Enacting Alternatives to Nationalist Essentialising in Language Learning: Students' Voices

SAGE Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Forum Italicum: a journal of Italian studies, 2020, pp. 1-14
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Researchers examining nationalistic conceptions of language learning argue that nationalist essentialism often shapes the way languages are taught by educators and understood by learners. While numerous studies focus on how frameworks underpinned by Critical Discourse Analysis and intercultural education offer alternative approaches to national stereotyping, these studies tend to focus on theoretical approaches, teacher perspectives or innovative teaching and learning resources. The literature to date, however, does not provide case studies on student responses to activities designed by the teacher to open up the classroom with opportunities that challenge essentialist representations. This paper responds to the need for such scholarship by identifying some of the ways students enact and reflect upon alternatives to nationalist essentialising. Through a case study involving tertiary students in an Italian language and culture subject and underpinned by a CDA framework, the findings suggest that students enacted alternatives to nationalist essentialism through skills and attitudes such as curiosity, the challenging of stereotypical representations, subjectivities and their connections with broader social contexts. Some of the data also indicate student engagement in critical inquiry and potential for social agency.
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