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English, Identity and Critical Literacy

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While we hold that cultural colonization in English teaching in the cross-cultural context is a legitimate concern, we argue that when overstretched it tends to ignore the complex power relations within a culture by imposing homogeneity on it. It may also fossilize the role a foreign language can play in a multilingual context, which, we believe, cannot be reduced to simplistic terms of cultural subjugation. We will use an example from the teaching of English argumentation in China to show that English in its contact with Chinese interrupts an otherwise inert cognitive process based on habituation, thus participating in and contributing to the cultivation of critical literacy. Translingual ability is what makes critical literacy possible.
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Keywords: English teaching; colonialism; critical literacy; identity; translingual

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of English,Fudan University, Shanghai, China

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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