Situating Local Literacies at the core of ELT Curriculum in Higher Education
Keywords:Foreign languages, literacy education, communities, teachers’ role, higher education
This qualitative interpretive study carried out with four EFL teachers in an EAP course at a private university in Bogotá, Colombia addresses the disconnection that exists between curricular content and the life of students in education. From our understanding of literacy as a sociocultural practice we proposed a pedagogy that immersed teachers and students in community explorations to study local issues informed by different disciplines. Therefore, this study describes the ways teachers designed and implemented curriculum using community assets (Kretzmann & McKnight, 2003) to develop student agency. The issues addressed by students in their inquiries included improving civic practices in the cycling route; fostering river preservation; environmental issues with garbage in Bogotá; and possibilities to access higher education for young populations in Colombia. Using a grounded theory approach, we collected and analyzed data from class discussions, curricular units, semi-structured interviews and class observation. Findings reveal that community explorations fostered students’ agency towards studying social issues and promoted the construction of context-embedded opportunities for learning using students’ realities and topics of local relevance (Canagarajah 2005). The target language was used to reflect, pose problems, produce texts and participate in social reflections within an academic environment.
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