“Well, hang on, they’re actually much better than that!” : disrupting dominant discourses of deficit about English language learners in senior high school English

Alford, Jennifer H. (2014) “Well, hang on, they’re actually much better than that!” : disrupting dominant discourses of deficit about English language learners in senior high school English. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 13(3), pp. 71-88.

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Abstract

This paper explores how four English teachers position their English language learners for critical literacy within senior high school curriculum in Queensland, Australia. Such learners are often positioned, even by their teachers, within a broader “deficit discourse” that claims they are inherently lacking the requisite knowledge and skills to engage with intransigent school curricula. As such, English language learners’ identity formation is often constrained by deficit views that can ultimately see limited kinds of literacy teaching offered to them. Using Fairclough’s (2003) critical discourse analysis method, analysis of 16 interviews with the teachers was conducted as part of a larger, critical instrumental case study in two state high schools during 2010. Five competing discourses were identified: deficit as lack; deficit as need; learner “difference” as a resource; conceptual capacity for critical literacy; and linguistic, cultural and conceptual difficulty with critical literacy. While a deficit view is present, counter-hegemonic discourses also exist in their talk. The combination of discourses challenges monolithic deficit views of English language learners, and opens up generative discursive territory to position English language learners in ways other than “problematic”. This has important implications for how teachers view and teach English language learners and their capacity for critical literacy work in senior high school classrooms.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 79701
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Critical Discourse Analysis, critical literacy, English language learners, deficit discourse, high school English
ISSN: 1175-8708
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Secondary Education (130106)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development (130202)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > LOTE ESL and TESOL Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. Maori) (130207)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Children & Youth Research Centre
Current > Schools > School of Cultural & Professional Learning
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 The Author
Copyright Statement: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.
Deposited On: 06 Jan 2015 00:28
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2015 00:35

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