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What has race/ethnicity got to do with EFL (English) teaching?

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Abstract

This article examines the way that some EFL (English as a foreign language) teachers in Green City (South of Brazil) understand and address the issue of cultural plurality as a cross-curricular theme (CPCCT) and issues of race/ ethnicity. The reason that CPCCT is such an important issue in Brazil is that it is a diverse society with a tradition of upholding the myth of racial democracy. The main argument in this article is that, unless teachers have an adequate understanding of issues of race/ethnicity, issues of CPCCT will be addressed inadequately in schools. This article is based on a qualitative research I carried out in the south of Brazil. According to my findings, teachers' own orientations to CPCCT might be associated with the celebration of diversity in Brazil, rather than challenging to deconstruct racism that exists in Brazilian society. Key-words: race/ethnicity; EFL teaching; cultural plurality; critical race theory. It is very tempting to appropriate CRT (Critical Race Theory) as a more powerful explanatory narrative for the persistent problems of race, racism and social injustice. If we are serious about solving these problems in schools and classrooms, we have to be serious about intense study and careful rethinking of race and education. Adopting and adapting CRT as a framework for educational equity means that we will have to expose racism in education and propose radical solutions for addressing it. (Ladson-Billings, 1998, p.22; her emphasis) The major point of CRT is to place race at the center of analysis.
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What has race/ethnicity
got to do with EFL teaching?
Aparecida de Jesus FERREIRA
Universidade Estadual do Oeste do Paraná
Abstract: This article examines the way that some EFL (English as a foreign
language) teachers in Green City (South of Brazil) understand and address the
issue of cultural plurality as a cross-curricular theme (CPCCT) and issues of race/
ethnicity. The reason that CPCCT is such an important issue in Brazil is that it is
a diverse society with a tradition of upholding the myth of racial democracy. The
main argument in this article is that, unless teachers have an adequate understanding
of issues of race/ethnicity, issues of CPCCT will be addressed inadequately in
schools. This article is based on a qualitative research I carried out in the south of
Brazil. According to my findings, teachers’ own orientations to CPCCT might be
associated with the celebration of diversity in Brazil, rather than challenging to
deconstruct racism that exists in Brazilian society.
Key-words: race/ethnicity; EFL teaching; cultural plurality; critical race theory.
It is very tempting to appropriate CRT (Critical Race Theory) as a
more powerful explanatory narrative for the persistent problems of race,
racism and social injustice. If we are serious about solving these
problems in schools and classrooms, we have to be serious about intense
study and careful rethinking of race and education. Adopting and
adapting CRT as a framework for educational equity means that we will
have to expose racism in education and propose radical solutions for
addressing it. (Ladson-Billings, 1998, p.22; her emphasis)
The major point of CRT is to place race at the center of analysis.
(Parker, 1998, p. 45)
INTRODUCTION
The PCN-FL in Brazil gives particular emphasis to
Cultural Plurality, and within this race/ethnicity is an
important issue (BRASIL, 1998a, 1998b). In addition, recent
legislation (Law 10.639) passed on 9th January 2003 made the
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discussion of History and Afro-Brazilian and African Culture
compulsory in Brazilian schools (BRASIL, 2003; 2004; 2005).
