First Advisor

Kimberley Brown

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Teaching English as a Second Language




Intercultural communication, Multicultural education, English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 191 p.)


There is increasing interest on the part of ESL educators in the inclusion of contemporary, global issues in their classrooms. Theory about content-based ESL, as well as trends in education, generally, lend support to such enthusiasm. However, ESL educators may be erroneously assuming that their interest in this material is shared by their students. Global issues can also be controversial. Their inclusion in the classroom has the potential to create an uncomfortable, and therefore ineffective, learning atmosphere in a multicultural ESL setting. This qualitative case study examined the use of global issues as the content material in a university-based ESL advanced listening/ speaking class, from the perspective of ten students. A variety of data-gathering methods were employed: direct observation of whole-class sessions; observation and audio-recordings of small-group discussions; tape-recorded journals created by the subjects; audio-recordings of two interviews conducted with each subject. The study focused on three areas: awareness of/interest in global issues developed by the subjects while in their home countries; background experiences and interest in critical analysis developed by the subjects prior to the study; possible changes experienced by the subjects, both in comfort and interest in using global issues in the ESL classroom, during the study. The results indicate that the majority of the subjects entered the classroom with some exposure to several specific global issues. Most had little experience in analyzing the issues using the type of critical analysis common to American academic settings. Initially, most felt hesitant about publicly expressing opinions regarding controversial issues; this reluctance was alleviated by the end of the term. Interest in the material also increased for most subjects during the term. The primary difficulties were found to be related less to global issues and more to the activities performed while working with the subject matter. The study concludes that global issues may be better- suited to classroom activities requiring less public expression of individual ideas and opinions. It also recommends training for ESL educators in intercultural conflict resolution, to enable them to facilitate effective classroom discussion of controversial issues.


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