* Featured Speaker *

Eddies of Hope: How ESL Teachers are Changing the Tide in Health Literacy

A growing body of evidence links limited English proficiency and health literacy to poor health status, inadequate quality of care, higher rates of chronic disease, and excess health care costs. Given these persistent links between language/literacy and health disparities in at-risk immigrant communities, it is unsettling that there are not more established routes to interchange and collaboration between adult ESL educators and health professionals. Moreover, although many current definitions of health literacy have moved beyond a narrow focus on reading/writing skills, both educators and health professionals continue to struggle to identify and account for the unique circumstances that define the health literacy needs of immigrant communities. This interactive talk aims to stimulate reflection and action in response to two broad questions: What are ways we can use our L2 pedagogical expertise to support health literacy initiatives? Can our classroom practices in fact help to promote positive health outcomes in high-risk immigrant communities?

Maricel Santos is Assistant Professor of English at San Francisco State University, where she teaches in the M.A. in TESOL Program and the Ed.D. Program in Educational Leadership. She also is a research scholar supported by a Research Infrastructure in Minority Institutions (RIMI) grant from the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health.  Her research interests include L2 vocabulary acquisition, adult ESL learners in transitional programs, and L2 reading engagement. Her health literacy research explores adult ESL participation as a health-protective factor in transnational immigrant communities.  She has an Ed.D. in Language and Literacy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and an M.A. in TESOL from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.