The issue of culture in EFL lessons in Brazil : an ethnographic investigation
This thesis is an ethnographic enquiry into the question of culture in the content of EFL lessons. It focuses on day-to-day classroom practice in a Brazilian school for a critical examination of a truism in the language teaching profession: that culture is an integral part of the content of language lessons. Inspired by Bakhtin's (1981,1986) 'dialogism', this thesis conceptualizes syllabus content as multivoiced discourse which is shaped by teachers and learners as they "assimilate, rework, and re-accentuate" words of others (cf. Bakhtin 1986: 89) in the classroom. Its two-part structure reflects the attempt to construct my own critical voice by building both on the data and on the theoretical voices on the topic. Hence, Part One contextualizes the research within its subject area and considers the main ideas (on culture, foreign language education, and classroom research) providing the theoretical basis for the investigation. Chapter I considers the context, topic, scope and relevance of the research and provides an outline of the organization of the entire thesis. Chapter 2 examines the various definitions and uses of the word 'culture' in circulation in language teaching literature over time against the background of the development of the concept in the social sciences. Chapter 3 gives careful consideration to the principles of ethnography guiding this investigation. In Part Two the ethnographic voice takes the lead to narrate and interpret the documentary, interview, and observational material. Chapter 4 considers the research design as related to the context and purposes of the investigation. The analysis of the data developed through chapters 5-8 relates the views of culture - and cultural content - expressed by teachers and pupils, as well as those identified in the textbooks and other school documents, to the content which emerges out of classroom activities. The thesis concludes with an assessment of the contribution it may be able to make to the examination and understanding of foreign language classroom realities.