Learning the Language of Global Citizenship: Strengthening Service-Learning in TESOL
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Learning the Language of Global Citizenship:
Strengthening Service-Learning in TESOL
James M. Perren and Adrian J. Wurr (Eds.) Common Ground Publishing, 2015, 624 pp.

inline graphicDespite my best efforts, I frequently found myself in the position that I feared most: sitting and being present with the family … In my other volunteer experiences, that isn't usually a requirement … I think that "doing" makes my encounters with injustice bearable for me. "Being" is hard, but maybe the act of being present with this family and allowing myself to be seen by them was a gift. It was a gift for me and it is something that will be with me for the rest of my life.—Student participant in Grassi and Armon, Chapter 16.

As seen in the quote from Grassi and Armon's study above, effective service-learning programs and projects can provide participants with meaningful experiences that are distinct from other social contribution or volunteer efforts, and can facilitate reflection, awareness, and reconstruction of their views and attitudes towards marginalized populations, such as by helping participants break down stereotypes and recognize challenges that the marginalized face.

Perren and Wurr introduce their goal for the edited collection Learning the Language of Global Citizenship: Strengthening Service-learning in TESOL as advancing scholarship in service-learning in the field of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), while recognizing that many community organizations and partnerships unquestionably value the skills and benefits that English-language learners bring. The first volume of Learning the Language of Global Citizenship, published eight-years prior, introduced the groundwork for approaches and research in domestic and international service-learning efforts. This second volume extends the first by providing a variety of insights into approaches and strategies for researching, teaching, and administrating effective service-learning programs and projects with culturally diverse language users and learners.

Throughout the collection, the researchers and contributing authors show their sensitivity and attention to participants who have traditionally been marginalized, taking approaches such as framing service-learning relationships as mutually beneficial, terming learners as ELLs (English-language learners) or participants, [End Page 121] and giving participants the option of using or not using their real names in the publication. Most authors contextualize their approach, recognizing some dissonance in the way service-learning projects typically frame ELLs as the served, and seeking to frame the mutually beneficial roles of all participants.

The collection is organized by context and purpose of the collaboration with the community partner. For example, chapters report on studies which investigate service-learning partnerships of university students with Intensive English Programs and within a variety of academic, community, and professional contexts (Parts I, II, III), as well as those which investigate teacher-education classes partnering in a variety of US and international contexts (Parts IV, V, VI). Within these divisions, readers can additionally find a variety of foci in the chapters. In the first three parts, for example, Leanne Cameron considers the long-term impacts and implications of ELLs engaged in education for social justice (Chapter 3), Rachael Wendler Shah examines community members' perspectives, making recommendations for framing the partnership and designing the curriculum (Chapter 7), and Netta Avineri explores pre-service teachers' intercultural interactions and self-awareness of shifting identities developing through service-learning encounters (Chapter 8). In the latter three parts, for example, Santoi Wagner and Jacqueline G. Lopez address the challenges and support needed for international student teachers (Chapter 11), Elizabeth Grassi and Joan Armon examine the impact and relevance of immersing pre-service teachers in a new culture and language with local immigrant families (Chapter 16), and Denise Blum uses Critical Race Pedagogy (CRP) to interrogate discourse that promotes English as a dominant language (Chapter 20).

In Chapter 7, "'It was Sort of Hard to Understand Them at Times': Community Perspectives on ELL Students in Service-Learning Perspectives," Rachael Wendler Shah investigates the perspective of community member participants, while interrogating a problematic power dynamic implied by a traditional service-learning paradigm. Through interviews with a high school teacher partner and three of her students who self-identified across a range of social and linguistic boundaries—including Latino/a, LGBTQ, bilingual, with close family connections in...


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