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ERIC Number: EJ1050176
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Dec
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1175-8708
"Well, Hang On, They're Actually Much Better than That!": Disrupting Dominant Discourses of Deficit about English Language Learners in Senior High School English
Alford, Jennifer H.
English Teaching: Practice and Critique, v13 n3 p71-88 Dec 2014
This paper explores how four English teachers position their English language learners for critical literacy within senior high school curriculum in Queensland, Australia. Such learners are often positioned, even by their teachers, within a broader "deficit discourse" that claims they are inherently lacking the requisite knowledge and skills to engage with intransigent school curricula. As such, English language learners' identity formation is often constrained by deficit views that can ultimately see limited kinds of literacy teaching offered to them. Using Fairclough's (2003) critical discourse analysis method, analysis of 16 interviews with the teachers was conducted as part of a larger, critical instrumental case study in two state high schools during 2010. Five competing discourses were identified: deficit as lack; deficit as need; learner "difference" as a resource; conceptual capacity for critical literacy; and linguistic, cultural and conceptual difficulty with critical literacy. While a deficit view is present, counter-hegemonic discourses also exist in their talk. The combination of discourses challenges monolithic deficit views of English language learners, and opens up generative discursive territory to position English language learners in ways other than "problematic". This has important implications for how teachers view and teach English language learners and their capacity for critical literacy work in senior high school classrooms.
Wilf Malcolm Institute for Educational Research, University of Waikato. PB 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand. Tel: +64-7-858-5171; Fax: +64-7-838-4712; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A