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Christina Giannikas - 50th Anniversary NYS TESOL Conference Presenter (2020)
10/25/2020


We asked NYS TESOL 2020 presenters to answer a few questions about the unique times we are living in. Here is what Dr. Giannikas shared.


In what ways does your work support, celebrate, and validate multilingual learners‘ cultural, racial, and linguistic assets?

Multilingualism is a true blessing as it can offer a variety of educational experiences that can help all those involved decide on the role they want to play in culture, language, and life, and this is the message I try to get across in my work. Through critical and self-reflective practices in my research and teaching, I work towards encouraging racial, cultural, and linguistic assets. I prompt other researchers, students, and trainees to embrace and enjoy the gift of diversity, respect others' identity, and for everyone to share funds of knowledge in their learning community. It is important that we all make it a point to model culturally responsive and socially responsible practices, and raise awareness on how powerful language in supporting and validating these assets. Multilingualism has the power to lead us to unity or division and I feel that it is my responsibility to prepare future teachers and citizens to be advocates of the unity this world needs it more than ever!

What advice would you give to teachers of multilingual learners to face and advocate for their students and families during COVID-19 and systemic racism?

COVID-19 brought so much disruption to the world. Teachers, students, and their families are coping with an unprecedented situation and the only way to get through it is together. So, the advice I would give teachers during these troubled times is to first of all take care of themselves and protect themselves whether inside or outside the classroom and educate their students to do the same.
Teachers must feel well and pay attention to their well-being. There is a feeling that COVID-19 has deprived us of our school experience and our normal interactions with those around us, nonetheless, we can't let it get us down. We have to be strong and fight it-remember, you are acting as a role model to your students. Wouldn't you much rather be seen as the hero?

As far as systemic racism is concerned, it is an ongoing tragedy that must be stopped. We need to advocate counselors, medical workers, and social workers in schools, and work with them for the benefit of the families we are in touch with and the community at large. If we all work together, we can do wonders. Also, it would be a good idea to alert families to BIPOC groups that are part of the Dignity in Schools Campaign. They can help support many families and raise awareness. Finally, it is important to encourage families to become active in the school community. Advise students and families of all backgrounds to be well informed. A lack of knowledge is dangerous and students today need to learn about local history to understand the community they are in and the repercussions of racism. 

What impact do you think COVID-19 and racial justice movements will have on TESOL Education?

I think that TESOL is an education community that thrives over challenges. Sure there are difficulties to be faced at the moment, and we are experiencing many changes in our ways, however, I believe that TESOL will come out stronger than ever. It is a community that is eager to learn, professionally develop, and is also sensitive to racial, cultural, and linguistic issues. So, to answer your question, the impact will be that we will grow stronger!

Christina Nicole Giannikas holds a Ph.D. in the field of Applied Linguistics. She is a consultant and founder of CG Education; Research Consultancy. She also works in Higher Education where she lectures courses in Applied Linguistics and is a teacher trainer for the pre-service and in-service teacher education programs in Cyprus and beyond. She specializes in the areas of early language learning, age-appropriate digital pedagogies, digital literacies, assessment, and Teacher Education. For the last four years, Christina has been serving as Chair of the EuroCALL Teacher Education SIG and was recently appointed the EuroCALL National Contact for Greece. Keep an eye out for her upcoming new book with the title: Teaching Practices and Equitable Learning in Children’s Language Education!