I’m going to Baltimore soon.
And I’m excited.
It’s the first time that I will be presenting at TESOL outside of the Electronic Village! (I’ll be presenting there, too, but this is the first time I’ve submitted a proposal to big TESOL and got accepted!) There are not enough exclamation points in the world to show how jazzed I am.
I will be presenting on the work I’ve done with Lida Winfield around dance and learning English. I did this presentation at MATSOL and at NNETESOL, and Lida and I presented together at the Flynn Center’s training for teachers incorporating the arts, so I know what I’ll be saying. But I’m still incredibly nervous.
I must say, though, that I have become a true believer in using dance and movement to learn a language. When refugee students come here, they go through shock. That shock makes them not very social. And what are we looking for as teachers? For them to be social beings. To talk. To learn the language. To get to know people. To feel comfortable.
And sometimes, you just can’t.
When I was a foreign exchange student (twice) and when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer, we were shown a graphic very similar to this one. Just to let us know that what we were going through was “normal.” But for us, even if we had a couple of years spreading out in front of us, we knew that we were going home. In the end, it didn’t matter if we ever truly adjusted to the culture we were visiting; we were going home eventually.
My kids don’t get that luxury.
And so, I feel, that we need to be accommodating and make things as comfortable as possible, as quickly as we can. And Lida helped us do that in our classrooms.
Theater and dance open doors where everybody is being a little silly together. It helps build community. And brings joy–something that is often lacking when you’ve left everything you’ve ever known, including the comfort of a language, behind.
It may seem to those of us who are welcoming these refugees into our communities that they really have it good here. Many people think they get public assistance, they are given a place to stay, they have it so good.
But they really don’t.
Refugees have to repay the government for the cost of coming here. It’s not a free ride. They get assistance for three months, then they have to get a job. If you are 19, whether you get to go to school or not depends on household income. Housing isn’t free; you have to earn that yourself. And in Burlington, where I live, it can take years to get into subsidized housing. The difference between subsidized and unsubsidized housing is tremendous.
It’s not so fun being a refugee. Or even a former refugee.
But dance can make that go away, even if it’s just temporarily.
So if you happen to be going to the TESOL conference, I encourage you to come see my presentation and see if this is something that you can build into your curriculum. I certainly will be looking for money to build it into mine.
The smiles and laughter and joy that students experience is priceless.
|Hilton Baltimore, Latrobe||President-Elect Beth Evans presents on Meaning in Movement: Dance Gets Students Talking|
One more note: I’ll also be presenting in the Electronic Village! You can see me here:
|Electronic Village, Technology Fair: Classroom Tools||President-Elect Beth Evans presents on Apps Help Teachers Document Student Growth in All Domains|