TDAJ Vol 2 No 2 (June 2022)

The IATEFL Teacher Development Special Interest Group is proud to launch our third issue of the Teacher Development Academic Journal (TDAJ)! This issue was commissioned and co-organised as a special issue via the authors of the introductory chapter, Daniel Becker, Christian Ludwig, and Theresa Summer. As the topic area of taboo(ed) topics in ELT aligned well with our previous issue on Race & Queerness in ELT, we felt it made a valuable contribution to the existing Volume 2. We wish to sincerely thank all the contributing authors for their hard work and commitment to teacher development and choosing this volume of the TDAJ as the platform to share this work. Without you, this project would not have become the next phase of meaningful platform use.

Publication date: June 24, 2022
ISSN #: 2957-4374

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For more information about this journal, please visit the main TDAJ page.

In this issue

Taboos in ELT through the lens of critical pedagogy: A short Introduction

Daniel Becker, Christian Ludwig, & Theresa Summer

Taboo topics are still taboo in English language education research. While the discipline has significantly broadened its academic spectrum over the past few years, by more prominently reaching into realms such as global education, digital learning, and ecocriticism, there are hardly any studies which explore the notion of taboos and their relevance for language learning and cultural participation. Yet, we believe that, despite their difficult nature, taboo topics should be explored in English language education and with this special issue we advocate for discussing different taboos in the ELT context, using the overarching perspective of critical pedagogy. In order to get started with this endeavor, and before letting our contributors take the stage, this short introduction briefly explains the notion of taboos and their relevance in culture and education by relating it to critical pedagogy.

“It’s not like in Europe or in Germany” – an empirical insight into learner conversations about taboo(ed) issues

Christine Gardemann

Dealing with taboo(ed) issues in class might lead to initial irritation on the side of learners for various reasons. Such confusion can be beneficial to learning when it is used as an impulse to start meaningful conversations. Alienation, however, is an inhibitor of understanding. This article re-analyses two EFL case studies with advanced secondary school learners (Bracker 2015, Otterpohl 2021) in order to illustrate the alienation that takes place when pupils are confronted with outdated gender roles, police violence, and racism. The article aims at suggesting practical implications for teachers to turn such initial alienation into a critical engagement. It will also highlight possible consequences for teacher education.

Shame in EAP writing classrooms: A taboo or an emotion with transformative potential?

Anwar Ahmed

This article is about shame and writing in English for academic purposes. Although shame is generally avoided in pedagogical discussions, I argue that it is important to talk about shame in order to understand how student-writers build relations with others as they navigate their journey of writing development. I tell a ‘data-story’ of a participant who was able to turn shame into educational energy, and ultimately experience pride. I conclude the article with three recommendations: encouraging students to reflect on their own experiences of writing, developing a critical affective literacy, and paying attention to the productive aspects of negative emotions.

‘Under the weather’? An empirical exploration of climate anxiety and mental health in future teachers of English

Roman Bartosch & Stefanie Fuchs

Climate change has moved from a future issue to a threat in the present. This has implications for students’ and teachers’ mental health and wellbeing, especially when these implications are disregarded to the point of becoming tabooed. This contribution presents results of an exploratory mixed-methods questionnaire study of future teachers’ beliefs and attitudes towards climate change and makes suggestions regarding the prevailing negligence of the topic in teacher development contexts. Theoretically, it draws on two insights from extant research: that climate change as a health issue comes with taboos and uncertainties about how to address matters of ‘pretrauma’ and ‘ecological grief’; and that teachers’ lack of knowledge and uncertainty about the nature of climate change poses an additional challenge for climate and sustainability education in English. A brief review of relevant literature, including empirical studies and conceptual work from a range of disciplines, will be followed by a brief presentation of our study design, a discussion and interpretation of our findings, as well as an outlook pointing to implications for teacher education and development research.


Constructing a taboo? – Diversity in gender representations in German textbooks for English as a foreign language

Laura Schiemann

This paper examines how gender is constructed in textbooks for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in Germany through a mixed-method approach. It focuses on the representation of unpaid care work/ paid work, the external appearance of textbook characters, the presence of trans and intersex characters/ topics, and tasks that explicitly address gender. Despite pedagogists’ demands for more inclusive representations of gender to diminish health issues and to broaden personal development, this study finds that binary representations of gender remain the norm, while inclusive gender representations mostly remain taboo, and it thus calls for the textbooks to be reviewed.

Integrating taboo topics into ELT: Investigating future English teachers’ points of view

Christian Ludwig & Theresa Summer

Teacher education should equip pre-service teachers with the necessary skills they need to meet the demands of a constantly and rapidly changing global world. While it is generally established that foreign language teaching should address real-life topics that are close to students’ lives, this dictum seems to be ignored when it comes to discussing taboo topics with students – both at university as well as at schools. This paper discusses outcomes of a study showcasing the opinions of university students of English as a foreign language in Germany on dealing with such topics in English classrooms. Taking the results of their statements as a starting point, the paper discusses selected implications for approaching taboo topics in ELT.

Surviving in a ‘Mad World’: A music-based tool for monitoring students’ emotional well-being in the ELT classroom

Anna Bitmann & Oriana Uhl

The emotional well-being of learners is a crucial component of learning, yet it is often neglected in busy school life. The authors have developed and analyzed a music-based intervention (pre-post design) for the ELT classroom that uses a song journal as a tool for teachers to monitor the emotional well-being of students and promotes the use of productive language skills. The approach allows students both to reflect on and to enhance their repertoire of emotional regulation strategies. This article presents results on how the music-based approach influences the students’ ability to apply emotional regulation strategies to concrete situations.

Learn more about the Teacher Development Academic Journal here.