Dan Carpino, Introducing Challenging Topics to Adult English as an Additional Language (EAL) Learners
Dan teaches advanced English classes at The Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County. He promotes oral discussion in his English as an Additional Language (EAL) classroom by introducing topics that relate to current and pertinent social events, new laws and government decisions. He encourages his adult learners to explore and expand their views as well as others’ opinions on a variety of topics. While some topics may be controversial, opening such conversations in class allows Dan to communicate classroom and social rules of mutual respect among his students in the class and the broader community.
Díaz-Rico (2012) writes, “It is imperative that teachers encourage the language that is needed and desired by the students, and if that desire does not exist, to evoke those emotions and motivations as an integral part of instruction” (p. 37). Díaz-Rico continues, “Instruction – particularly in a second language – that is not meaningful and motivating to the learner becomes empty” (2012, p. 37). By allowing his students to discuss a variety of topics, Dan encourages the use of language that is relevant to students’ daily lives and interactions within their community. As Díaz-Rico writes, “Language learning occurs within social and cultural contexts” (2012, p. 78). Thus, language instruction becomes a task that supports students in gaining both the proper conventions of written and oral language as well as perspective and an opportunity to discuss social issues that affect their daily lives. Díaz-Rico (2012) states, “Proficiency in a second language also means becoming a member of the community that uses this language to interact, learn, conduct business, and love and hate, among other social activities” (p. 78). Listen below as Dan shares his approach to engaging his EAL adult learners in discussing controversial topics.