Date of Graduation

Spring 5-14-2020

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education (IME)

First Advisor

Yi Guan

Second Advisor

Sedique Popal


Many view empathy as a necessary skill for relating to different groups of people and successfully communicating across cultures. Research supports empathy’s importance in the education field for promoting positive outcomes in the classroom and fomenting a culturally sensitive class environment. Teaching with empathy is particularly important in the context of adult ESL (English as a Second Language) instruction, given the culturally diverse classroom environment and instructors who likely possess different cultural norms than their students. Regarding effective strategies to teach these students with empathy, however, the research falls short. The mere notion of defining empathy breeds disagreement, as many define the term in varying ways. Its benefits, while proven in K-12 classrooms, remain under-researched in the adult education realm. Finally, little information exists that provide effective strategies to teach with empathy at a school-wide level or to integrate empathy into all aspects of an adult education program. The purpose of this project is to provide new adult ESL instructors with the training they need to teach with empathy, and guide school administrators on how to integrate empathy into their school-wide pedagogy. The project presents a four-lesson training series in two versions—in-class and online—and a follow-up series of tips to school directors on how to prioritize empathy throughout their programs of instruction. The training program was developed using Krashen’s Affective Filter and Milton Bennett’s Developmental Model for Intercultural Sensitivity frameworks.