Problematizing language conceptions in a decolonial perspective: an experience with student teachers in an english teacher education course at a brazilian university

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Bastos, Pedro Augusto de Lima

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Universidade Federal de Goiás


Drawing on a critical language teacher education experience that aimed to problematize conceptions of language grounded on a decolonial perspective with university student teachers, this study aims: a) to investigate the language ideologies produced by student teachers throughout a critical language teacher education experience; b) to investigate the pedagogical reflections that emerged from this experience. This experience was held in a Brazilian university course that prepares students to become English language teachers. Empirical material generation happened in a language discipline of the last term of this course in fifteen classes of 100 minutes each. Besides me, twelve female student teachers, three male student teachers and the professor responsible for the group participated in the study. The classes followed premises of critical language teaching and critical language teacher education. In the first ten classes, the student-teachers and I problematized language through a diverse set of authentic materials that focused on: language ideologies; language hierarchization and invention; linguistic repertoires; language as power; globalization; coloniality. In the four following classes, student teachers prepared and taught a microlesson of 25 minutes based on the themes studied. In the last class, we reflected upon the experience. The empirical material sources were an initial questionnaire, first and final narratives, classroom activities produced by student teachers, a field diary, classroom interactions, reflective sessions with the professor, a final reflective session, and a final interview, being the last four audiorecorded. Concerning the language ideologies produced throughout the study, I demonstrate chronologically how student teachers’ standpoints towards language are multiple, complex, unstable. They align with or resist to traditional/modern and critical/decolonial language ideologies at different times. This was due to different factors, such as: the way they looked at language use (if only linguistic aspects are taken into consideration and contextual ones being left out); the type of activity developed (if it was a classroom interaction or an assessment activity) and the vocabulary used to problematize modern Linguistics (if it is still the same one we fight against). As for the pedagogical reflections that emerged during this language teacher education experience, four issues are raised by the participants: the detachment between school language and real language; the power of structure on teacher agency; the complexity of dealing with students’ expectations of nativized English; the coloniality of assessment. First, we discuss how normative grammar is still present in our classes and how the language present in textbooks is different from the language used in real contexts, having implications on the concept of authenticity. Second, we debate on how English language teaching is ruled by center-based methodologies and language ideologies, making it harder for teachers to implement more a more decolonial approach. Third, we present how students’ expectations towards nativized English is a strong barrier for a more decolonial practice. Such expectations may have its origins from parental beliefs about language and the societal pressure to learn the Standard language. Lastly, we discuss about assessment and I present how I tried to have a balance between an idealist and a pragmatist position to deal with the praxiologies I work with and the demands that traditional language teaching practice require. In the conclusion, I answer the research questions, discuss the implications of this master’s thesis and present the traces of (de)coloniality present in this study.



BASTOS, Pedro Augusto de Lima. Problematizing language conceptions in a decolonial perspective: an experience with student teachers in an english teacher education course at a Brazilian university. 2019. 179 f. Dissertação (Mestrado em Letras e Linguística) - Universidade Federal de Goiás, Goiânia, 2019.