Teaching Language Through the Lens of Social Justice

July 27–31, 2020 • Synchronous

NOTE: The following description comes from the 2020 Summer Institute program
to give you a general idea of the content of the institute.
This information will be updated for 2021 by mid-November 2020.

Cassandra Glynn, Pamela Wesely, and Beth Wassell

Teaching for and about social justice positively influences all students, yet social justice education can be challenging to integrate into the language classroom. In the first part of this institute, participants will examine the principles of social justice education and identify ways that these principles can support our standards, objectives, and targeted skills in contemporary foreign language education. Through discussion and reflection, teachers will identify their own interests and strengths as language educators for social justice.

In the second part of the institute, the participants will build on this foundation to adapt, develop, and create learning opportunities for their foreign language students. A creative set of experiences will help participants go from big ideas to activities and assessments for their classroom, all while teaching for and about social justice.


  • This is a synchronous online institute that will run from 9 am-4 pm CDT. The schedule includes many synchronous presentations throughout the day as well as time for independent or partner/group work and a break for lunch.
  • You must be available to participate for the entire day Monday–Friday.
  • Make sure to review the tech requirements for this institute.

Program Schedule (9am-4pm)
Day 1
  • Defining Social Justice Concepts
  • Types of Social Justice Education
  • Building Community and Preparing for Teaching Social Justice
Day 2
  • Points of Entry for Social Justice Teaching 
  • Social Justice Issues and Activities
  • Sample Lessons and Units
  • Brainstorming Ideas for Instruction
Day 3
  • Adapting Materials to Incorporate Social Justice Objectives
  • Adapting and Designing Instructional Materials and Formative Assessments
Day 4
  • Structuring a Social Justice Unit
  • Incorporating Social Justice in
    Performance Assessments
  • Creating an Original Unit
Day 5
  • Sharing Units/Lessons/Materials
  • Reflection and Self-Assessment in Social Justice Education
  • Advocacy for Social Justice Education

After this institute, you will be able to:
  • Identify and describe basic principles of social justice education;

  • Create a classroom environment that fosters social justice education;

  • Design original foreign language units that integrate topics of social justice;

  • Adapt textbooks and other classroom materials to incorporate social justice principles; and

  • Engage in self-assessment and reflection regarding social justice education.




Cassandra Glynn is Assistant Professor and Director of the Master of Education in World Language Instruction at Concordia College. Prior to working in teacher education, she taught middle and high school German and French in Minnesota and North Dakota.

Beth Wassell is Professor in the Department of Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Education at Rowan University in New Jersey. Prior to her work in teacher education, she worked as a Spanish teacher at the high school, elementary, and community college levels.

Pamela Wesely is Associate Professor of Foreign Language and ESL Education at the University of Iowa. Her research addresses the K–12 world language classroom and its stakeholders. She was previously a middle school French teacher for eight years.

Target Audience

This institute is designed for foreign language teachers, immersion educators, English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers at the elementary level through the postsecondary level, as well as teacher educators. The institute is not targeted at English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers.*

*This institute is built around the book, Words and Actions: Teaching Languages Through the Lens of Social Justice, which is focused on the World-Readiness Standards of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages; thus, some of the readings do not directly apply to the ESL teaching context. ESL teachers who are willing to stretch their thinking to make connections between the foreign language context and their ESL context would be welcome to join the institute. For questions, please contact Dr. Cassandra Glynn.


Quote MarksRight quote marksThis institute lit a spark that I'll carry with me throughout the school year, and hopefully throughout my career. Ultimately, it made me get back in touch with why teaching is such an important vocation.
Matthew Bentley, 2018 Participant
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