. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 35: pp. 20-35.

Engstrom, Y. (2015). Learning by expanding (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Fallout, J. (2016). The Dynamics of Past Selves in Language Learning and Well-Being. In: P.D. MacIntyre, T. Gregersen and S. Mercer (eds). Positive Psychology in SLA. Bristol, UK. Multilingual Matters, 112-129.

Giroux, H. (1992). Border crossings: Cultural workers and the politics of education. New York, NY: Routledge. 

Hyland, K (2009). Academic discourse: English in a global context. Continuum.

Jenkins, J. and Wingate, U. (2015). ‘Staff and Students’ Perceptions of English Language Policies in ‘International’ Universities: A Case Study from the UK.’

Khuder, B., & Petrić, B. (2020). Academic socialisation through collaboration: Textual interventions in supporting exiled scholars’ academic literacies development. Education and Conflict Review , 3, 24-28.

Seburn, T. (2016) Academic reading circles. Createspace Independent Publishing Platform.

Swales, J.M. & Feak, C.B. (2012). Academic writing for graduate students: Essential tasks as skills (3rd ed.). University of Michigan Press.

FUSION – taking positive steps to fight precarity

Paul Breen 

Imagine that EAP were a country, not a subject or a discipline. Where would it sit upon the map of higher education? Would it be an island or somewhere on the edges of the landlocked continent that is academia? Maybe it would be like Korea, an archipelago hanging beneath the udders of the great cash cow that China has become. 

Whatever it is, whether Iceland or Madagascar, the island of EAP would have quite a struggle to find a single national identity. Within our broad church, we have people working within mainstream academia, with private providers, with others and even on their own. We are a fusion of backgrounds, interests, ambitions, travels, qualifications and styles. Probably, though, there are a few common features that define us. We are passionate about language and education. We also have aspirations to make a difference to the lives of our students and to see a greater recognition of the important role we play in this area. 

Within many universities, pedagogy, interactivity, social justice, affect, wellbeing, internationalisation, inclusivity and diversity are buzz words of the moment. And here we stand in the shadows, practitioners of things long before they become fashionable. They have been a feature of our work for decades. We’re almost a Claudette Colvin of modern pedagogic history, the blacksmiths who gave shape to Jeremy Harmer’s horseshoe seating formations and Jane Arnold’s ideas about affect. Despite that, we sometimes inhabit a secondary space in the world of universities as these wheels are reinvented all around us by others who often attain the status of guru. And yet we had these things in our classrooms in their pigtails, braces and short trousers.   

But what is the reason for this? Is it the perception that academia has of language teaching in general and English teaching most specifically? Although EAP staff are not alone in experiencing casualisation, there is an incredibly high amount of it considering the revenue we generate. Though a significant number of us are permanent, the profession is a precarious one for many teachers. Even the etymology of that word ‘precarious’ captures a sense of many people’s conditions. 

Precariousness  as a term originates from Latin, referring to the act of praying or asking for favours. Those who live in states of precarity are dependent upon the will of others in higher positions. As in the origins of the word, around this time of year, for example, many EAP teachers must feel as if their fate is in the hands of the Gods or at best those who occupy such positions of power that can make or break people’s lives. 

This is not actually a good state for so many people to be in and goes against so many of the values that today’s universities espouse. Casualised labour leaves people in a feeling of being in a permanent underclass, like in that Korean film Parasite. Without spoiling that story for anyone, the parasite therein does not refer to the people at the bottom of society. It refers to the rich feeding off the labour of those below them. That, though, is not to be taken as a direct comparison with universities, especially in the age of Covid-19 when purse strings are being tightened and the future is unclear for everyone. 

The point I am making is that it can sometimes feel as if the labour of EAP teaching is undervalued. Paradoxically that comes at a time when universities seem ever more interested in professional development. In recent years, learning development centres have proliferated. Many of these exist to promote some of the very ideas that have been commonplace in English Language pedagogy for decades. This has led to some EAP practitioners crossing over into areas of academic development and teacher education. Yet still, there is a lot of work to be done in highlighting the contributions that Academic English staff can make to key areas of focus in the wider university. 

