The 54th IATEFL Conference, Exhibition and Careers Fair is going virtual this June, and so is our 2021 Pre-Conference Event! Join us on Saturday 12th June, along with members of the IATEFL Literature SIG, for a whole day of online CPD on the theme of ‘migrant narratives’.
In our joint PCE, we want to address a phenomenon which is an ever more pressing part of our contemporary world: migration. The reasons why people migrate are many and varied, and we shall try to include the narratives of as many kinds of ‘people on the move’ as possible, from emigrants and immigrants to refugees and asylum seekers, and even people who opt for ‘return migration’.
Our day will include looking at migrants’ experiences as narrated in ‘diaspora literature’, works written by authors living outside their native country but whose writings are in some way related to their country of origin. But we intend to consider a wide range of media in our observation of experiences of migration: the novel, poetry and drama; film and television; visual arts; genre writing (popular literature such as thrillers and detective stories, and young adult fiction).
Pedagogy will be an important feature of our day: how to bring migrant narratives into the classroom, and how to use literature, art and media to promote social inclusion. To this end we’ll talk about using and creating appropriate materials, and suggest techniques suitable for teaching that involves migrant narratives, notably storytelling and creative writing. In our pedagogical considerations we will bear in mind that the teacher might be teaching about migration, or teaching to migrants, or indeed both.
We are also interested in creating opportunities for participants at the PCE to share their experiences: we will update you later on how we intend to do this.
‘Deprived of history’: films and novels in third places
Metaphorically, all our learners are immigrants, moving from one language world into another. Like immigrants, some cling to their own language behaviour, while others embrace new language identities. Learners should readily empathise with “boundary experiences of culturally displaced persons, who have grown up in one country but have emigrated to another” (Kramsch 1993). The talk will explore the immigrant experience, both literally and as a metaphor for the experience of the language learner. We will consider four stages of emigration / immigration / accommodation and assimilation: Dreams of leaving; The shock of the new; A period of adjustment; Dual identities. Using a selection of literary texts and movie clips, I will suggest that the theme of immigration can act as more than a metaphor and can become a powerful tool to promote greater understanding in multicultural classrooms.
Telling stories and countering narratives in the participatory ESOL classroom
What can participatory approaches to the language classroom offer us when it comes to storytelling and creating narratives around migration? The work of participatory educators, including Paulo Freire, has created a growing movement of participatory English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers in the UK. In the participatory ESOL classroom, the students’ pre-existing knowledge and lived experience take centre stage and are the driving force behind the curriculum. Drawing on experiences in the participatory community ESOL classes of English for Action London, and the transnational Migreat! project that seeks to counter dominant narratives on migrant communities across Europe, this session will showcase examples of how participatory methods have been used in classes to explore the theme of migration. The session will be participatory and will look at practical participatory tools and possibilities they create, and the importance of thinking about positionality.
Judith B. O’Loughlin
From Trauma to Resilience: The Power of Stories
Resilience isn’t a specific program, but a process. Helping students develop resilience connects teachers to learners, including newcomers and other at-risk students with limited and/or interrupted formal education. The presenter provides the research background of resilience research connected to practical approaches through a model helping learners recognize their inner strengths through the power of story. She focuses on psychologist Edith Grotberg’s, research, that all learners recognize the strengths they possess using an “I Have, I Am, I Can” protocol. After modeling activities connected to the “I Have” and “I Can,” the presenter provides an in-depth multi-dimensional approach to “I Am” through the power of stories. She provides examples of migration stories, including her own, in written narratives, picture books, wordless picture books, photo essays, murals, six-word memoirs, storytelling, and readers’ theatre. Participants develop their own “power of story” which can be adapted or replicated.
‘Everything is lost. Why is this happening to me?’ Creative storytelling for resilience, empathy and change.
The old folk tales give us knowledge about how to face the unknown and are therefore ideal for engaging with challenging topics. Fatima is a resilient and resourceful young woman who faces and overcomes adversity as she is forced to leave behind everything she knows and seek refuge. Through telling the traditional Middle Eastern folk tale about her journey, we can give all our students insight into the experience of migration. Students can relate Fatima’s story to their own lives and to global issues and explore the possibility of positive change. This workshop offers you creative, meaningful and mind-opening storytelling and personal response activities which can easily be used with this and other folk tales.
Migration: Language and Silence
Alan will remind us of the ubiquity of human migration and the multiplicity of groups which have moved since the beginnings of human history. Migration has also been variously motivated – by religious persecution, conquest and colonisation, economic hardship and opportunity, war and civil unrest, and the search for self-development through education. Alan will focus on a few texts which offer insights into the ways migration affects language and also imposes silence: Ruth Wajnryb’s The Silence, Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation and works from the Afro-Caribbean diaspora, including John Agard and Grace Nichols among others. Alan will move between readings of excerpts, discussion of the migrant condition and suggestions for possible ways of incorporating such texts and subject matter into our curricular structure.
Questions, Answers and Observations
Throughout the day, our Pre-Conference event will be moderated by GISIG committee member Hind Elyas. Hind will keeping a careful eye on the chat box and putting your questions to our speakers. We’ll be encouraging you, along with other participants, to share observations on any topics suggested by the PCE, including personal experiences, stories and proposals for future action inside and outside the classroom.
Singers have always written about the experience of migration, but how useful is such music for us as teachers of English? After all, most popular music is usually about other things – love, being happy, being sad, being teenagers! How appropriate, then, are other kinds of songs for language teaching: songs of migration, songs about immigrants and immigration etc? For surely they too should command our attention in the inter-cultural world that teaching English as an international language necessarily suggests. And what about different kinds of music that migrants carry with them? Can that be useful for students of different backgrounds? This session is, obviously, about music. But it is also, of course, about learning English. There will be live music; there will be English; there will be learning!