The content should be discussed in all school curricula
especially in the subjects of Arts, Literature, and Brazilian
History. I believe that FL (foreign language) also has a
responsibility to address issues of promoting equality in
terms of race/ethnicity (Auerbach, 1995; Block, 2003; Ferreira,
2004; Hooks, 1994; Kubota, 2002; Moita Lopes, 2002, 2003;
Pennycook, 2001; Starkey & Osler, 2001). In this article I will
discuss the issue of EFL (English as a foreign language) and
race/ethnicity. I examine teachers’ perceptions of cultural
plurality as a cross curricular theme (CPCCT)1 and race/
ethnicity. In order to examine teachers’ accounts I will use
some of the ideas of the conceptual framework of Critical
Race Theory applied to the field of education. The quotations
with which I started this article by Ladson-Billings and
Parker shed light on the way that I will be examining my data
(Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995; Ladson-Billings, 1998; Ladson-
Billings, 1999; Tate, 1997). As this article is intended to
explore teachers’ perceptions and experiences with regard to
race/ethnicity, I first outline my understanding of race/
ethnicity. Second, I discuss the complexities of engaging with
race, ethnicity and colour in the Brazilian context. Third, I
explore the meaning of the myth of racial democracy and
introduce the methodology I used to collect and analyze the
data. Fourth, I present teachers’ general perceptions of CPCCT
and teachers’ perceptions of race/ethnicity in the context of
EFL. Finally, I provide some considerations reflecting on the
implications of the outcomes provided by EFL teachers. I
argue that unless teachers have an adequate understanding
of issues of race/ethnicity, issues of CPCCT will be addressed
1In this article I will use CPCCT (cultural plurality as a cross-curricular
theme) to refer in general teachers’ understanding of CPCCT referring
to PCN (National Curriculum Parameters). I will be using race/
ethnicity to refer to teachers’ understanding of the specific issue of
race/ethnicity as a sub-theme within CPCCT.
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inadequately in schools.
RACE/ETHNICITY: THE USE OF TERMINOLOGY
The terminology in the field of race is very sensitive,
and race is still a problematic term because it carries with it the
notion of biologically distinct species. In this article I use the
term race “to denote its contested and socially constructed
nature” (Gillborn, 2002, p.55). It is important to distinguish
between the terms race and ethnicity. Gillborn (1995),
researching in the field of antiracism, states that “‘race’ is
usually associated with physical differences (phenotype)
such as skin colour, while ‘ethnic’ refers to groups set apart by
a shared cultural identity (e.g. on the basis of language,
religion or history). However, the terms are often used
interchangeably” (p.4; his emphasis). Thus, according to
Gillborn (1995, p.1), although the discussion of race seems to
be obvious, it is in fact “complex and dynamic” and at the
same time dangerous to contemporary society, for the
discourse of race is always changing, as Kincheloe & Steinberg
(1997, p.176) explain:
racism is virus-like. While we can identify particular
prototypes of racism and come to understand the ways
they interact in the lived world, it is more difficult to
appreciate that a virus-like racism is always mutating,
taking on new forms and posing new dangers.
The new dangers in contemporary society and in this
new millennium according to researchers in the field are
related to the racism built on the bases of cultural and identity
differences. So it means that racists and anti-racists have the
same aim that is based in the respect of cultural differences
(Munanga, 2003; see also Gillborn & Youdell, 2000).
The concepts of race/ethnicity that I used in my research
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were related to social construction (Gillborn, 1995). Thus I did
not take into consideration the concept or idea of race as a
synonym of some biological features/type, or markers such
as skin colour, hair texture, facial features and stature, that
could define differences in people related to their intelligence
for instance. Race is not a biological given, but a historically and
socially constructed phenomenon (Apple, 1999; Gomes, 2003;
Munanga, 2003).
THE COMPLEXITIES OF ENGAGING WITH RACE, ETHNICITY AND COLOUR
This section is intended to clarify my own position in
relation to engaging in the discourse of race, ethnicity and
colour. Discussions about race, ethnicity and colour in
the Brazilian context are very complex because even the
terminology itself can lead to misunderstandings about
these issues. In the Brazilian context the term ‘black’ is
associated with skin colour and physical features rather
than with ancestry. Writing about the issue of colour
[cor], Telles (2002, p.421) has made the following
observation:
Colour/cor captures the Brazilian equivalent of the English
language term race and is based on a combination of
physical characteristics including skin colour, hair type,
nose shape and lip shape with the non-white categories
having negative connotations. (…) In Brazil, the word
colour (cor) is often preferred to race (raça) because it
captures the continuous nature of Brazilian racial concepts
in which groups shade into one another.
Gomes (1995) argues that in Brazil ethnicity is a more
appropriate term than race because of the specific Brazilian
cultural and historical background. Cashmore (1984,
p.102) points out that, “The ethnic group is based on a
commonness of subjective apprehension, whether about
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origins, interests […] (or a combination of these)”.
Although theoretically I agree that race is a socially
constructed phenomenon, it is necessary to understand the
importance of issues of ethnicity as well because it is not
possible to understand contemporary inequalities in relation
to race such as racism, institutional racism, prejudice and
discrimination without reference to history and ancestry.