Possibly, this is because universities are hierarchical places. A PhD or an Educational Doctorate is traditionally seen as the measure of people’s academic value. That is not to say that either of these make someone a better teacher. What they do is to give us greater academic kudos in the higher educational environment. For various reasons EAP doesn’t always have this ladder of development shaped by academic qualification alone. Historically we have been estranged from common HE practices in terms of the way that people progress into positions of greater authority.  

Those with MA or DELTA qualifications can be found in positions of power whilst others with a PhD could end up in private sector roles for which they are then stigmatised. To those looking in from the outside, that creates an impression which is problematic in the long term. It feeds a perception of us not being as qualified as other academics. Furthermore, if academia thinks of our people at the top as being lesser, then the perception of those at the bottom will be incrementally worse. I’ve been in situations where I’ve spoken to senior managers in universities who are surprised that anyone with a PhD might teach on a pre-sessional.

That happens, though, because of the precarious nature of the field that people want to work in. I say want to rather than choose to because our field attracts people with a genuine vocation for educating others. Unfortunately if you want a career in a university it probably isn’t enough just to teach. There are a lot of truisms that have come into EAP from the TEFL world. We are language experts and they are subject expertsWe understand studentsWe care about our studentsWe know our students. These are ideas about ELT expertise shaped by the notion of reaching a plateau of development beyond which there is no need to travel. We cannot stay trapped in our own islands and echo chambers. 

In the university environment we do have to travel the extra mile, not in terms of the work we do but in promoting that work within academia. Though our teaching is admirable, universities deal in the currency of scholarship. That’s why we need to show that we can be at the forefront of both scholarship and research. That is happening but there is also a world of difference in those very talented people amongst us who have major publications in the field and the more silent minority who don’t. Indeed this blog post is more for the latter than the former.  

Even if we do not have published research and don’t identify as traditional academics, we really need to beat the drum of scholarship at every opportunity. There is a lot of talk about research-informed teaching and teaching-informed research but the scholarship variants of that are just as important. On the BALEAP forum several examples have been given recently of how this is an important part of contexts where in-sessional courses are being run in a discipline-specific manner.  

There is a lot of disciplinary collaboration taking place and this is not just happening on in-sessional courses. Sometimes it can feel as if, within the island of EAP, pre- and in-sessional courses are like Cyprus or Ireland, when actually they should be more of a New Zealand. After all, it is on pre-sessional courses that there is often a much greater precarity. I imagine that for many teachers this literally does involve a lot of praying over student numbers, possible roles and returned emails. 

Pre-sessional courses are a double-edged sword though. Work proliferates on them because of university business models. Since it does so, there is a disproportionate demand for EAP teachers in the summer when we become the educational world’s equivalent of The Isle of Man. We fill up with tourists for a couple of months and then the harsh winter comes where it’s back to a land of fewer permanent residents.  

This also means that many people’s introduction to EAP is in a time of chaos with very little emphasis on professional development and minimal interaction with regular staff. This creates what a teacher-educator friend of mine calls a workforce of people who have been dipping in and out of pre-sessional courses for 20 years but instead of 20 years of experience, have 1 year of experience repeated 20 times. That again is the fault of employment practices and not individuals. 

Perhaps as I have suggested elsewhere on the BALEAP discussion forum there is a need for an employment code of practice within EAP that we have to persuade our institutions to adopt so that everything is ethical, equitable and an act of putting into practice the values that universities claim to espouse. We need to do more showcasing of what we bring to higher education and to collaborate more across disciplines, putting ourselves out there as equal partners deserving of equal stature.  

We also need to sell ourselves as citizens of a common island, whether teacher or researcher, permanent or part-time, public or private, native speaker or non-native speaking teacher. It is our diversity as a profession that helps define us. That alone might not be enough to change perceptions and perspectives of those around us. But we should at least aspire to it, so that among the first of many moves towards social justice in EAP, nobody’s worth as a teacher or a person is determined by their contract type. To quote the great Paul Simon in a paraphrase of someone else, every time we see a colleague in precarity we really ought to think ‘there but for the grace of you go I.’ 

