Teaching Language Through the Lens of Social Justice

July 26–30, 2021
Synchronous* 1-week summer institute

Pamela Wesely and Cassandra Glynn

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.

Program Schedule (9am-4pm)
Day 1
  • DeÞning 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
  • Reßection 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.

Pamela Wesely is Associate Professor of Multilingual 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. See explanation below.

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.


  • This synchronous online institute will run from 9 am-4 pm (Central Time). 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 MondayÐFriday.
  • Make sure you can meet the tech requirements for this institute.
  • While this institute will be offered online in 2021, we intend to offer it face-to-face in the future. If you can only take it online, you are encouraged to enroll this summer.


Quote MarksRight quote marksI feel invigorated and inspired after this week! This institute provided me with so many practical ideas and support from new colleagues. I feel prepared to get back into my classroom with social justice at the forefront of my work.
Ellen Chirhart, 2020 Participant
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Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) • 140 University International Center • 331 - 17th Ave SE • Minneapolis, MN 55414