Although I take this position, it is also necessary to clarify that
it can carry with it the danger of essentialism, which can be
defined as “a notion of ultimate essence that transcends
historical and cultural boundaries” (Brah, 1992, p.126).
Kincheloe & Steinberg (1997, p.22) also point out that:
“Essentialism is a complex concept that is commonly
understood as the belief that a set of unchanging properties
(essences) delineates the construction of particular category”.
In this article I will tend to use the words ‘black’ and
‘white’. I will use this terminology because as I explained
above there are racialized discourses of colour in Brazil:
people refer to ‘colour’ [cor] when they are referring to race.
Although I will use the words ‘black’ and ‘white’ to describe
my informants, it is necessary to acknowledge that there is a
potential problem with this because it constitutes a single
‘black-white’ binary identification in a country in which
people have self-identified 136 gradations of colour. The
gradations of colours were identified by the IBGE in the
census used by Brazilians when they had to self-identify in
1976 (Schwarcz, 1998). However, there were some informants
in the questionnaire who self-identified as mulatto, as it will
be possible to notice later in the section of the methodology.
In the next section I will discuss the ‘myth of racial democracy’.
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THEMYTH OF RACIAL DEMOCRACY
The purpose of this section is to provide a brief historical
background to the so-called ‘myth of racial democracy’ as it
has developed in Brazil. The ‘official’ history of Brazil started
with the arrival of the Portuguese in April 1500. The
Portuguese started bringing African people to Brazil as slaves
in the 1520s. Today, Brazil has the world’s second largest
black population after Nigeria (Heringer, 2000, p.4).
According to Prandi (2002, p.52), between 1525 and
1851 more than five million African people were brought to
Brazil in a condition of slavery. Slavery was abolished in
1888, Brazil being the last country in the world to abolish the
practice (Heringer, 2000, p.2). Subsequent European
immigration to Brazil was an attempt by the Brazilian
government to ‘whiten’ the national population in the late
19th century (Heringer, 2000, p.2). This strategy was based on
facilitating white Europeans to immigrate to Brazil. This
desire to ‘whiten’ the population was also encouraged through
intermarriage to produce ‘lighter-skinned’ children (Telles,
2002, p.418). The Brazilian elite, through government policies,
did not want Brazil to have the status of a second-class
country in the eyes of the rest of the world because the
majority of the population were non-white (Telles, 2002,
p.418). The attempt to ‘whiten’ Brazilian society was
unsuccessful and consequently the government projected an
image of ‘racial democracy’ to the world (Cashmore, 1984;
Ferreira, 2005; Heringer, 2000; Telles, 2002). However, the
idea of ‘racial democracy’ is a myth in reality because there is
little equality of treatment for Afro-Brazilians descendants.
The Brazilian population in 2004 was 178 million
inhabitants. The tables below are intended to show some
aspects of Brazilian society related to colour/ethnic groups.
The distribution of population by colour and race according
to the classification provided by the IBGE (Brazilian Institute
of Geography and Statistics) is 55.2 percent of White (Euro-
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Brazilian descendants); 6.0 percent of Black (Afro-Brazilian
descendants), 38.2 percent of Mulatto (mixed race of white
and black, Afro-Brazilian descendants), 0.4 Yellow (Asian
descendants) and 0.2 Native Brazilian Indians (Heringer,
2000, p.5). In relation to this census I want to make clear that
it does not include people who haven’t declared their colour.
Likewise, it leaves out the population of the rural areas of
Rondônia, Acre, Amazonas, Roraima, Pará and Amapá, which
may account for the low percentage of Native Brazilian
Indians. However, I want to make clear that although this
research discusses issues of race/ethnicity it focuses on Afro-
Brazilian descendants.
In relation to the figures above it is clear that:
a) Brazil is not a “blended” nation in terms of race. In
Brazil there is still a clear distinction in terms of ethnic groups.
b) A significantly large proportion of the population is
made up of Afro-Brazilian descendants.
The table below (Table 1) shows the number of school
years by colour for people aged 15 years old or more in 1996.