About the author

Dr. Paul Breen (@CharltonMen on Twitter) is originally from Ireland and now working as a Senior Lecturer at The University of Westminster where he runs and teaches courses in the areas of English for Academic Purposes, TESOL and Linguistics. He is also involved in teacher development and has written on this subject, as well as current affairs. He is the author of Developing Educators for the Digital Age which is available to download for free in open access format. 

Life Lessons from Refugees: Glimpse into a teacher’s diary

– Julie Umarova –

Podcast version of this post available here

No one leaves home unless

home is the mouth of a shark

you only run for the border

when you see the whole city running as well

you have to understand,

that no one puts their children in a boat

unless the water is safer than the land…

‘Home’ by Warsan Shire

A shiver runs up my spine whenever I read these lines. I wish these words were from a fantasy book. After reading them over and over again I can’t help but think, what if it were my child and me in that boat? It is unimaginable and unthinkable what might go through a mother’s mind, when her child’s life is at the brink of a cliff and can be cut short with a slam of a wave. We may feel sorry for their sufferings and carry on with our daily lives with the words ‘I wish I could help’. 

But maybe we can help. As teachers, one tangible way in which we can provide support to refugees is through volunteering to teach language classes, and, to this end, I recently wrote a blog post entitled Online Classes as a Remedy for Loneliness and Isolation during COVID-19based on my own experiences of teaching such classes. In that blog post I reported on our students’ responses and feelings towards the Leicester City of Sanctuary’s online ESOL classes. Those classes were offered in co-operation with the University of Leicester. As that blog post received a good deal of interest, I thought it would be useful to write this blog post exploring what volunteering with refugees has done for me. This short journey through my diary will aim to show how kind, generous, loving and caring they are and how by embracing them you can experience boundless happiness and love. Not only can you get borderless love in return, but they will cover you with the wings of kindness and generosity. They can pass on their wisdom of being compassionate and empathetic to human beings during the most trying times. They can teach you about never losing hope and faith and being resilient and motivated fighters when life hits you hard. Last but not least, they will inspire and infect you with the humanity’s highest and most valuable qualities such as altruism, giving and selflessness. As Lawson (1998) once wrote: ‘If you have no time to volunteer then you are missing the greatest gift in life: happiness… by  giving yourself to others  you will receive back more happiness, health, a sense of purpose in life, and personal growth’.

In addition to the above incentive for volunteering, Miliband (2017) emphasises that we also have a responsibility to help refugees in need: 

‘The refugee crisis is not just about ‘them’; it is also about ‘us’ – what we, living in far greater comfort, stand for and how we see our places in the world. It is a test of our character, not just our policies. Pass the test, and we rescue ourselves and our values as well as refugees and their lives’

So, we can view this humanitarian crisis as not only being about ‘them’ but about ‘us’ – who we are and what we stand for. Similarly, when Albert Einstein was forced to flee to the United States in October 1933 he said: ‘I’m almost ashamed to be living in such peace while the rest struggle and suffer’. I can feel his frustration and pain in these lines. Refugees are ordinary people like you and me, who have lost everything. They’ve left their entire lives behind, often with just the clothes on their backs. They didn’t choose to leave their homes; they were forced to flee their homelands and are the victims of human rights violations. As Anju, an asylum seeker, writes: ‘We did not come here for a better life. We had a better life. If there was security in my country for minorities, we would not be here. We are suffering here more then there, but at least our lives aren’t in danger’ (Refugee Action, 2020). Anju’s story is just one example of that of hundreds and thousands of refugees who are forced to flee their homes because of war and persecution. In light of lived experience of people such as Anju, in her touching book Europe and the Refugee Crisis, Trix (2018) writes: ‘Why can’t we be receptive to people of significantly different backgrounds? Can we work to integrate new refugees into our societies? Can we be inclusive in these trying times?’. Indeed, in the words of Julia, a Macedonian worker in a mother and young children’s refugee camp, ‘If you put out one finger of love, you get ten fingers back’ (Trix, 2018). 

