“Yes, but…”: Problematizing Participatory ESL Pedagogy
Putting participatory ESL into practice isn’t easy. ESL learners have their own ideas about what counts as language learning, and having a democratic classroom, as this student says, may not be one of them. They may want traditional, teacher-directed, grammar-focused instruction and rote learning. And teachers, too, may have their own issues relating to participatory education; like students, they often hold deeply ingrained beliefs and experiences that are at odds with participatory practices. And when they do embrace this approach, they inevitably encounter complex dilemmas (like dealing with student resistances!) as they try to put the lofty ideals of participatory pedagogy into practice. In this chapter, I explore some of the resistances, challenges, and problems that teachers struggle with in participatory ESL, as well as my own journey as a teacher educator in trying to address them.