Inclusion via ELT or is it the Other Way Around?

The latest ‘trend’ in the market dictates the adaptation of teaching materials with the purpose of catering to all educational needs. ‘Trend’ as a term in this case might seem harsh - perhaps a misconception. Nonetheless, the sudden surge that has swept the educational field proves otherwise. Never before has the desire to perfectly tailor materials to a broader and diverse audience been so prevalent. To this end, publishers and educators alike have made strides in assuring their materials can be assimilated by all learners, minimizing the chances of exclusion in any form. LGBTQI+ individuals, students with special educational needs (SEN), diverse cultural and ethnic learners are but some of the groups that have benefitted from this endeavor. One though must ponder the reality of the situation. Are we being diverse in our educational practices for the sake of inclusion or are we ‘going with the flow’?

Never in your wildest dreams would you expect the author of this article to express herself in such a strict fashion. Let’s get one thing straight. The general motives of an educator must be with no exception to the benefit of the learners. Our students’ education is of the utmost priority, meaning that we will go to great lengths through our tutelage to instill them with the wisdom to accommodate their role as the future pillars of our society. Having said this, each new innovation in the field of education is utilized to meet this demand. Broader understanding of inclusive practices, diverse pedagogical techniques and most assuredly the acceptance and encouragement of all students must be the foundation of any educational field. This of course brings us to the flaming issue of ulterior motivation. Are we being inclusive in our educational practices because there has been a sudden ‘explosion’ of inclusion in the industry? Refraining from adapting said practices would be frowned upon and therefore have our persons criticized and reprimanded; a notion colleagues have feared would befall them if they not ‘comply’ with the latest inclusive practices. This is why the whole system might be doomed to fail.

Now, why in the world would inclusive educational tutelage fail? It’s the first time in history that education has become so broadly accessible to a diverse and widely recipient audience. Students around the world are now more eager than ever to participate, have their voices heard and proudly express themselves for who they are and what they believe in. 21st century skills have successfully been boosted to a whole new level via inclusive methodologies encompassing even wider and broader teachings. Cultural exchange has reached new heights and globalization as a notion has fully come to realization, ensuring the foundations of a closely knit and collaborative student network which in turn will unite them all as one people. ELT proudly encompasses the values of inclusion, acting as a catalyst to learning by implementing and promoting the aspects of a diverse learning audience. Unfortunately, there are educators who fail to acknowledge the importance and necessity of inclusion in their profession, resorting to it only out of obligation or necessity. In such cases, the lesson lacks the most essential of elements; those of respect, acceptance and compassion.

Here is where things get unraveled. If you wish to promote ELT via inclusion, you should embrace your students for who they are regardless of race, gender, nationality or needs. Failure to do so by choosing ‘favorites’ in class and disregarding others will promote nothing but exclusion, disappointment and indifference to learning. An educator must embrace the values of respect, acceptance and compassion to be inclusive; to genuinely care about the students who look up to us for guidance and support in their most stressful and essential stages of their lives. Therefore, the general consensus would agree that promoting inclusion as a ‘forced’ element of the ELT syllabus would lead to disastrous results as it is not a set of rules to be learned, rather the principles every human being must wholeheartedly embrace to foster respect and tranquility in an educational environment.

ELT can and should promote inclusion. Inclusion can and must be promoted via ELT. Both recipes are feasible as long as inclusion is acknowledged for what it must represent in today’s world; nothing short of equal opportunities to advance, grow and contribute to an ever-demanding society.


Katherine Reilly

Katherine Reilly

Author & Academic Lecturer, English Literature | LGBTQIA+ Business Consultant | Public and Motivational Speaker