My personal journey into volunteering, into doing something to help refugees feel welcome and included in our society, was prompted by an inspirational woman. Her name was Aliya.  Aliya and her family were welcomed in the UK after the devastating consequences of the conflicts in Syria. We live in the same community. She was a very enthusiastic and kind-hearted woman and always volunteered herself in the community and school activities. You could see her planting trees or shrubs on community gatherings, you could spot her planting bulbs and helping clean up leaves on the school grounds in the fall. She was always there for her community which welcomed her. Aliya’s devotion and love for her new community inspired me to get into voluntary teaching and I started helping refugees at a community centre with English classes. So, this was the beginning of the most rewarding and most eye-opening experience of my life. 

I’ve been closely working with refugees since September 2019, but the life lessons they taught me in this short period of time is priceless and worth a decade. Not only have they become my friends, but my sisters and brothers. It would be no exaggeration to say that I started to feel happier and more fulfilled as soon as I started working with them. Every single one of us can help. It may be a simple act of kindness such as a warm smile and kind word whenever we encounter them in the streets. It may be an hour from your life in which you could volunteer in local centres which welcome and supports refugees. It maybe just one hour from your life but for them it will be a ray of hope and love which can heal their wounds, and most of all help them feel accepted and integrate into the new society. In her inspirational book The Giving Way to Happiness, Santi recounts lots of examples from people’s lives who were able to find purpose, discover  their calling, heal from their wounds, experience true love and find fulfilment beyond material success through volunteering’ (Santi, 2016).

As I can very much relate to this, and I thought it’s my duty to share these beautiful stories from my daily work with refugees. I do hope that these stories will encourage and inspire more people to get into volunteering. 

Kindness and Generosity

Aisha and Ehsaan

I still remember when I met Aisha and Ehsaan for the first time in late autumn 2019. They were a newly arrived young Syrian couple. They didn’t speak any English and their eldest child was about to start reception. Their eyes were full of excitement and anticipation but at the same time full of questions, uncertainties and worries. These worries were mainly related to the fact that they didn’t speak any English. The numbers around the Syrian refugee crisis are well known – as of May 2016, more than 50% of the population of Syria had been displaced (Parekh, 2017). In Counseling Refugees, Bemak (2003) emphasizes the fact that their abrupt departure means refugees are not ready psychologically and pragmatically for rapid movement and transition. He goes on to state, once they arrive in a host country one of the biggest obstacles for adult refugees are language barriers and at this stage, unfortunately, children can lose hope and respect for their parents. He refers to a very saddening story of how a refugee dad who was a leader in his country started crying uncontrollably and turned into a vegetable (Bemak, 2003). That dad viewed himself as a failure for not being able to guide and support his children in a completely new environment, where people spoke a different language. As Crowther (2019) points out, refugees not only try to rebuild their lives in an unfamiliar society, but they also wish to restore their dignity and a sense of pride and positive identity. Further, she adds, some of them may cope fine without our help, but they will cope better and rebuild a decent life faster with an extra hand (Crowther, 2019).

I started visiting Aisha and Ehsaan three days a week for English classes. As days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, I started to grow attached to this wonderful family. Due to personal circumstances, I wasn’t driving at that time and I would have to take a train and then a bus to get there. Aisha would always greet me with a warm smile and a cup of hot tea with biscuits, and sometimes with delicious homemade soups. She would always make sure that I was warm, fed and comfortable before starting our classes. I do remember one particular day, when my bus was delayed… It was a cold winter’s day and by the time I reached their house I was freezing cold. Upon entering our study room, I felt a stinging cold under my feet. I knew that their marble under-floor heating wasn’t working right away. Aisha instantly realised that my feet were cold and took her single pair of wool slippers off and urged me to wear them. I was astounded by her selflessness and concern for my health. She put my health before her own health. It is astonishing that refugees who have left all their possessions and belongings back in their homes are ready to give away their few possessions so readily. After our classes I used to rush to catch my bus and Ehsaan who worked as a chef back in his home country would always put his delicious home-made wraps into my bag and they would both urge me to eat  them on my way back home on the bus. I would usually politely decline their generosity, but they would insist that it would make them happy. There are no words which could describe how deeply I was touched and emotionally affected by this family’s kindness and generosity. These are people who were forced to flee their homelands and lost their loved ones to unspeakable conflicts and war, and yet they didn’t lose their humanity, kind-heartedness and tenderness towards the outside world. 

