How We Take Action

Social Justice in PK-16 Language Classrooms

Edited by:
Kelly Frances Davidson, Valdosta State University
Stacey Margarita Johnson, Vanderbilt University
L. J. Randolph Jr., University of Wisconsin-Madison

A volume in the series: Contemporary Language Education. Editor(s): Terry Osborn, University of South Florida.

Published 2023

How We Take Action brings together practical examples of social justice in language education from a wide range of contexts. Many language teachers have a desire to teach in justice-oriented ways, but perhaps also feel frustration at how hard it is to teach in ways that we did not experience ourselves as learners and have not observed as colleagues. As a profession, we need more ideas, more examples, and wider networks of allies in this work. This book includes the work of 59 different authors including teachers and researchers at every level from Pre-K to postsecondary, representing different backgrounds, languages, and approaches to classroom practice.

Organized into three sections, some of the chapters in this collection report on classroom research while others focus on key practices and experiences. Section I is entitled Inclusive and Empowering Classrooms. In this section authors take a critical approach to classroom practices by breaking with the status quo or creating spaces where students experience safety, access, and empowerment in language learning experiences. Section II, Integration of Critical Topics, addresses a variety of ways teachers can incorporate justice-oriented pedagogies in day-to-day instructional experiences. Social justice does not happen haphazardly; it requires careful, critical examination of instructional practices and intentional planning as instructors hope to enact change. Section III, Activism and Community Engagement, explores how teachers can empower students to become agents for positive change through the study of activism and constructive community engagement programs at local and global levels.

"This volume brings an important diversity of voices, contexts, and collaborations to the ongoing conversations about social justice in language education. University experts in social justice in language education and nationally celebrated K-12 language teachers are included along with experienced practitioners whose voices are often not prioritized in scholarship. The volume serves as an invitation to the reader to engage, reflect, consider, and examine different approaches to teaching for social justice. Chapters bring in feminist pedagogies, critical pedagogies, LGBTQ affirming pedagogies, anti-bias and anti-racist approaches, decolonial lenses, critical media literacies, and more Everyone who picks up this volume will find at least one piece that immediately resonates with them, and then will be inevitably drawn in to the other engaging and thoughtful chapters." — Pamela M. Wesely, The University of Iowa

"This book is a must-read for those interested in social justice in language education. The range of authors, topics, languages, institutional contexts, and pedagogies is staggeringly impressive and will provide any reader with ideas and inspiration for taking action in and out of the language classroom." — Kate Paesani, University of Minnesota

"This excellent volume, replete with thoroughly researched strategies for promoting social justice in PK-16 world language instruction, could not have come at a more critical time in the United States when anti-democratic forces are mobilizing against equity and justice-oriented education. We in the field of language education are very fortunate to have this collection of work from more than 50 language learning scholars and practitioners, who remind us that making our classrooms more equitable, inclusive, and grounded in justice is part of doing our jobs more effectively. What’s more, the volume clearly demonstrates its prioritization for inclusivity by providing robust support for those who teach young learners at the pre-kindergarten through grade 3 levels—a population woefully underrepresented in language teaching literature—and for topics that have been unjustly ignored in language education, such as racism, sexism, and the needs of LGBTQIA learners. This is a clear demonstration of the volume’s uniqueness in its vast breadth of scope and attention, which is the book’s most valuable feature and why it will serve our field wonderfully for many years to come." — Uju Anya, Carnegie Mellon University

