American textbooks and tamil students: Discerning ideological tensions in the esl classroom

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This paper illustrates how teacher-conducted classroom research can interrogate ideological tensions in the ESL classroom. Using a post-structuralist perspective on language and discourse, the paper interprets the verbal and visual signs constituting the American textbook and the graffiti scribbled by students in the margins. The pedagogical assumption of learning as a value-free utilitarian activity, combined with content that is loaded with urban, technocratic, middle- class values, pose a cultural threat to the Tamil students. Their glosses indicate their preoccupation with a mixture of alternative discourses: Tamil-Saivite culture, political nationalism, romance and sex, and popular ‘film’ culture. The glosses suggest various subtle modes of resistance to the discourses of the textbook. The paper finally explores ways of incorporating the positive elements of students’ culture and styles of learning into a more meaningful and relevant curriculum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-156
Number of pages14
JournalLanguage, Culture and Curriculum
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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