Date of Graduation

Spring 5-15-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

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


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education (IME)

First Advisor

Dr. Sedique Popal


Many adult ESL students have been affected by trauma from various causes, including violence, racism, loss, fear of ICE, and ongoing poverty. For many of these learners, trauma negatively impacts their language acquisition and acculturation. Trauma-Informed Teaching (TI Teaching), which includes Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT), can be effective in meeting the needs of these learners regarding language acquisition and acculturation. Furthermore, it can support their healing. The approach can be effective for those students who have not been affected by trauma, as well. Yet, TI Teaching is not usually provided. Without it, many students do not receive the type of learning environment they need. TI Teaching with adult ESL students is also not taught in most TESOL programs in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is absent from the textbooks used. The literature lacks information on what exactly the model is, how it is implemented, and with what outcomes. Also absent is information on curriculum, why the approach is rarely used, and how teachers can minimize the risk of vicarious traumatization. Trainings on using TI Teaching in adult ESL classes are needed but are not readily available, at least not in the San Francisco Bay Area. The literature points to a wide array of how TI Teaching and CRT are used. In conceptualizing a model, the main component in TI Teaching is increasing the feeling of safety for students. Also examined is the variance in whether or not teachers provide content related to trauma and encourage students' disclosures. Furthermore, the issue of the need for the approach to be a wellness model is also addressed. Vicarious traumatization and other potential barriers to use are briefly discussed. All of these are significant issues, and it is recommended that they are researched further and that TI Teaching is implemented in adult ESL classes, possibly with a different name for the approach.