Acknowledging the LGBT Community in EAP

Louise Rudd, the Course Coordinator from Manchester Metropolitan University is going to talk about LGBT issues in an EAP classroom.

EAP often prides itself on being at the forefront of teaching developments. However, language classrooms have a history of avoiding sensitive issues and I have yet to hear of an EAP course that even mentions gay issues or the LGBT community let alone one that attempts to integrate them onto a course. Part of our responsibility in educating international students is to equip them with the skills needed to live and study in the UK. I cannot help but feel we are doing our students a disservice if we ignore sensitive issues such as this.

Whilst working abroad homophobic comments would be commonplace and students would hide their sexuality from their peers. These are some of the same students that come to our universities in the UK. There are now more openly gay students in language classrooms but little analysis of their experiences and whether their needs are being met has been done (Nelson, 2010). The little that has been done has concluded that students are open to learning about gay issues in the language classroom but that it was the teachers who were unsure of how to teach it due to their lack of knowledge on the subject (see Yoshihara, 2013 and Evripidou and Çavuşoğlu, 2014).

Just because a topic is sensitive does not mean it should be ignored; if anything, it is more of a reason to analyse and discuss it in order to ensure it is managed in the best possible way. EAP courses generally provide support to students transitioning into academia as well as life in the UK, and this should include LGBT issues. This PIM is the ideal time to stop ignoring these issues and finally look at how best to support EAP students and teachers. In my talk I’ll draw on my experiences, share how I have managed the situations that I’ve encountered, and propose some ideas for how the EAP community could manage these issues in future. I don’t have all the answers but hope that this session will start the discussion on how to support our students on LGBT matters.

References

Evripidou, D. and Çavuşoğlu, Ç. (2014) English Languge Teachers’ Attitudes Towards the Incorporation of Gay and Lesbian Related Topics in the Classroom: the Case of Greek Cypriot EFL Teachers. Sex Res Soc Policy, 12, 70-80.

Nelson, C. (2010) A Gay Immigrant Student’s Perspective: Unspeakable Acts in the Language Class. TESOL Quarterly, 44:3, 441-464.

Yoshihara, R. (2013) Learning and Teaching Gender and Sexuality Issues in the EFL Classroom: Where Students and Teachers Stand. The Language Teacher, September/October 2013, 8-11.

***

louise-ruddLouise Rudd has been working in EAP since I began teaching and have experience on a range of different EAP courses and teacher training. She has taught in China, Vietnam, Thailand and the UK. She currently runs the Pre-Sessional Programme at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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