When: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 | 02:30 pm – 04:00 pm
Where: Ponderosa Commons, Room 2012, 6445 University Boulevard.
Presenter: Dr. Carla Janaina Figueredo, Federal University of Goiás, Brazil
Date and Time: Wednesday, July 25, 2018, 2:30 – 4:00 PM
Location: Ponderosa Commons Oak House, Multipurpose Room 2012
Sink or swim? Responsible situated agency constructed by socioeconomically underprivileged students of English in neoliberal Brazil
This presentation discusses the results of a four-year investigation on the neoliberal challenges faced by socioeconomically underprivileged undergraduate students in Brazil who were majoring in English and preparing to become English language teachers. This qualitative study employed the concept of language as a sociocultural and dialogical practice among sociohistorically-oriented subjects, as well as the concepts of responsibility (Bakhtin, 1973, 1999), agency and agency of spaces (Ahearn, 2001; Miller, 2012); it also examines the relationship between these students’ experiences and neoliberalism as seen in language education (Block; Gray; Holborow, 2012; Kumaravadivelu, 2012), and how neoliberalism works in Brazilian contexts (Saad-Filho; Morais, 2018).
The data generated by questionnaires, student essays, classroom observations, semi-structured interviews, oral/written evaluations of language appropriation and teaching performance revealed that the participants’ initiative to engage themselves in diverse outside classroom interactions acted as counter-centralizing forces, or centrifugal forces in Bakhtinian terms (1981). In other words, by exercising their responsible situated agency towards bridging their sociocultural and linguistic gaps in the English language appropriation process, these participants reacted against neoliberal challenges, viewed here as hierarchical centripetal forces (Bakhtin, 1981) that tended to constrain their access to different kinds of capital (Bourdieu, 1986). The study participants were also guided by significant agency of spaces (Miller, 2012), marked by discourses which helped them demystify many dominant ideologies denying their legitimacy as users and teachers of English. However, though these students found different ways to negotiate neoliberal challenges, it is still crucial that the faculty in charge of the investigated context build on existing decolonial practices (Mignolo, 2009) in the classroom. In doing so, more students can become part of “discursive actions” that foster their responsible situated agency towards a more egalitarian society.