Critical Ethnography of a Sri Lankan Classroom: Ambiguities in Student Opposition to Reproduction Through ESOL

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Abstract

The article argues that the way in which domination is experienced and oppositional tendencies are formed in classroom life have to be observed closely rather than conceived abstractly. This ethnographic study of 22 tertiary‐level Tamil students following a mandatory English for general purposes (EGP) course reveals that whereas the lived culture displays opposition to the alienating discourses inscribed in a U.S. textbook, the students affirm in their more conscious statements before and after the course their strong motivation to study ESOL. Interpreting this contradiction as reflecting the conflict students face between cultural integrity, on the one hand, and socioeconomic mobility, on the other, the study explains how students' desire for learning only grammar in a product‐oriented manner enables them to be somewhat detached from cultural alienation while being sufficiently examination oriented to pass the course and fulfill a socio‐economic necessity. However, this two‐pronged strategy is an ideologically limiting oppositional behavior that contains elements of accommodation as well as resistance and unwittingly leads students to participate in their own domination. 1993 TESOL International Association

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-626
Number of pages26
JournalTESOL Quarterly
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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