The second table (Table 2) shows the number of students
entering Federal universities by colour/ethnic group.
Table 1: Number of school years by colour. Adapted from Heringer
(2000, p.1)
Number of school years by colour, people 15 years old or more. Brazil, 1996
Percentage (%)
Number of school years whites blacks mulattos Total
Less than 1 year/never went to school 11.8 26.2 23.4 16.7
1 - 3 years 13.3 18.5 19.5 15.9
4 - 8 years 43.8 41.3 40.7 42.4
9 - 11 years 20.3 11.2 13.3 17.2
12 years and more 10.9 2.4 2.8 7.5
No information 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
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Table 1 clearly shows the disparity that still exists in
terms of colour in Brazilian society. Challenging the ‘myth of
racial democracy’, it exposes the inequality of Brazilian
population by ethnicity, showing that on the average white
people (Europeans descendants) have more years’ access to
school as compared to black and mulatto people (Afro-
descendants).
Table 2 below presents the rate of entrance at some of
the most prestigious and highly competitive public
universities in Brazil by ethnicity, and is another example of
the way inequality in relation to race operates.
Table 2: Percentage of students’ entrance to Federal and State
universities in Brazil. Adapted from Guimarães (2003a, p.204).
The tables above clearly indicate the inequality that
exists in Brazil concerning Afro-Brazilians as to access to
education. According to Gandin , “The ‘myth of racial
democracy’ that has been reproduced historically in Brazil is
easily destroyed when we add racial analysis” (p.7). The
figures in Tables 1 and 2 are examples of the fact that if we
“add racial analysis” to statistics, it is possible to highlight the
inequality in terms of opportunities between Afro-Brazilian
and Euro-Brazilians descendants in contemporary Brazil.
UFRJ UFPR UFMA UFBA Unb USP
Southeast South North Northeast Centre-West Southeast
Rio de Paraná Maranhão Bahia Brasília São Paulo
Janeiro
White
(Euro-descendants) 76.8 86.5 47 50.8 63.7 78.2
Black
(Afro-descendants) 20.3 8.6 42.8 42.6 32.3 8.3
Yellow
(Asian-descendants) 1.6 4.1 5.9 3 2.9 13.0
Native Brazilian
Indian 1.3 0.8 4.3 3.6 1.1 0.5
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100
% of population
who are black 44.63 20.27 73.36 74.95 47.98 27.4
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THE CONTEXT OF THE RESEARCH AND METHODOLOGY
This research took place in a city in southern Brazil,
which I shall call Green City. The city inhabitants are mainly
descendants of immigrants from Germany, Italy and Poland.
It is my contention that this fact is highly significant because
teachers will be referring to these aspects of their own cultural
context. Thus, the cultural context will help to underpin my
analysis.
Green City has 40 state schools (including elementary
and high schools), which employed 107 EFL teachers during
the time that my data research was collected in 2002. A total
of 46 teachers answered my questionnaire and six teachers
among them were my main informants, providing me
interviews. Their names are all fictitious.
Informants
Interview and questionnaire colour/race
Ame white
Barbara white
Carmen black
Daniel black
Elisa black
Fabia white
I also brought the contribution from three teachers who
only answered the questionnaire. I used those three teachers’
responses, because they brought significant contribution.
Those teachers were identified by numbers because they
were not interviewed. Those teachers were:
Informants - questionnaire colour/race
Teacher 29 (questionnaire 29) - male mulatto
Teacher 42 (questionnaire 42) - female mulatto
Teacher 46 (questionnaire 46) - female white
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In relation to the teachers’ colour/race, I asked them to
identify themselves according to the IBGE classification,
since it is the official system of classification of colour/race in
Brazil. However, I do recognize that there is a conflict when
Brazilian people have to self identify as discussed in the
section above about the complexities of engaging with race,
ethnicity and colour.
I analyzed teachers’ responses using qualitative
methodology. My research was intended to answer the
following question: How do EFL teachers understand and
address issues of cultural plurality as a cross-curricular theme
and race/ethnicity in education?
