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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Negotiating the "critical" in a Canadian English for Academic Purposes program Lee, Ena Grace

Abstract

This thesis represents a one-year critical ethnographic case study of an academic literacy program located within a major Canadian university. Pacific University's English for Academic Purposes program distinguished itself from "traditional" English as a Second Language programs in its innovative pedagogical approach. The program staff believed that the understanding of a language lies in the deeper understandings of the culture in which it is embedded. Because of this, the program emphasized the use of a critical dialogic approach to the analysis of how language is shaped by culture and vice-versa. My research revealed, however, that disjunctions existed between the pedagogy as it was conceptualized and the classroom practices of the instructors teaching there. Furthermore, classroom observations conducted over the course of the year suggested that student identities were being constructed and negotiated vis-à-vis those of the instructors and that the discourses of teachers essentialized culture and, in turn, student identities. I argue that the discourses we co-construct in the classroom can (re)create subordinate student identities, thereby limiting students' access not only to language-learning opportunities, but to other more powerful identities. I therefore propose that a reimagining of a critical language teacher identity and the negotiation of critical praxis can concomitantly serve to reimagine student identities in new and emancipatory ways.

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