CONFERENCIA - Plurilingual and Decolonial Pedagogy for Language Learning and Empowerment: Bridging Theory into Practice in South American language classes.
Recent developments in Applied Linguistics research show the need for language pedagogy that embraces the linguistically and culturally diverse repertoires of language learners. In colonial contexts, such as South America, embracing language learners’ repertoire is not only important but fundamental for empowerment. The detrimental effects of colonialism have negatively impacted how people view and use their own languages, and many language learners share feelings of shame for not being able to speak a “foreign” language fluently, and linguistic insecurity poses barriers for oral development (British Council, 2019). Using the theoretical lenses of decoloniality (Macedo, 2019) and plurilingualism (CoE, 2020), the PluriDigit project envisioned a pedagogical model that engaged learners in oral development by centering their voices. A research team collaborated with 11 refugee/immigrant teachers (4 of English, 4 of French, and 3 of Spanish) in an NGO in São Paulo, Brazil, and co-designed five bi-weekly projects for 13 courses. Two research questions guided the study: 1) To what extent does this emerging pedagogy assist in learners’ oral development in the additional language?, and 2) What are learners’ and teachers’ perceptions of the pedagogy? Data generation included bi-weekly audio and video posts made on the asynchronous platform VoiceThread by 103 language learners for 4 months. Semi-structured interviews with all 11 teachers and a representative sample of 13 students were conducted at the end of the course. Results show that the strength of the emerging pedagogy lied in a non-hierarchical decolonial model for language learning which facilitated bottom-up approaches where learners had control over their own learning, minimizing linguistic insecurity. Moreover, students reported that they felt empowered because their language variation, fluidity and hybridity were highly valued throughout the project. During the presentation, samples of tasks used in the project will be shared and made available for use. The PluriDigit project makes a significant contribution with an emerging decolonial model for language learning from South America which can inform foreign language teaching approaches in other colonial contexts.