TEACHERSPERCEPTIONS OF CPCCT
One of my main arguments in this study is that, unless
teachers have an adequate understanding of issues specific to
race/ethnicity, issues of CPCCT2 in schools will not be
adequately addressed. Teachers’ perceptions are important
because it is their understanding of the issue that is going to
make it possible to implement the National Curriculum
Parameters (PCN) policy in the schools. In other words, it is
essential that these teachers understand the PCN (and
specifically in this study race/ethnicity) so that they are able
to implement it in the classroom. In this section I will examine
some teachers’ accounts to draw a picture of their perceptions.
These perceptions were categorized in terms of CPCCT and
race/ethnicity in the EFL context.
Perceptions of CPCCT: overview of general responses
EFL teachers’ opinions of the CPCCT seem to be
influenced by what is written in the PCN, a very broad
document that is open to multiple interpretations. Ladson-
2CPCCT – Cultural Plurality as a Cross Curricular Theme.
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Billings & Tate (1995, p.61), introducing Critical Race Theory
(CRT) to the educational field, explain that:
Current practical demonstrations of multicultural
education in schools often reduce it to trivial example and
artefacts of cultures such as eating ethnic or cultural
foods, singing songs or dancing, reading folktales, and
other less than scholarly pursuit of the fundamentally
different conceptions of knowledge or quests for social
justice.
Although Ladson-Billings & Tate’s findings about the
way that teachers interpret multicultural education are taken
from the U.S.A. context, it seems to conform to the description
provided by some of my informants in the Brazilian context.
Most of the discussions in Brazil relating to CPCCT refer to
multicultural education, critical multicultural education,
intercultural education, and critical intercultural education,
and very few include an analysis of anti-racist education. It
seems that all the teachers in my sample believe that CPCCT
is a way of understanding differences solely connected to
habits, culture, music, dance, and the like:
CPCCT is to know about the several ethnic aspects that exist in
the world. (Ame, white teacher, questionnaire)
CPCCT means the various cultures that exist in the world so
that students can have a broad understanding of their own
culture. In English as FL, I taught students the themes of health,
food, values, family values (...) (Ame, interview)
CPCCT is about cultural aspects, a mix of cultures. (Barbara,
white teacher, questionnaire)
My impression of CPCCT is the habits of several countries and
races. (Barbara, interview)
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This pattern apparently reflects what some researchers
have found in other circumstances. Troyna (1992, p.74)
criticised multicultural education in England because he
found that teachers were teaching students based on “The 3
Ss interpretation of multicultural education (Saris, Samosas
and Steel bands)”. It appears that the aspects identified by
Troyna are replicated in the teachers’ responses in my research
as an indication of the cultural differences between students
and other cultures:
The issue of race/ethnicity is very important, not just in EFL but
in any language, because skin colour is an irrelevant physical
aspect in relation to the valorisation of a human being. (Ame,
questionnaire)
It seems that for some teachers CPCCT is merely a way
of relating the various cultural aspects that exist in Brazil:
CPCCT is interesting […] I don’t remember the name of the
author but someone once said that Brazil is made up of many
‘Brazils’ […]. This issue (race/ethnicity) has to be taught in our
country, particularly because it is such a mixture. Culturally,
we have all races here. I believe that it is the country that has the
greatest mixture in all senses: dance, habits, food, the way we
dress and so on. [...] The issue has to be taught particularly in
Brazil, because we have all races here [...] race/ethnicity is
interesting as an issue because it is possible to teach about the
differences and how to live with the differences. (Elisa, black
teacher, interview)
In expressing her view about Brazilian culture, Elisa
touches on the view that ‘Brazil is made of many Brazils’. She
believes that in Brazil all races can be found, through the
aspects of diversity of food, dance and so on. Elisa recognizes
the need to teach “about the differences and how to live with
the differences”. However, what is not clear in her statement
is how she understands “living with differences”. For example,
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should one accept the ‘differences’ or try to make students
more aware of the “differences” in terms of the inequalities
that exist in Brazil in relation to Afro-Brazilian descendants
and Euro-Brazilian descents? Barbara provides another
example:
CPCCT is very interesting because we can say Brazil is the
symbol of cultural plurality I believe that. I mean you have
everything here, you have people of several colours, there are
even ‘black’ Japanese, mixed race Brazilians. (Barbara, white
teacher, interview)
In the above statement, it seems that Barbara is
supporting the ‘myth of racial democracy’ and colour-
blindness. It appears that Barbara cannot understand that
working with CPCCT might also be a way of discussing the
stereotypical view of race/ethnicity in Brazil. Moreover, she
uses the example of two ethnic minorities to exemplify the
ethnic mixture in Brazil (i.e. black and Japanese). In addition,
her use of the word ‘even’ can convey a negative meaning to
what she is saying. In the extract below it seems that teacher
Daniel, who is black, presents an alternative orientation:
In relation to CPCCT, people pretend that it does not exist
(racism), that there is no necessity to speak about it. It is
something that is accepted, people make jokes (about black
people) you have to ignore. People make pejorative comments
and it becomes speculation, but it seems like jokes. So I think that
Brazilian people ‘give that Brazilian way’3 to everything.