Resilience and Motivation

Sufia and Habib

Sufia and I met each other for the first time in late March 2020. This was the beginning of one of the most challenging and unprecedented times in the history of humanity – the COVID-19 pandemic. All around the world people were urged to self-isolate with immediate effect. Newspaper headlines were bursting with grim forecasts for the upcoming months. This immediate upheaval meant people were not prepared, neither physically nor psychologically, for these drastic changes. Unfortunately, refugees were in a group of some of the most vulnerable and unprepared people.

Sufia and her children, who were forced to flee their home country for their lives, were cruelly separated from her husband, from her ‘soul’ as she once told me, during this journey. From the very first moment I met her I was inspired by her strong will, resilience and motivation to thrive. She and her children went through a great number of ordeals since the beginning of the pandemic. Refugees struggle to meet their daily needs with the little amount of money they are entitled to. Unfortunately, for Sufia’s family the severity of their situation escalated during the pandemic. Sufia described with sadness how her children would wake up from hunger in the middle of the night and ask for food. She recounted her daily visits to local food banks so she could put something on their plates and keep her children fed and warm. Sadly, there were even times when she would come back empty handed. The food banks are critical for many of society’s most vulnerable and this includes refugees and asylum seekers. Regrettably, the pandemic has taken its toll even on the food banks. Some food banks have suffered through a lack of donations and a falling number of volunteers during the pandemic (UNHCR UK, 2020). As Helen Barnard puts it: ‘It’s simply not right that so many more people are having to turn to food banks because they are unable to meet their basic costs. We all want to help each other through this storm, but families with children are being particularly hard hit and do not have the lifeline they need to stay afloat’ (The Trussell Trust, 2020). However, these challenging times didn’t break her; they made her even stronger. Sufia proved to herself and her children that she is physically and mentally resilient and managed to stay motivated throughout the pandemic. Not only she has been shielding her children from hunger, but she has convinced herself that this hardship is temporary, and she should keep working hard. She has been attending Leicester City Sanctuary’s online classes throughout the pandemic and hasn’t missed even a single lesson. Sufia’s strong will to never give up even during the most challenging times can be explained with Bemak’s (2003) observation in Counseling Refugees. He writes that ‘refugees may be considered a financial burden’ to society. Sufia’s tireless effort and strong will can be viewed as an example that she wants to express her gratitude and pay back to the country which provided her with a safe shelter. Moreover, she told me on numerous occasions how she is grateful and owes her and her children’s lives to this country. She worked as a teacher back in her home country and she has a strong desire to pay back her community for welcoming her and her family.

I was introduced to Sufia’s husband Habib (whom she was separated from) in early August 2020. The first thing which I noticed about him was his beautiful and warm smile. His eyes were full of a thirst to learn. He started attending our online English classes. It was not long before I realised how my admiration for him started to grow. I had immense respect for his strong will and motivation to learn in the most uncomfortable and challenging conditions. He would join my classes from his phone, sitting on a single chair in his bedroom. His bedroom was bare with just a single chair and a bed. Even though I loved our classes with him there would always be sadness at the back of my mind. Unfortunately, this sadness turned into despair as the days got colder and shorter. Once, in late November he joined my class from the street. He was wearing a hat and a scarf and was wrapped up tightly in his coat. To my bewildered inquiry as to why he was outside, he replied that, unfortunately, he could no longer access wi-fi from his flat. I was numb for a few seconds not knowing what to say, but he cheeringly carried on and said that he still wanted to have our classes, even on the street. Unfortunately, we had to temporarily stop our classes from the middle of December, as the days got much colder and greyer and rainier. 

Words are not enough to describe my admiration and tender feelings towards him. Even though he was trying to overcome the obstacles in his way with optimism and positivity, it was emotionally difficult for me. It was heart-wrenching to see him sitting next to a building’s cold wall in a windy and people-less street. It was painful to see how his left hand was getting cold and numb from holding his phone up, as he doesn’t have his right arm and has to rely only on his left one. Unfortunately, whenever I picture him in the street it reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s sad lines: ‘Places we slept as children: they warm us in the memory’ (What you need to be warm? Poem by Neil Gaiman). It should be a daily reminder for everyone that education is a basic human right, enshrined in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 1951 Refugee Convention. Education protects refugee children and youth from forced recruitment, child labour and sexual exploitation. Education empowers refugees by giving them the knowledge and skills to live productive, fulfilling and independent lives. Finally, education enlightens refugees, enabling them to learn about themselves and the world around them, while striving to rebuild their lives and communities (UNHCR, 2020).

