Reconstructing languages with critical literacy: a case study from Turkey

Presenter: Zeynep Mine Derince

Affiliation: Humboldt University Berlin, Germany

Chosen format: Presentation


The language planning and policy framework implemented in Turkey follows the one nation–one language ideology that dictates the monolingual principle in schools and does not allow linguistic and cultural resources of students to be used for scaffolding purposes. Deriving from this point, this paper introduces a case study aiming at exploring the potential of Critical Literacy (CL) in challenging monolingual approaches to language learning and teaching in an English language classroom at tertiary level in Turkey. Conducted in a School of Foreign Languages (SFL), the study explains how the political and social transformative power of CL reconstructs the language learning process of SFL students (n: 18) who need to master English proficiency in order to study in their departments. By applying strategies and practices informed by CL in their teaching, English teachers (n: 2) redefine the language curriculum and assign roles to students by tapping into their linguistic, socio-cultural as well as political backgrounds. Furthermore, the paper highlights how CL phases explore and recreate the interactions between the students, the texts and the teachers and deconstruct the use of “target-language” in English language curriculum. The paper proposes empowering and enriching experiences and examples from the study with the sociopolitical and linguistic consciousness that students bring to class with them. The CL data further suggest a deeper insight for additional language learning/teaching practices that support plurilingual strategies and that raise criticality on individual and societal levels.