Women of Color in ELT: For Unity and Liberation

elt women of color May 28, 2019

I have met and continue to meet the most interesting and inspiring ELT educators from around the world.  Parisa Mehran is no exception.  I think that Parisa is one of the most active ELTers out there and she constantly strives to find ways to informally and formally teach others about a variety of important issues from stereotyping in our profession to her latest work - Women of Color in ELT.

Please have a read of my short interview with Parisa:

1. Hello again Parisa.  Nice to see you here.  Can you please introduce yourself to the readers?

My name is Parisa and I am an Iranian English teacher based in Japan. Despite the continued prevalence of the “native speaker” model, I have been teaching English part-time for two years at several Japanese universities and at an English conversation school.

2. What inspired you to start Women of Color in ELT?

I was inspired by Scholars of Color in Language Studies and KOTESOL People of Color Teachers SIG so I started the Women of Color in ELT (WOC in ELT) movement.   The website is https://womenofcolorinelt.wordpress.com/

First, I would like to emphasize that we at WOC in ELT are aware that the term “Woman of Color” has been questioned. We acknowledge these concerns and have created a page and explained why we are using it. Please visit this page: https://womenofcolorinelt.wordpress.com/term-women-of-color/  

In our work and practice at WOC in ELT, the term “Women of Color” is meant to unite, transcend, embrace, and welcome Women of Color from all shades of color and all walks of life and experiences, and it is intended to focus on the lived experiences of women who have been historically and systematically marginalized and excluded because of their race, ethnicity, and/or the color of their skin. We hope you will join us in rising above language for unity and liberation.

3. How did the idea for WOC come about?  

I have been trying to fit into the ELT world for about five years since I moved to Japan. After experiencing exclusion in a variety of ways, I have stopped trying to fit in. I haven't felt represented in ELT feminist and equity movements as I believe gender has taken precedence over race, and that's why I have decided to start this movement where Women of Color in ELT are not “included”, nor are they “tolerated”. They are welcomed, valued, respected, listened to, heard, and supported by each other, and create safe and supportive spaces together.

You can read more about the story behind Women of Color in ELT in more detail: https://parisamehran.wordpress.com/2019/05/20/women-of-color-in-elt/

4. What is the purpose of WOC in ELT?  

Adopting a racial equity and intersectional lens, WOC in ELT aims to support and nurture Women of Color in ELT to come together to build collective power for equity and systemic change by providing a platform to give voice and visibility to Women of Color in ELT.  You can read more on the goals of Women of Color in ELT here: https://womenofcolorinelt.wordpress.com/about-woc-in-elt/

5. How can women who identify as Women of Color join?  

If you identify as a Woman of Color in ELT, you can add your name to the database of WOC in ELT by filling out this form: http://bit.ly/WOCinELTForm.

The main purpose of creating this database is to connect Women of Color in ELT to each other.

You can also join Women of Color in ELT Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WOCinELT

You can also follow Women of Color social media:





You can get connected and join the conversation by using this hashtag: #WOCinELT and mentioning our Twitter handle @WOCinELT

You can share your story by writing or sharing a video or audio file: https://womenofcolorinelt.wordpress.com/share-your-story/

You can get involved in WOC in ELT initiatives:


Above all, at WOC in ELT, power is shared. You can lead this movement if you are interested. Just contact us at [email protected] and let us know. You can read about us here: https://womenofcolorinelt.wordpress.com/who-are-we/

6. If someone is not a WOC in ELT but they wish to support the work that you do, how can they do so?

To support WOC in ELT, please check this link: https://womenofcolorinelt.wordpress.com/supporters/

You can also:

- follow us on our social media

- share this movement with Women of Color in ELT that you know

- write for us and tell us why you support WOC in ELT and

add your name to our webpage by filling out this form: http://bit.ly/WOCinELTSupporters

7. Is there anything else you would like to add?

We are at the beginning of this journey. We, Women of Color in ELT, want to build it together. We are trying to find ways to make this movement open to people who do not identify as WOC so that we can start conversations that matter. We are open to change and criticism. Reach out to us and share your thoughts with us.  I would like to thank you Patrice for giving us the opportunity to share this cause through this platform. We, at WOC in ELT, are so honored to have your support.

On behalf of all Women of Color in ELT who deserve to thrive not just survive.  Peace, radical love, and revolutionary hope.

8. Thank you for trusting me to share information about WOC in ELT.   For more about Parisa, please click here about.me/parisamehran




Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., CPP has more than 23 years experience as an ESL teacher, teacher trainer and writer in Canada. She spent seven amazing years teaching in Hong Kong. Patrice has taught students from 8 to 80 in a variety of programs. Patrice has transitioned out of full-time classroom teaching and now works as a teacherpreneur doing the things she loves such as writing, coaching teachers and presenting at conferences. Patrice’s personal experience with professional burn-out in 2015 prompted her to reflect on her own lack of self-care and adopt positive psychology interventions which she now shares with educators and administrators. Her book Teacher Self-Care Manual: Simple Self-Care Strategies for Stressed Teachers will be available this year.

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