Foreword, Terry A. Osborn. Acknowledgments. Introduction to This Volume, Stacey M. Johnson, L. J. Randolph Jr., and Kelly F. Davidson. SECTION I: INCLUSIVE AND EMPOWERING CLASSROOMS. Inclusive and Empowering Classrooms: An Introduction, Stacey M. Johnson. Interrupting the Status Quo. Walking on the Side of a Cliff: Entry Points for Social Justice Education, Johanna Ennser-Kananen. Dismantling Gender Binary Associations in the Spanish Class: Three Transnational Testimonios, Marialuisa Di Stefano, Abelardo Almazán-Vázquez, and William Yepes-Amaya. Rethinking Grading for Social Justice, Nicole Coleman and Steffen Kaupp. Comprehensible Input as an Inclusive Practice, John Bracey. Grenzenlos Deutsch: Increasing Social Justice Through Open Educational Resources and Practices, Erika Berroth. Persist in Teaching Controversial Topics, Jenny L. Santilli. Ensuring Student Access and Success. Challenging Reproduction and Fostering Counternarratives in the Heritage Spanish Classroom, Julianne Bryant. Language Learning Without Limits in an Inclusive Prekindergarten French FLEX Program, Michele Regalla and Hilal Peker. Teaching Trans: The Impetus for Trans, Nonbinary, and Gender Nonconforming Inclusivity in Language Classrooms, Kris Aric Knisely. Who Gets to Play? Issues of Access and Social Justice in World Language Study in the United States, Cassandra Glynn and Beth Wassell. Reflection Questions for Section I. SECTION II: INTEGRATION OF CRITICAL TOPICS. Integration of Critical Topics: An Introduction, L. J. Randolph Jr. Designing Curriculum. Novices Can: Essential Questions, Authentic Resources, and Backward Design, Rebecca Blouwolff. Integrating Social Justice Themes Into the Lower-Level Spanish Curriculum, Silvia M. Peart and Marcela van Olphen. A Redesign of Introductory German With a Focus on Social Justice, Susan Hojnacki. Making the Invisible Visible in Multi-Section University Language Classrooms, Jennifer Wooten and Nick Campbell. A Tiered Approach to Social Justice Integration and Curricular Contexts, Stephanie M. Madison and Erin Gilreath Carlson. Heritage Language Maintenance Is a Right, Not a Privilege, Angélica Amezcua. Centering Marginalized Experiences. Connecting Shared Immigration Experiences in the Language Classroom, Kathy Pratt. Social Justice in Central America Through Social Reforms and Land Rights, Bryan Whitford. Highlighting Black Culture in the Spanish Classroom, Regina O’Neal. An Inclusive Approach to Bringing Asia Into the Introductory Spanish Class, Shannon W. Hahn. Al-Andalus: Teaching History and Identity With a Decolonial Lens for Early Language Learners, Françoise Thenoux. Integrating Arts and Literacy. A Window Into Social Justice in the Primary Classroom, Serena A. Keeney-Horsch and Kelly F. Davidson. Fostering Interculturality for Young Novice Learners Using Picture Book Units on Social Justice, Tracey Lamont Keitt Jr. Je suis Charlie: Addressing Social Justice Issues Through the Lens of Critical Media Literacy, Elyse B. Petit. Artists as Testimonial Witnesses of Injustices in an Intermediate Spanish Course, Beatriz García Glick. Reflection Questions for Section II. SECTION III: ACTIVISM AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT. Activism and Community Engagement: An Introduction, Kelly F. Davidson. Using Authentic Cultural Texts to Address Environmental Justice in the Novice and Intermediate Spanish Classroom, Carmen Granda. Teaching LGBTQIA+ Rights in a Spanish Class, Mary Hudgens Henderson. Selecting and Leveraging Key Resources for a Novice-Level Unit on Migrant Farmworker Conditions, Anneke J. Oppewal. From Language Supporting Communication to Language Supporting Action, Beckie Bray Rankin. Raising Awareness of Biopiracy and Reenvisioning Learners as Advocates, Sara Finney and Claire Mitchell. Engaging Locally. We Are Stronger Together: Community Generating Pedagogies, Rachel Parroquin, with Elena Mangione-Lora, Maria Coloma, Andrea Topash-Ríos, Tatiana Botero, and Marisel Moren. Activating Critical Cultural Awareness Through Outside of Class Cultural Activities, Pablo Muirhead. Navigating “the Seven C’s” to Promote Bilingualism and Biliteracy Through Place-Based Anchor Projects, Elizabeth Howard. Transnational Feminist Approaches to Language Instruction, Krishauna Hines-Gaither and Christen Campbell. “It’s Who I Am”: Building Community in the Elementary School Setting Through Our Names, Dorie Conlon and Manuela Wagner. Engaging Globally. Social Justice Sin Fronteras: Challenges and Achievements of an Online Intercultural Exchange in Time of Crisis, Fabrizio Fornara and Jesse Gleason. Practicing Solidarity in a Critical Service-Learning Project, Kimberly Vinall. “Of Course Just in Japanese! Why Would the Government Do Anything Else? This Is Japan!”: Developing Critical Literacy Through a Linguistic Landscape Project in a Japanese Language Classroom, Yuri Kumagai and Yuko Takahashi. Reflection Questions for Section III. References. About the Authors.