About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2791-2799
Publication year: 2016
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.0162

Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain

REFLECTING ON SECOND LANGUAGE LITERACIES IN MEDELLÍN: AN EXPLORATION OF ENGLISH IN PHYSICAL SPACES

R.A. Mora, M.C. Mejía-Vélez, N. Ramírez, C. Pulgarín

Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (COLOMBIA)
A common view of cities in Colombia and Latin America assumes that they are “monolingual” (Mora, 2015). This view, present in social imaginaries, language policies, and in the literature in literacy and world languages, tends to project an outward view of second-language literacy practices. For almost two years, a team of researchers in Medellín, Colombia, chose to look at these practices inwardly, describing how English appeared as part of the growing language ecologies (Mora, 2014) of our city. To describe our findings, we proposed the following research question: What kinds of literacy practices can one find in the diverse physical urban spaces in Medellín?

This presentation will share the findings of our journey around Medellín to illustrate how English surfaces in diverse urban spaces. We propose a multidimensional conceptual framework coined “city as literacy” (Mora, 2015) to explain how languages operate as part of the city. This framework draws from New Literacy Studies (Barton & Hamilton, 2000; Street, 1984, 1995) and the questions about literacy practices as situated in diverse contexts. For this stage, we also relied on three contemporary concepts that have studied how languages interact with urban spaces: (a) multimodality (Kress, 2010; Mejía-Vélez & Salazar Patiño, 2014), (b) polylanguaging (Chiquito & Rojas, 2014; Jørgensen, et al, 2011), and (c) metrolingualism (Peláez & M Castaño, 2015; Pennycook & Otsuji, 2015). This conceptual proposal enabled our research team to have a broader perspective to understand language in the city as a complex matter that has a wide richness in meaning and where the city both welcomes texts and produces them as part of the language engagement in different spaces.

The project used an ethnographic approach (Blommaert & Dong, 2010; Heath & Street, 2008; Ramírez & Mora, 2014), as only by walking the city can one discover the complexity of the messages there and from the perspective that, when walking the city with new eyes, we are at the same time experts and novices. Fieldwork, included field notes, photographs, and interviews to discover new texts about English appropriation by Medellín’s inhabitants. We organized our fieldwork relying on what we called physical routes (i.e. attached to particular buildings and static areas of the city), as follows:
a) restaurants,
b) advertising, and
c) malls, bookshops and libraries.

Our findings in the exploration of these routes showed how people are playing with languages, using them as a resources, a means, and as transgression in communication, where modes take an important place in the surfacing texts in urban spaces. The narratives that we discovered in the images and voices that we collected showed that there are now richer forms of English use in these spaces. These voices expressed reasons that expose, for example, how this use in restaurants and shops relates to personal motivations and life histories that are validated through English. Rather than interference, the project has discovered language coexistence in the city; English, more than replacing, complements. The project allowed us to experience living and walking the city from different places to recognize how, through the diversity of the emerging languages, Medellín is no longer monolingual, but a polylanguaged space where more languages seem to be welcome as the consequence of the ongoing social changes and new diasporas present in today’s physical and cultural spaces in our hometown.
@InProceedings{MORA2016REF,
author = {Mora, R.A. and Mej{\'{i}}a-V{\'{e}}lez, M.C. and Ram{\'{i}}rez, N. and Pulgar{\'{i}}n, C.},
title = {REFLECTING ON SECOND LANGUAGE LITERACIES IN MEDELL{\'{I}}N: AN EXPLORATION OF ENGLISH IN PHYSICAL SPACES},
series = {10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2016 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-608-5617-7},
issn = {2340-1079},
doi = {10.21125/inted.2016.0162},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/inted.2016.0162},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {7-9 March, 2016},
year = {2016},
pages = {2791-2799}}
TY - CONF
AU - R.A. Mora AU - M.C. Mejía-Vélez AU - N. Ramírez AU - C. Pulgarín
TI - REFLECTING ON SECOND LANGUAGE LITERACIES IN MEDELLÍN: AN EXPLORATION OF ENGLISH IN PHYSICAL SPACES
SN - 978-84-608-5617-7/2340-1079
DO - 10.21125/inted.2016.0162
PY - 2016
Y1 - 7-9 March, 2016
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2016 Proceedings
SP - 2791
EP - 2799
ER -
R.A. Mora, M.C. Mejía-Vélez, N. Ramírez, C. Pulgarín (2016) REFLECTING ON SECOND LANGUAGE LITERACIES IN MEDELLÍN: AN EXPLORATION OF ENGLISH IN PHYSICAL SPACES, INTED2016 Proceedings, pp. 2791-2799.
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