Helping children acquire critical and inter-ethnic literacy
Syana Harizanova, Nikolina Tsvetkova, Saturday 12.30-13.00

In this presentation we will look at an attempt to use children’s literature to promote tolerance and appreciation of ethnic diversity in Bulgaria. Our country has a significant Roman minority and over the recent years has undertaken a number of measures towards improving the social inclusion of Roma. However, there is still quite a lot of anti-Roma prejudice in society and in spite of the commitment of the government the process of inclusion is neither easy, nor fast. We believe that one way of helping the process is by promoting inter-ethnic tolerance and open-mindedness about the Roma minority from the very first years at school. This could be achieved in different ways but we will consider in more detail the introduction of Roma culture by using adapted English translations of traditional Roma folk tales in the EFL classroom. Our assumption is that stories enhance one’s cultural and inter-cultural awareness, and at the same time build bridges of understanding between individuals irrespective of the differences between them.

Syana Harizanova is a lecturer in English and methodology at New Bulgarian University in Sofia. She has been involved in in-service and pre-service teacher training for over 15 years, most of it related to teaching young learners. Her most recent interests include developing thinking skills and promoting learner autonomy in primary and secondary students.

Nikolina Tsvetkova is a teacher trainer at Sofia University Department of Information and In-service Training of Teachers. She works in the filed of intercultural education, teaching English to young learners and material design. She has taken part in local and international projects and has delivered papers at national and international educational events. Nina has co-authored several locally produced English language coursebooks.