Decolonizing English language learning through interactive storytelling, Part 1

This is a post of quotations from Funie Hsu’s “Resisting the Coloniality of English: A Review of Research Strategies.” There’s an article I aspire to write (hopefully by July 1st) about my MA thesis project, the Creative Arts Team’s Early Learning Program, and “decolonizing” English.

“In investigating these domains, scholars in language studies and TESOL have detailed the establishment of a global narrative of English language supremacy and hegemony (Edge, 2003, 2006; Flores, 2013a; Macedo, 2000, 2017 [this issue]; Motha, 2014), the intersecting elements of colonialism, English, and race (Curtis & Romney, 2006; Flores & Rosa, 2015; Kubota & Lin, 2009; Lin & Luke, 2006), and the relationship between the colonial histories of English and the current phenomena of globalization and neoliberalism (Flores, 2013b; Hsu, 2015; Kubota, 2011; Phillipson, 2008; Piller & Cho, 2013)” (Hsu, 2017, p. 113).


“Maldonaldo-Torres (2007) defines coloniality as the “long-standing patterns of power that emerged as a result of colonialism, but that define culture, labor, intersubjective relations, and knowledge production well beyond the strict limits of colonial administration” (p. 243). Coloniality is a product of “the discovery and conquest of the Americas” (p. 243) and comprises two axes of power: a hierarchical concept of race and the capitalist labor economy (Quijano, 2000)” (Hsu, 2017, p. 114).


“Though much of the research on English language instruction advances a positivist framework and presumes English to be a neutral language (Crystal, 1997), critical researchers argue that English is far from objective. Rather it is imbued with complex dynamics of power” (Hsu, 2017, p. 115).


“To provincialize English would mean that inherent in the learning of English would be an intense awareness of the effects of English’s colonial and racial history on the current-day language, economic, political, and social practices. In recognition that consciousness is only the first step, provincializing English would furthermore examine and critique the mechanisms that sustain the invisibility of race and empire in English language teaching and would explore possibilities for transformation and agency” (Motha as qtd. in Hsu, 2017, p. 116).


“Since the normative, colonial ideologies of English language teaching have othered nonwhite learners as inferior, the knowledge traditions from these communities also have been historically marginalized. Within the theoretical tradition of coloniality, Mignolo (2007) calls for a grammar of decoloniality that emphasizes thinking from the positions of marginality and privileging this intellectual space as not merely valid and coherent, but liberatory. This epistemic turn is understood as the decolonial option” (Hsu, 2017, p. 118).


“What I call Rican-figuring the classroom includes reconfiguring the intellectual and emotional spaces that surround the student, placing the “formal” education in a context that does not deny the reality of the “outside” world…Rican-figuring the classroom includes leaving the “island,” constructing the geography of the “classroom” differently, making a classroom of the world and the body. This is why I devise projects that include moving out of the classroom space. One such project is the trip to nowhere. We got on the subway and ride for 45 minutes, during which we observe and think and write and connect and try out figurative language and juxtapositions…Rican-figuring means knowing that the borderlands are places that are inhabited and full of knowledge and meaning, places where one can work and learn, the space in-between that defies easy definitions of territoriality” (Fiol-Matta as qtd. in Hsu, 2017, p. 119).


“It is impossible to be engaged in the teaching of English to speakers of other languages at the beginning of the 21st century without at one and the same time being engaged in helping one’s students achieve their aspirations and in spporting the linguistic, cultural, commercial and increasingly military dominance of the USA and its allies” (Edge as qtd. in Hsu, 2017, p. 120).


“Postmethod pedagogy consists of the parameters of particularity, practicality, and possibility” (Kumaravadivelu as qtd. in Hsu, 2017, p. 120).


“A student draws from her local and lived experience and combines Spanish and English to form the word grander instead of bigger” (Flores and Rosa as qtd. in Hsu, 2017, p. 122)  […] This approach might foster a new way of listening in the classroom that seeks to make sense of dynamic language process instead of producing punitive linguistic and racial constructs” (Hsu, 2017, p. 122)


Pennycook (1999) proposes a curriculum and “pedagogy of engagement” (p. 340), “an approach to TESOL that sees such issues as gender, race, class, sexuality, and postcolonialism as so fundamental to identity and language that they need to form the basis of curricular organization and pedagogy…A pedagogy of engagement may also integrate the context and the specific knowledges of local sites by incorporating the lived experiences of students and the immediate family into teh curriculum and classroom space” (Hsu, 2017, p. 123).


“We in schools need to encourage immigrant parents to speak their home languages, and most importantly we need to educate our monolingual English-speaking colleagues about the importance of supporting home languages and cultures and ways to promote multilingualism. As educators it is of utmost importance that we work to address the savage inequalities in public schools, particularly promoting two-way bilingual programs and providing all students with the opportunity to engage in international exchange programs and interracial religious camps, conferences, and cross-cultural experiences” (Wong and Motha as qtd. in Hsu, 2017, p. 124).


“In recognition of the fact that identities shaped within the construct of ESOL are inherently racialized, the preparatory and in-service experience of all school administrators and teachers of all disciplines should be grounded in an explicit consciousness of the implications of their practice within a broader colonial and racialized enterprise in order taht they be equipped to make choices accordingly” (Motha as qtd. in Hsu, 2017, p. 125).


“[…] a post-colonial pedagogy is not about following recipes or teaching by numbers: it is about questioning commonsense assumptions, privileging the situatedness of the local knowledge (and pedagogy), and understanding that one size does not fit all” (Shin as qtd. in Hsu, 2017, p. 127).


“[Hari Kondabolu] reminds us that decolonial options also include spaces for playfulness and humor as powerful, creative sources of liberation” (Hsu, 2017, p. 127-128).