(Daniel, black teacher, interview)
Daniel’s view about CPCCT is very different from most
of the teachers above. He does not believe that Brazil is a
symbol of CPCCT. Daniel provides an example of how the
3Brazilian way (jeitinho Brasileiro): when people break the rules and it
is accepted.
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‘myth of racial democracy’ and colour-blindness occurs in
reality on a day-to-day basis in Brazilian society. People make
pejorative jokes concerning the colour of black people and it
is implied by society that this should be accepted.
The aspects pointed out by Barbara and Daniel seem to
show, in very different ways, that the aspect of colour-
blindness and ‘the myth of racial democracy’ still operates.
Parker, a critical race theorist, explains that:
Critical race theory exposes the color-blind position to the
light. Through narratives and other historical evidence, it
documents minority student exclusion and the ways some
have had to compromise their race to survive at
predominantly white colleges and universities. (Parker,
1998, p.49)
Parker’s quotation supports Daniel’s comments that
black students in Brazil have to be silent when other students
make pejorative jokes. Teachers’ interpretations of CPCCT
seem to reinforce Ladson-Billings & Tate’s (1995) criticism of
multicultural education. Teachers’ accounts also support one
of my arguments that, if discussions related to race/ethnicity
should occur, the ‘terms’ used need to be explicit. This means
that using CPCCT with the aim to address race/ethnicity
might be wrongly interpreted, as was shown by the teachers’
accounts in this section.
Perceptions of race/ethnicity
the EFL context
In this section I will examine teachers’ perceptions in
relation to race/ethnicity and EFL. An overwhelming majority
of my questionnaire informants (87%) stated that it is
important to discuss the issue of race/ethnicity in the EFL
classroom. Although a majority of teachers acknowledged
the importance of discussing the issue of race/ethnicity in
their lessons, it seems that their orientations were different.
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For some teachers, a way of addressing the issue of
race/ethnicity would be to try to connect it to some specific
course content that they had to deliver to students. Ame’s
strategy was to talk about colours as content in the EFL lesson
(red, blue, etc.):
I did not teach the way I would like to about the issue of ‘black
people’. I touched on the issue (race/ethnicity) when I worked on
colours in EFL lessons. It was not a deep discussion where
students could reflect. We had a discussion about several races
and about prejudice. I think it is very important to discuss it.
(Ame, white teacher, interview)
Although she suggested that they did not discuss the
issue deeply, it was a starting point that made her think about
the importance of discussing race/ethnicity in the EFL
classroom. For other teachers, discussing race/ethnicity means
increasing the familiarity with the language:
It is important to discuss the issue of race/ethnicity in EFL
classrooms so that students do not think that English is
just translation, but also information, and awareness
(consciousness raising). (Barbara, white teacher,
questionnaire)
In Barbara’s view, the EFL classroom can be used as an
arena to discuss the issue, relating the subject to students and
making them aware of the issue. Yet, in her comments it also
appears that the idea of EFL as ‘translation’ could be one of
the assumptions in the way her students, and perhaps herself,
understand EFL. For some teachers, the discussion is about
breaking down taboos, and discussing topics that are
considered controversial:
It is important because we work with very diverse students,
where races, habits and beliefs are mixed. It is also important to
smash some taboos relating to race. (Carmen, black teacher,
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questionnaire)
It is relevant. However, it is a complicated issue if you are
working with a highly controversial issue, which is also hidden
by society. (Daniel, black teacher, questionnaire)
Carmen’s and Daniel’s views conform to Tatum’s
findings:
The first source of resistance, race as a taboo topic, is an
essential obstacle to overcome if class discussion is to
begin at all. Although many students are interested in the
topic, they are often most interested in hearing other
people talk about it, afraid to break the taboo themselves.
