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Linda Ruas: I would like to inspire teachers not to be afraid to bring global issues into the classroom

Linda Ruas: I would like to inspire teachers not to be afraid to bring global issues into the classroom

Can you provide a brief overview of your background and expertise?

I’ve had quite a long, varied career in ELT, with many years of experience teaching and training in London, Brazil (where I lived for 10 years), Japan, and, more recently, sub-Saharan Africa. I have an MA, and have trained many teachers on CELTA, COTE and DELTA courses, and also worked as a manager. After I joined IATEFL Global Issues SIG, I started presenting at conferences and writing materials, as I discovered what really motivated me – global issues! Since then, I have continued to teach ESOL and run CELTA courses, but have also given plenaries at the amazing SPELT travelling conference in Pakistan, team-taught with my 2 daughters in São Tomé and Príncipe, discovered a passion for exploring and finding out more about sub-Saharan Africa, started a charity, and I now feel I’m using my skills more productively.

What are the main takeaways or insights you aim to deliver during your talk, and how do you believe they will benefit the audience?

I would like to inspire teachers to not be afraid to bring all global issues – however political or contentious – into class. The participatory tools we will look at, with examples from my ESOL groups, should help teachers feel more able to structure the mammoth task of bringing the whole world into their lessons. They can be used in any context, really help learners work together and develop critical thinking, and make learning more memorable.

Can you recall a particularly memorable experience related to teaching or training that left a lasting impact on you?

As I’ve been teaching and training for such a long time, I’m lucky enough to have had many very memorable experiences. For example: having to jump down from the stage and shout my plenary in a massive tent in Lahore when the electricity cut off; Harry Kuchah Kuchah speaking at the TESOL France conference, well before he was IATEFL President, about how much help and guidance English teachers in sub-Saharan Africa need; young Afghani and Sudanese boys I taught in the refugee camp in Calais, remembering every word of every lesson, even when tear-gassed, and inviting me to their tents for tea; and training teachers in remote parts of Guinea Bissau where there is no electricity …

Who or what has been a significant influence or inspiration in your professional journey?

Firstly, my decision to actually get involved in global issues rather than simply reading, writing and teaching about them. This helped me broaden out from classroom teaching to working on various projects, for example training untrained teachers of refugees in Northern Greece, helping to organise pre-conference events at 2 Africa ELTA conferences, and also, to setting up my own charity, with friends, Action Guinea Bissau, to try to provide help and support for teachers, and others, in what is one of the poorest countries in the world.

Do you have any passion projects or hobbies that contribute to your broader understanding of teaching/learning?

I love running, which I only started during Covid, and some of my best teaching ideas come while I’m running! I’m also becoming more and more passionate about sub-Saharan Africa. I began helping various groups voluntarily, but am now earning money from the same work, as a British Council English Connects consultant (remotely, with groups in Sub-Saharan Africa). Teachers in my staffroom in London complain about so many working conditions – but it really helps put this into perspective when we see how most of the world lives and teaches! I also love travelling – I’m going to Guinea Bissau for the fifth time in April this year, training and helping with projects, and then going to the Africa ELTA conference in Cairo in May to work with the Sudanese refugee teachers.