Critical Literacy, EFL and Citizenship
We believe that a sense of active citizenship needs to be developed and schools have an important role in the process. If we agree that language is discourse, and that it is in discourse that we construct our meanings, then we may perceive the foreign language classrooms in our schools as an ideal space for discussing the procedures for ascribing meanings to the world. In a foreign language we learn different interpretive procedures, different ways to understand the world. If our foreign language teaching happens in a critical literacy perspective, then we also learn that such different ways to interpret reality are legitimized and valued according to socially and historically constructed criteria that can be collectively reproduced and accepted or questioned and changed. Hence our view of the EFL classroom, at least in Brazil, as an ideal space for the development of citizenship: the EFL classrooms can adopt a critical discursive view of reality that helps students see claims to truth as arbitrary, and power as a transitory force which, although being always present, is also in permanent change, in a movement that constantly allows for radical transformation. The EFL classroom can thus raise students’ perception of their role in the transformation of society, once it might provide them with a space where they are able to challenge their own views, to question where different perspectives (including those allegedly present in the texts) come from and where they lead to. By questioning their assumptions and those perceived in the texts, and in doing so also broadening their views, we claim students will be able to see themselves as critical subjects, capable of acting upon the world.
We believe that there is nothing wrong with using the mother tongue in the foreign language classroom, since strictly speaking, the mother tongue is also foreign - it’s not “mine”, but “my mother’s”: it was therefore foreign as I first learned it and while I was learning to use its interpretive procedures. When using critical literacy in the teaching of foreign languages we assume that a great part of the discussions proposed in the FL class may happen in the mother tongue. Such discussions will bring meaning to the classroom, moving away from the notion that only simple ideas can be dealt with in the FL lesson because of the students’ lack of proficiency to produce deeper meanings and thoughts in the FL. Since the stress involved in trying to understand a foreign language is eased, students will be able to bring their “real” world to their English lessons and, by so doing, discussions in the mother tongue will help students learn English as a social practice of meaning-making.
(Source: Adapted from JORDÃO, C. M. & FOGAÇA, F. C. Critical Literacy in The English Language Classroom. DELTA, vol. 28, no 1, São Paulo, p. 69-84, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.scielo.br/pdf/delta/v28n1a04.pdf).
In the sentence, “it’s not ‘mine’, but ‘my mother’s’”, “my mother’s” can be replaced by
- A she
- B her
- C hers
- D yours
- E theirs