Decolonizing Literacy and English Practices in Mexico

SLA Lecture Series: Critical Approaches to Applied Language Studies

Mario E. López-Gopar
Professor, Faculty of Languages, Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca, Mexico

4:00 pm Central time, Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Register HERE

Abstract: Historically, Mexico has been a multilingual society with (trans)multimodal-lingual literacy practices in place prior to and during the Spanish conquest (Hawkins, 2018; López-Gopar, 2007). Since the beginning of the 20th century, however, Eurocentric and alphabetic literacy practices in Spanish have prevailed (Hernández-Zamora, 2009). More recently, following this Eurocentric influence, the language classroom in Mexico has become synonymous with the “English” classroom with a neoliberal agenda (Sayer, 2015), a disconnection from social issues, and the exclusion of both Spanish and Indigenous languages (López-Gopar et al., 2020). Consequently, prevalent discourses of ‘literacy’ and ‘English’ in connection with information and communication technologies (ICT), which link these concepts to social progress and development, are part of coloniality, the darker side of modernity (Mignolo, 2000).

Within such context and in order to counteract the aforementioned discourses, the purpose of this presentation is two-fold: (1) to present examples of (trans)multimodal-lingual literacy texts created prior to and during the onset of the Spanish conquest of Mexico and (2) to showcase (trans)multimodal-lingual identity texts co-created by future language teachers in collaboration with children from Oaxaca, Mexico. The first objective is based on the analysis of different codices and related literature. The second objective stems from the analysis of the results of an ongoing critical-ethnographic-action-research project, conducted in urban Oaxacan contexts, whose main goal is to foster the existing multilingual and multiliteracies practices which have resisted the discourses of coloniality (López-Gopar, 2016). Using images and videos as semiotic and persuasive devices, the presentation will argue that the discourses surrounding literacy, English, and ICT can still be decolonized if pre-service teachers, in-service teachers and children are (self)regarded as authors of (trans)multimodal-lingual identity texts and authors of their own histories in our current societies.

About the speaker: Mario López-Gopar (Ph.D., OISE/University of Toronto) is professor at Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca. Mario’s main research interest is intercultural and multilingual education of Indigenous peoples in Mexico. He has received over 15 academic awards. His Ph.D. thesis was awarded both the 2009 AERA second language research dissertation award and the 2009 OISE Outstanding Thesis of the year award.  He has published numerous articles and book chapters in Mexico, USA, Canada, Argentina, Brazil and Europe. His latest books are Decolonizing Primary English Language Teaching (Multilingual Matters, 2016) and International Perspectives on Critical Pedagogies in ELT (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019).

Delivery format: The talk will be held on Zoom.

Sponsor: This lecture is part of the Second Language Acquisition Talk Series and is co-sponsored by the Language Institute. Funding is from the Anonymous Fund.

Contact: Jana Martin, Associate Director, Language Institute

The UW-Madison Language Institute is committed to inclusive and accessible programming. To request an accommodation for this event, please contact Jana Martin three business days in advance.