Breaking the ice: addressing LGBT issues in the ESOL classroom

natecla london lgbtLanguage acquisition can be hindered if learners are not in an environment which is conducive to fostering a welcoming atmosphere where all feel free to talk about themselves, their identities and personal lives. This is particularly relevant to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) ESOL students. However, ESOL learners can sometimes display strong homophobic views, linked to culture, religion and personal beliefs.

Under the new Common Inspection Framework OFSTED identifies LGBT learners as a group vulnerable to discrimination. Through a series of workshops and talks, this conference aims to equip ESOL practitioners with practical ideas, resources and skills to address these important issues.

These are PDF copies of the three presentations given at our day conference on Saturday 13 October 2012 ‘Breaking the ice: addressing LGBT issues in the ESOL classroom’. Each presentation is preceded by the abstract that appears in the conference programme.

UPDATE [25.01.2013]: videos of these presentations are now available via the British Council English Agenda at the following link:

1)  LGBT invisibility and the heteronormative framing of identity in ELT materials

John Gray Institute of Education
In this short talk John will report on some recent research he has conducted on the treatment of LGBT issues in various types of ELT materials. He will argue that despite the decriminalisation of homosexuality across much of the world throughout the twentieth century and the more recent introduction of gay marriage and civil partnerships in many countries, ELT publishers fail to engage with LGBT issues in ways that reflect such social change. Rather, he suggests, the majority of ELT textbooks continue to construct a ‘monosexual’ world which not only serves to exclude and silence LGBT students and teachers, but actively discriminates against them. The paper draws on data in which a group of lesbian and gay teachers and teacher educators discuss the issues raised by these representational practices and what they see as the implications for pedagogy more generally. PDF

2) Breaking the Ice, Addressing LGBT Issues In The ESOL Classroom

Laila El-Metoui, NATECLA London
In her presentation Laila will explore the need to foster a welcoming atmosphere where all feel free to talk about themselves, their identities and personal lives, should they choose to do so. Contextualised within the new Ofsted CIF (Common Inspection Framework), her talk will offer some practical ideas to managers and ESOL practitioners and highlight the need to have an approach fully integrated within the curriculum. PDF

3) When ‘ordinary’ feels like a luxury

Sheila Macdonald, ESOL Lecturer, Kent Adult
When ordinary feels like a luxury: exploring LGBT issues with beginner ESOL learners” In her presentation, Sheila will pose questions for LGBT and non -LGBT practitioners about the choices we make in choosing teaching materials and activities. Drawing on extensive professional experience and personal practice decisions, she will provide an opportunity for delegates to consider how we arrive at such choices and dilemmas about being out in class. She will share an activity which can be adapted for teaching at any level on family matters. PDF

Useful documents and links:

  • Empower Toolkit – freely available professional development toolkit for adult and Further Education teachers to consider LGBT issues in teaching. Read more about the Empower project here:
  • Homophobia: Let’s Tackle It‘Show Racism the Red Card launches a brand new educational resource: two films and an accompanying education pack. “Talking about Homophobia” is a moving selection of interviews, featuring Hollyoaks’ Kieron Richardson; comedian and author Rhona Cameron and England rugby star Ben Cohen. The film features interviews with young people, exploring: 1. Experiences of homophobia 2. What can you do? 3. Why does bullying happen? 4. Using the word gay 5. ‘Coming out” (text from


4 responses to “Breaking the ice: addressing LGBT issues in the ESOL classroom

  1. Pingback: Considerations of the LGBTQ in ELT materials | 4C in ELT·

  2. Pingback: How can English language teachers bring LGBT issues into the classroom? | British Council Voices·

  3. Pingback: ESOL & LGBT Teaching Resources and Materials – lelmeducation·

  4. Pingback: Tis the season | 4C in ELT TYSON SEBURN·

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