Keynote – Victoria Wilson, Lecturer, English Language & Academic Communication, Open Access College, USQ
Victoria Wilson is Manager, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Language and Learning, USQ College and a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland, where she is researching trauma-informed ESL to adults in South East Queensland universities.
She first began investigating this field in 2015 after moving to the refugee welcome zone of Toowoomba, where she teaches and designs courses in ESL and English for Academic Purposes. The diverse student cohort has included international students from Iraq, as well as refugees from Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, DR Congo, and South Sudan. Working with students who had experienced significant trauma, she began looking for ways to minimise their stress in the learning environment, in order to maximise learning and engagement.
Prior to this, Victoria lived and worked in Japan for 7 years, including 3 years in coastal Fukushima. She was living and teaching in Fukushima when the Great North East earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster hit the region in 2011, and continued teaching there in the traumatic aftermath that followed.
When she returned to teaching in Australia, Victoria became troubled by the large amount of commercial ESL teaching materials that dealt with disasters in a way that exacerbated her own post-traumatic stress responses. Realising that many of her students in Toowoomba were survivors of war, terrorism, and the refugee experience, she wanted to find new ways of teaching that would not trigger her students’ or her own PTSD.
As a result, Victoria has spent the past four years intensively researching post-traumatic stress and pedagogy for adult ESL students. She has constructed a framework that combines cross-cultural, trauma-informed principles with critical TESOL. Based on this framework, she is currently collecting data that privileges student voice, a methodology which in itself is both trauma-informed and student-centred.
Victoria has presented widely on trauma-informed ESL at conferences and forums in Australia and in Japan.