The paper compares two separate classroom ethnographies in higher educational institutions — one, on African-American students learning Academic writing and another on Lankan Tamil students learning English for General Purposes. Explicating the similarities of challenges and responses in English academic literacy for these students, the paper attempts to overcome the separation of the concerns of bilingual and bidialectal minority students in English language teaching. Although both groups of students are initially highly motivated, they experience conflicts for their identity, values, and group membership in internalising an 'alien' discourse. They therefore adopt a formalistic learning approach of mastering the abstract structural rules and ignoring the communicative uses of the language in order to oppose its ideological thrusts. Through this ambivalent strategy, they attempt to attain the English proficiency needed for social mobility while retaining their cultural and ideological integrity. The paper proposes that while minority students should be encouraged to analyse the limitations of their own attitudes and values, the pedagogy should also sustain an interrogation of the ideologies represented by English discourses. Such students should reposition themselves in relation to English and use it according to their own discursive backgrounds in order to empower themselves while pluralising English/academic discourses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language