30 April 2022

Natalie Finlayson, Senior Resource Developer, presented the following session at the BAAL Linguistics and Knowledge about Language in Education online event – 30 April 2022

Diversity, inclusion and representation in resources for young beginner learners of French, German, and Spanish

By adapting an inclusive approach to education, we teach learners about similarity and difference. In the language-learning context, this can mean breaking cultural barriers by familiarising students with cultural, geographical, political, historical and vocational aspects of areas in which the target language is spoken. It also means empowering students by equipping them with the L2 knowledge necessary to communicate about diversity in their immediate environments, and doing so in a way that ensures all members of the language classroom feel seen, supported and included.

In this practice-based talk, we focus on the importance of representation in language learning materials, and explore the challenges of creating resources for young, beginner learners of French, German and Spanish that (i) represent the language varieties and cultures of global communities of speakers of these languages; (ii) reflect social diversity in the classroom (race, gender, class, religion, sexuality), and (iii) equip students to communicate about their personal identities. As part of (iii), we discuss approaches to gender identity and expression in gendered languages in which aspects of inclusive language are in flux. We take as an example the French gender-neutral pronouns iel(s) and ielle(s), which are becoming more widely used, but are not integrated in the language in the same way as the gender neutral-pronoun they in English.

We present some examples of learning activities in French, German and Spanish that have been developed to support diversity, inclusion and representation in the UK language classroom. These form part of the NCELP lessons currently being piloted in some of NCELP’s 45 networked schools and beyond.

The resources and presentation are available to download on our Resource Portal linked below.

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