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TESOL Press Banner Reach New Heights

TESOL Journal Special Issue 20​20: Call for Proposals: Exploring the transformative potential of English language teaching for social justice

Exploring the transformative potential of English language teaching for social justice


Deniz Ortaçtepe, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey
Jason Martel, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey


We live in an unjust world in which many experience discrimination based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual identity, ability, appearance, privilege, and geographic location. Schools and universities are sites in which such discrimination is not only reproduced, but also challenged. English language teachers are key players in the struggle for social justice (Hastings, 2016), given language’s role in perpetuating disenfranchising ideologies and constructing “the ways learners understand themselves, their social surroundings, their histories, and their possibilities for the future” (Norton & Toohey, 2004, p. 1). Thus, from an English for social progress perspective, teachers and teacher educators can work toward transforming English language education so it is seen not only as a means for developing communicative ability, but also as a political act that cultivates students’ critical inquiry skills, problem-solving strategies, sense of responsibility and ownership, and desire to interact with different communities, all with the goal of addressing the myriad of problems we face in our world.

Despite increased interest in social justice education, there is still a lack of consensus about how to operationalize it (Chubbuck, 2010; Lalas, 2007). However, most contend that teaching for social justice involves positioning English language teachers as “agents of social change” in the fight against the social, economic, political and educational inequalities that exist in school systems and the society at large (Hawkins, 2011, p. 2). It is also largely agreed that teacher preparation programs should equip teacher candidates with key knowledge, skills and dispositions related to social justice (Hawkins, 2011; Piedrahita, 2016; Zeichner, 2011).

Call for Proposals

Given the profound and imminent need for dismantling societal inequities, the core aim of this special issue is to facilitate the growing communities of practice of English language teachers and teacher educators who are invested in eliminating discrimination and working for social justice. We hope that this special issue will provide an interdisciplinary and transformative platform for bridging divides that exist between theory and practice, while opening up a dialogue between teacher educators, language teachers, as well as others who are invested in English language education. All contributions should feature praxis, and those highlighting the use, adaptation and evaluation of curricular materials are particularly encouraged. It is hoped that any English language teacher or teacher educator could consult this special issue and critically enhance their practice as soon as the next day.

Topics for submissions include but are not limited to the following:

● Evaluations of existing/commercial pedagogical materials through a social justice lens (e.g., textbooks, authentic texts, media)

● Social justice-oriented curricular and instructional practices, e.g., using gender inclusive texts, stimulating critical thinking and consciousness, using social justice standards, discussing controversial issues, in addition to implementing differentiated instruction, culturally responsive pedagogies, critical pedagogy, and inclusive education practices

● Teachers’ and learners’ attitudes/beliefs toward teaching for social justice, especially in relation to the challenges and tensions within societal and institutional power structures

● The use of children’s and young adult literature to promote social justice and equity in language classrooms, especially in relation to gender and sexual identities

● Social justice iterations of school and classroom-based assessment (including needs assessment), content-based instruction, and instructional technology

● Instructional practices that will go beyond the walls of the classroom and build bridges between schools and communities

Submission process

Contributions in all TESOL Journal’s genres are welcome, including Feature Articles, Research Briefs, Current Issues in TESOL, Classroom Explorations, Materials & Media Reviews, and Readers Respond. Descriptions of these genres can be found in TESOL Journal’s author guidelines. If you are interested in submitting a manuscript, prepare a 200–300 word abstract and submit it to using this form. Authors of selected abstracts will be invited to submit full versions of their manuscripts for review. Note that an invitation to submit a full manuscript does not guarantee publication; final decisions will be made through a blind peer review process. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at


● Abstract submission: June 24, 2019

● Notifications for inviting full manuscripts: July 22, 2019

● Full manuscripts due: December 31, 2019

● Publication of special issue: September 2020