Altruism and Giving

Daniyal, Malika, Layan

I was lucky to meet Daniyal, Mailka and Layan when I was helping at a centre which welcomed and helped refugees to integrate into British society. They were the most cheerful and warm group of friends I’ve ever met. While interacting with them I was able to witness humanity’s highest qualities like trust, care, empathy and giving. Even though my task was to help them and provide assistance whenever needed, actually it was them who were sharing their wisdom and knowledge with me. As soon as I met them, they instantly welcomed me into their circle and made me feel warm and comfortable. I usually spent two days a week at the centre. Whenever, I was there, refugees and asylum seekers would fill up the centre with laughter and joy. I absolutely loved my time over there; it seemed like even the walls could feel their positivity and optimism. 

One day I was in a rush and left my packed lunch at home. When it was lunch time, I stayed in the classroom with an excuse that I wasn’t hungry. All students left for the kitchen and after a few more minutes Malika, Daniyal and Layan came back and begged me to join them. I couldn’t decline their polite request. From the outside it may look like a simple act of food sharing; however, these refugees come from cultures where food sharing is used to express love, affection and gratitude to people. In her insightful book Refugees and Asylum Seekers, Berthold highlights how ‘food makes people connect with each other. It connects people to different cultures who might not otherwise have connected’ (Berthold, 2019). It was not only on that occasion that I was invited to join them. They would always bring in delicious homemade treats to share with everyone at the centre. It was not long before I realised that these refugees had created a big and loving community where everyone felt accepted and appreciated. Most of all it gave everyone a sense of belonging. As O’Donohue (2000) beautifully puts it:

‘The hunger to belong is at the heart of our nature. Cut off from others, we atrophy and turn in on ourselves. The sense of belonging is the natural balance of our lives… There is some innocent childlike side to the human heart that is always deeply hurt when we are excluded… When we become isolated, we are prone to being damaged’.

Not only did they teach me about giving and being generous, but also about looking after our fellow beings no matter who they are, no matter which culture, religion, race or ethnicity they belong to. On one occasion it was raining heavily, and I didn’t have my umbrella with me. It would usually take me 20 minutes to walk to the nearest bus stop. As the students were leaving for home, Malika approached me and earnestly offered me her umbrella, even though she didn’t have anything to protect herself from the rain… That day we walked to the bus stop together. Malika made her way back home only after making sure I was dry and safe at the bus stop. How can one not accept and love people who are so loving and caring to their fellow beings? In an Unsafe Haven, Jarrar writes: ‘The refugees are like shadows… colourless and in some way invisible to everyone else’ (Jarrar, An Unsafe Heaven, 2016). Why don’t we come together and show that they are visible, that they are heard and accepted, and most of all that they add all the colours of the rainbow to our daily lives? As Ban Ki-moon once said: ‘Refugees are people like anyone else, like you and me. They led ordinary lives before becoming displaced, and their biggest dream is to be able to live normally again.’ (Ban Ki-moon, 2015) 

Conclusion

‘I never forgot that I live in the community, and I never forgot the care and refuge I got from my community’.

These are the words of Hamid, an inspirational asylum seeker who started a food bank for refugees and other vulnerable people in his community, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. He delivered food parcels on his bicycle daily to the various vulnerable people. Hamid’s story is heart-melting and it reflects refugees’ feelings of gratitude towards communities which welcome and provide them with a safe haven when their lives are in danger and human rights are violated. Refugees are victims of persecution who have been deprived of their membership of a political community. In his eloquently written book What Do We Owe to Refugees?, Owen debates that everyone has a duty to rescue refugees and provide them with shelter. (Owen, 2020). Unfortunately, Berthold gives a memorable example and writes that: ‘The public often assumes that when things are good, we need to build wall to keep people out’ (Berthold, 2019). She goes on to state that in fact most refugees want to return to their home country, but in cases such as Syria where return is unlikely it is important to welcome refugees. As refugees come from non-western cultures, they are more prone to the feelings of loneliness and isolation. Their journey into adaptation is usually filled with lots of anxieties, fears and uncertainties; and if you are an English teacher, not only you can help to make this journey much smoother and faster, but less lonely for them. By giving an hour from your life, you will receive boundless love and care, and experience unexplainable warmth and tenderness from them. By helping them and treating them as equals – regular human beings – we will be contributing to creating a healthier and stronger society.

