ESL etc.

Global Issues and Activism in English Language Teaching

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TESOL 2012 Presentation – Teach Your Students to Save the World through Social Entrepreneurship

April 24th, 2012 by Dave · No Comments

Catharine Hannay and William Little wrote this post about their TESOL presentation. Thank you both very much for sharing this! And for anyone else who has materials they’d like to share, let me know.

It was lovely meeting David at the TESOL convention, as well as several other teachers who are interested in social justice issues. It’s encouraging to see that there are a lot of other people out there who have similar concerns, and we’re happy to have this chance to share what we presented and hopefully hear some of your suggestions.

Basically, social entrepreneurs are people who find creative solutions to pressing issues in their communities. It’s a theme that works well with ESL classes because there are a lot of authentic reading and listening sources available, it promotes critical thinking skills, and it offers students a chance to get involved in the world outside the classroom. It can also be a nice antidote to news-based lessons that focus on the problems faced by people around the world: for every problem, there’s someone working on a solution… and maybe we can help.

There were three main focuses of our presentation: Bill talked about an eight-week course on Social Entrepreneurship that he’s given to students in the advanced-level Business and Professional English (BPE) Program at Georgetown; Catharine talked about individual lessons that she’s given in intermediate-level ESL courses; and we both talked about coordinating student volunteering and fundraising projects.

In the Social Entrepreneurship course, students read about and discuss a variety of organizations, then do a site visit. This is followed by a volunteer project, and then the eight-week session is wrapped up with a poster presentation highlighting each student’s own (imaginary) NGO that addresses an issue in their home community. One of the teachers who attended our presentation mentioned that she’s done a similar final project, but she has her students produce a brochure instead of a poster, which is another interesting possibility.

Another teacher who attended our presentation mentioned that she’s found it difficult trying to organize a volunteer project for her students, especially where transportation isn’t readily available. This can certainly be a challenge, but it’s a lot easier if you can join forces with a colleague, and/or participate in an event on campus (this is also a great way for ESL students to get to know native speakers), and/or do something online–for example the class can vote on who to fund through

If you’d like more information, you can:
Click here for our presentation handout. Page 2 has a list of recommended websites.
Click here for our presentation slides (with student photos removed, since they hadn’t given permission for them to be posted online).

Email us: Catharine Hannay, William Little – Intensive English Program, Georgetown University.

Tags: blog · global issues activities · global issues resources · poverty & wealth · presentations · professional organizations · service learning · social entrepreneurship · teaching with games · TESOL 2012 · video games

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