Tyson Seburn Plenary Speaker

10X: art, queerness, and the choices we have in ELT


“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” From Dunne to Cruz to Banksy’s graffiti, variations of this sentiment have persisted for more than a century and for good reason. Art regularly provides the vehicle to express (disturbing/comforting) perspectives that question the (inherent/perceived) value of socially constructed norms. Queer artists, in particular, (reject/reclaim) views and language often distorted by oppressors. In ELT, we are perfectly situated to do the same given our learner community, who are exploring how they fit into a new linguistic landscape that regularly shows them who they should aim to become. A Queer artist would ask, “But should they aim to become a particular type of English speaker? We have a choice here.”

To celebrate 10 years of BELTA, I’ve selected 10 pieces of queer artwork for us to experience through a virtual gallery walk that exemplify what we as language educators can do through our pedagogy: (comfort the disturbed/disturb the comfortable). We’ll find and explore the space where art, queerness, and language education (connect/collide), where you might come away with new ways of looking at all three, and where we’ll all see that we have choices to make that can (increase/decrease) our learners’ sense of belonging in English.


Tyson Seburn (MA EdTech & TESOL, University of Manchester) is a lecturer in and assistant director of an EAP foundation year at the University of Toronto and tutor on Oxford TEFL Barcelona’s Trinity DipTESOL course. He has volunteered on local and international teacher association committees, most recently IATEFL TDSIG Coordinator. His personal and professional experiences inspired his interest in Queer and racialised ELT experiences, and thus ways to improve practices and materials. He discusses critical and inclusive pedagogies via his (fourc.ca) and social media (@seburnt). He is author of Academic Reading Circles (2015) and How to Write Inclusive Materials (2021).