References

Bemak, F., Chi-Ying Chung, R., Pedersen, P. 2003. Counseling Refugees: A Psychosocial Approach to Innovative Multicultural Interventions. Greenwood: London, UK

Berthold, S., Libal, K. 2019. Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Interdisciplinary and Comparative Perspectives. Praeger: California, USA

Crowther, S. 2019. Working with Asylum Seekers and Refugees: What to do, What not to do and How to Help. Jessica Kingsley: London, UK

International Rescue Committee (2017). ‘Albert Einstein’s legacy as a refugee’. Available at: https://www.rescue-uk.org/article/albert-einsteins-legacy-refugee

(accessed 10 November 2020)

Jarrar, N. 2016. ‘An Unsafe Haven’. Harper Collins: London, UK

Lawson, D. 1998. Volunteering: 101 Ways You Can Improve the World and Your Life. Alti Publishing: USA

Miliband, D. 2017. Rescue: Refugees and the Political Crisis of Our Time. Simon & Schuster/ Ted Books

Mominul, H. (2020). ‘I Started A Food Bank for Refugees Like Me Going Hungry in this Pandemic’. Available at: https://refugeeweek.org.uk/news/refugee-week-in-the-media/ (accessed 15 November 2020)

O’Donohue, J. 2000. Eternal Echoes: Exploring Our Hunger to Belong. Transworld: London, UK

Owen, D. 2020. What Do We Owe to Refugees? Polity Press: Oxford, UK

Parekh, S. 2017. Refugees and the Ethics of Forced Displacement. Routledge: New York, USA

Refugee Action (2020). ‘I’m qualified carer seeking asylum: Banning me from working helps nobody’. Available at: https://www.refugee-action.org.uk/lift-the-ban-anjus-story/  (accessed 22 November 2020)

Santi, J. 2016. The Giving Way to Happiness: Stories and Science Behind the Life-Changing Power of Giving. Penguin: New York, USA

The Trussell Trust (2020). ‘Food banks report record spike in need as coalition of anti-poverty charities call for strong lifeline to be thrown to anyone who needs it’. Available at: https://www.trusselltrust.org/2020/05/01/coalition-call/ (accessed 20 December 2020)

Trix, F. 2018. Europe and the Refugee Crisis: Local Responses to Migrants. Bloomsbury: London, UK

UNHCR UK (2020). ‘Help Keep Refugees warm with Neil Gaiman’. Available at: https://www.unhcr.org/draw-for-refugees/  (accessed 7 December 2020)

UNHCR UK (2020). ‘People in the UK are rallying round to protect community members during the Covid 19 crisis’. Available at: https://www.unhcr.org/uk/news/stories/2020/3/5e7e1d4b4/this-week-in-the-uk-communities-rally-round-to-help-the-vulnerable.html  (accessed 5 November 2020)

UNHCR UK (2020). ‘Coming Together for Refugee Education: Education Report 2020’. Available at: https://www.unhcr.org/5f4f9a2b4  (accessed 10 November 2020)

 Verme, P., Gigliarano, Ch., Wieser, C., Hedlund, K., Petzoldt, M., Santacroce., M. 2015. The Welfare of Syrian Refugees: Evidence from Jordan and Lebanon. World Bank: Washington, USA

About the author

Julie Umarova is an independent ESOL/EFL Tutor. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in English Philology, and a Master’s Degree in English from the University of Loughborough. She has worked with different age range groups, starting with primary school children and university students. She has been volunteering/working closely with refugees at the University of Leicester, through Leicester City of Sanctuary, since September 2019. She feels that working with refugees has been an eye-opening experience and one of the most rewarding things that she has done in her life.