(Tatum, 1996, p.325; see also Carrington & Short, 1989,
p.26)
As Carmen and Daniel pointed out, discussing the
issue in class might be a way of breaking taboos and discussing
controversial topics. The taboo and controversial issue that
Carmen and Daniel mentioned might also be related to the
legacy of the ‘myth of racial democracy’ that still exists in
Brazil:
The racial democracy ideology created a taboo identifying
the masking of its antiracist pretence as a reverse racist
attack on antiracism. This phenomenon has an effect of
supreme importance to the maintenance of the status quo:
It robs those excluded of the legitimacy of their protest
against discrimination, placing on their shoulders the
onus of the very racism that operates their exclusion.
(Nascimento, 2004, p.870).
In the following accounts of Elisa and Fabia, they
recognise the need for discussion of the issue, considering it
important for the Brazilian context, and also relating to what
is discussed worldwide:
227
Aparecida de Jesus Ferreira
Linguagem & Ensino,v.10,n.1,p.211-233,jan./jun.2007
It is extremely important, above all in our country, where the
majority are black and mulatto, and we don’t acknowledge that.
(Elisa, black teacher, questionnaire)
It is important that we make students aware that this is a
worldwide issue, not just in Brazil. (Fabia, white teacher,
questionnaire)
Although a majority of questionnaire respondents
acknowledged the importance of the discussion, a tiny
minority (three teachers) said that it was not important to
discuss the issue of race/ethnicity in EFL classrooms. Some
of their responses were as follows:
It is not important, because what really matters is the culture of
EFL. (mulatto teacher 29, male, questionnaire)
It is not important, because students are not interested in these
issues. (mulatto teacher 42, female, questionnaire)
It is not important, because the knowledge of EFL that students
have is so precarious. It is better to approach it in another subject.
(white teacher 46, female, questionnaire)
These responses seem to suggest that it is not the
responsibility of EFL teachers to address such issues. The
views of the teachers above might also indicate teachers’ own
fears of dealing with the issue. Teacher 42, for example,
makes assumptions about the way that students might
respond. Teacher 29 seems to be more worried about cultural
aspects related to EFL. Teacher 46 also seems to believe that
the issue should be ‘approached in another subject’ but seems
unable to understand that all subjects have the responsibility
of promoting equality in terms of race/ethnicity. The
responses clearly show the need of addressing the issue of
race/ethnicity in teacher education courses (Cameron, 1992;
Connolly, 1998; Ferreira, 2002; Guimarães, 2003b; Gomes &
228
What has race/ethnicity got to do with EFL teaching?
Linguagem & Ensino,v.10,n.1,p.211-233,jan./jun.2007
Silva, 2002; hooks, 1994; Lopez, 2003b; Milner, 2003; Osler &
Starkey, 2000).
FINAL CONSIDERATIONS
I will make and attempt to answer my research question
which is, How do EFL teachers understand and address
issues of cultural plurality as a cross-curricular theme and
race/ethnicity in education? According to my findings, the
responses provided by teachers show that teachers’ own
orientations to CPCCT varies. However, there are some
factors that influence their perceptions. One factor is in
relation to CPCCT, and is associated with learning about the
cultural aspects of the ‘other’ related to EFL, the celebration
of ‘diversity’ in Brazil, rather than challenging and
deconstructing the racism that exists in Brazilian society.
Teachers’ perceptions also seem to relate to the Brazilian
historical context. By this I mean the construction of the ‘myth
of racial democracy’ and the fact that colour-blindness is very
clear in some teachers’ voices.
