Dialogue for Change - Session #4 – “Navigating Student Emotions and Leading Empathetic Conversations in the Language Classroom”


Thursday, April 22, 2021, 3:00pm to 4:15pm



Dialogue for Change - Session #4 –

“Navigating Student Emotions and Leading Empathetic Conversations in the Language Classroom” - Guest participants: Paola Zanirato-Dorfman and Sarah Mercer


We invite you to attend the final session of our discussion series

“Dialogue for Change


Thursday, April 22nd from 3-4:15pm



Navigating Student Emotions and Leading Empathetic Conversations in the Language Classroom


In any educational setting, human and social reactions are at the centre of effective functioning and empathy is an invaluable skill in nurturing all types of positive relationships, whether they are with pupils, colleagues, parents, or head teachers. However, empathy is especially relevant to language learning, with its focus on communication, cultural diversity, and the centrality of social interactions.” – Sarah Mercer


This session will begin with an interview with SarahMercer, Professor of Foreign Language Teaching at the University of Graz, Austria and Vice-president of the International Association for the Psychology of Language Learning (IAPLL). Her research interests include all aspects of the psychology surrounding the foreign language learning experience and she is the author of many volumes and chapters on positive psychology in second language acquisition including “Seeing the World Through Your Eyes: Empathy in Language Learning and Teaching.” We will learn about her understanding of the notion of empathy as it relates to education, more broadly, and second language learning and teaching, more specifically, given the centrality of relationships, social interaction, communication, and intercultural competence in language learning. She will also provide guidance as to how to

foster empathetic conversations in the language/culture classroom, particularly when there are diverse points of view on global events and issues.



Moving from theory to practice, Paola Zanirato-Dorfman will present practical examples of how we can navigate student emotions and lead empathetic conversations in the Italian language classroom. Following an introduction to the Socio-Emotional Learning Framework, she will model practical lessons and activities that she uses in her own Italian language/culture curriculum. She has presented this work at the Consulate General of Italy in Boston and the Massachusetts Italian Teachers’ Association.
Nicole Mills, Ph.D
Director of Language Programs (Interim)
Coordinator of the French language program
Department of Romance Languages & Literatures


5dialogue_for_change-01-01_04.pdf399 KB