Language and Power

DSS Service-Learning Course: Language and Power


Linguist James Paul Gee has described English language teachers as standing “at the heart of the most crucial educational, cultural, and political issues of our time.” The course will examine this phenomenon, placing you at the intersection of service-learning, English language teaching, and critical applied linguistics. It is designed to integrate experiential learning with an exploration of the broader forces which influence educational settings.

With the support of Professor Steve Iams, an experienced teacher-trainer and faculty member at NYU Shanghai, and in partnership with a local volunteer organization, you will teach English virtually for migrant communities in Shanghai. At the same time, through discussion seminars, readings, and reflective writing, you will explore the social, cultural, and political factors which often intersect with language teaching, and consider how these factors operate in the context of your service-learning project. Seminar topics will include linguistic imperialism, language stigma and status, English as a lingua franca, and the rise of global Englishes.


L&P 2019


Course Details: “Topics in Service Learning: Language and Power” is a letter-graded course taught by Professor Steve Iams, spanning the second 7 weeks of the fall semester and the first 7 weeks of the spring semester. Scholars earn a total of 4 credits overall (2 credits per 7-week stage) and are required to commit to both the fall and spring because the spring course and service builds on the fall experience. We will meet once in late September for an orientation to the course, then meet regularly on Wednesdays evenings from Nov. 2 - Dec. 11. The exact class time for spring 2021 will be announced later on. Participating in both the fall and spring semester components is required.

Service Commitment: In the fall, students commit to teaching for around 2 hours per week. You will teach in pairs of two based on your schedules and Stepping Stone's needs.

Eligibility to Apply: Students of all years who can commit to the above requirements are eligible to apply. Anyone with an interest in service-learning, language learning, or language teaching is encouraged to apply, regardless of your first language. A multilingual cohort of students is desired to facilitate learning from one another.

Application Instructions: Please fill out the application form. Questions? Email Chunhao Qian at