Negotiating Language, Culture and Pupil Agency in Complementary School Classrooms

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Lytra, Vally (2011)
  • Publisher: Elsevier

In this paper, I examine the teaching of language and culture and in particular the use of songs as curriculum in two London Turkish complementary schools. Drawing on a series of interconnected classroom vignettes, I look at how children weave together their semiotic resources to negotiate and transform two songs and the talk and action around them during Turkish literacy teaching. I situate these negotiations in the emergent classroom interactional order, the official curriculum and the recurring pedagogical practices of the complementary schools which in turn I link to widely circulating understandings of Turkish language and culture valued in Turkey and among Turkish-speaking transnational communities in London. I explore how through these transformations, children introduce localized understandings of Turkish language and culture into classroom discourse, negotiate an agentive self and bridge complementary school curricular objectives with their own lives. I show how these localized understandings are filtered through the children's personal, family, peer, and transnational experiences and aesthetic preferences and reflect the different ways the children, produce nuanced and sophisticated understandings of Turkish language and culture “as something that is used in the present or that can be projected in the future” as opposed to “something one holds onto to vaguely as one's remembrances” (Garcia, 2005, p. 601). The data illustrate the interplay between pupil agency and social structure involved in “bringing the outside in” classroom discourse.
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