In relation to race/ethnicity, teachers’ perceptions seem
to reflect two important points of view. First, it seems that
teachers’ worries in terms of the issue of race/ethnicity in
relation of EFL were about discussing the specific content of
EFL lessons, for example colours as content, but not the issue
of race/ethnicity as a planned theme to be discussed and
included in the EFL classes. Second, it was also evident that
teachers were worried about discussing an issue that many of
them considered to be a “taboo”, or “controversial” issue. My
findings seem to reinforce my argument that teachers’
understanding of CPCCT might be a factor that affects their
understanding of race/ethnicity.
229
Aparecida de Jesus Ferreira
Linguagem & Ensino,v.10,n.1,p.211-233,jan./jun.2007
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[Recebido em dezembro de 2005
e aceito para publicação em maio de 2006]
Título: O que raça/etnia tem a ver com o ensino de inglês como língua estrangeira?
Resumo: Este artigo examina a forma que alguns professores de EFL (Inglês como
língua estrangeira) em uma cidade da região Sul do Brasil entendem e consideram
o tema pluralidade cultural como um tema transversal e o assunto acerca de raça/
etnia. Pluralidade cultural é um assunto importante porque o Brasil é uma
sociedade diversa com uma tradição do mito da democracia racial. Neste artigo,
minha argumentação principal é que a menos que os professores tenham uma
compreensão adequada de assuntos relacionados à raça/etnia, assuntos relacionados
à pluralidade cultural serão implementados inadequadamente nas escolas. Este
artigo tem como base uma abordagem qualitativa de pesquisa. De acordo com os
meus resultados a orientação dos professores com relação à pluralidade cultural tem
uma tendência a estar associada com a celebração da diversidade no Brasil, do que
desafiar e desconstruir o racismo existente na sociedade brasileira.
Palavras-chave: raça/etnia; ensino de língua inglesa; pluralidade cultura; teoria
racial crítica.
234
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... Sobre o primeiro ponto, Swain (2013) indica que as emoções têm sido negligenciadas nas pesquisas sobre ensino-aprendizagem de línguas e, dados que elas têm implicações significativas neste processo, é preciso desenvolver estudos sobre a temática. Quanto ao segundo tópico citado, as questões étnico-raciais, muitos autores da linguística aplicada (OSLER e STARKEY, 2000;FERREIRA, 2007) têm destacado a necessidade de que as salas de aula de línguas se coloquem como espaços de enfrentamento ao racismo. Este trabalho colocará em pauta ambas questões, por meio da descrição e discussão da experiência de um workshop sobre línguas indígenas brasileiras realizado no contexto de um curso de inglês. ...
... Osler & Starkey (2000) defendem que qualquer curso, inclusive o de língua estrangeira, que procura construir um ensino para a democracia deve considerar o racismo como uma barreira para a participação integral na cidadania e necessita oportunizar que os estudantes explorem os assuntos de identidade. Ferreira (2007) argumenta que as disciplinas de línguas estrangeiras também carregam a responsabilidade de abordar tópicos que promovam igualdade em termos de raça/etnia. A autora destaca a necessidade de se repensar os propósitos da educação e de engajar os estudantes em atividades que favoreçam uma ação social transformadora da realidade e que haja promoção da igualdade racial e étnica. ...
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... 471). Unfortunately, though, these are the topics that certain mainstream ELT avoids tackling head-on (Alim et al., 2016;Bacon, 2017;Carey, 2014;de Jesus Ferreira, 2007;Godley et al., 2015;Gorski, 2011;Kubota, 2020;Kumaravadivelu, 2016) but which have to be constantly highlighted. In a different but related context, Viesca (2013) maintains that both racism and linguicism need to be unearthed from their surreal obscurity and brought under a magnifying glass. ...
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... Esta visão da pedagogia também vai ao encontro da Educação Antirracista tal como defendida por Ferreira (2001Ferreira ( , 2004Ferreira ( , 2014Ferreira ( , 2016, , Cavalleiro (2001), dentre outras. Na perspectiva das autoras, educação antirracista faz referência ao uso de estratégias várias nos âmbitos organizacionais, pedagógicos e curriculares que visam promover a igualdade racial e combater todas as formas de opressão, seja pessoal, seja institucional (TROYNA & CARRINGTON, apud FERREIRA, 2012). ...
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... 345). Ferreira (2007) argued that: ...
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