Situating Local Literacies at the core of ELT Curriculum in Higher Education

Keywords: Foreign languages, literacy education, communities, teachers’ role, higher education


This qualitative interpretive study carried out with four EFL teachers in an EAP course at a private university in Bogotá, Colombia addresses the disconnection that exists between curricular content and the life of students in education. From our understanding of literacy as a sociocultural practice we proposed a pedagogy that immersed teachers and students in community explorations to study local issues informed by different disciplines. Therefore, this study describes the ways teachers designed and implemented curriculum using community assets (Kretzmann & McKnight, 2003) to develop student agency. The issues addressed by students in their inquiries included improving civic practices in the cycling route; fostering river preservation; environmental issues with garbage in Bogotá; and possibilities to access higher education for young populations in Colombia.  Using a grounded theory approach, we collected and analyzed data from class discussions, curricular units, semi-structured interviews and class observation. Findings reveal that community explorations fostered students’ agency towards studying social issues and promoted the construction of context-embedded opportunities for learning using students’ realities and topics of local relevance (Canagarajah 2005). The target language was used to reflect, pose problems, produce texts and participate in social reflections within an academic environment. 



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Author Biographies

Yuly Andrea Nieto-Gómez, Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas, Colombia

holds an MA in Applied Linguistics to TEFL from Universidad Distrital, Bogotá, Colombia. She is currently a professor of academic English at Universidad Nacional de Colombia. She is currently a member of the research group Lectoescrinautas. She has presented locally and internationally at conferences in language teaching education. Her latest publication is Promoting the Use of Local Literacies in EFL Pre-Service Teachers to Inspire their Teaching Practice" . In: Colombia Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal. Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas

Amparo Clavijo-Olarte, Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas, Colombia

holds a PhD in Education from The University of Arizona. She is currently a professor of Literacy and Qualitative Research Methods at Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas in Bogota, Colombia. She is the director of the research group Lectoescrinautas LCPB (2000-2020). Has done international research collaborations with scholars from USA and U.K. and with public school teachers from five districts in Bogotá. Her research interest is related to Community based pedagogies and literacies in Language Teacher Education. Her most recent publications Pedagogias de la Comunidad a través de indagaciones locales en el contexto urbano de Bogotá (2019) and Developing a Deeper Understanding of Community-Based Pedagogies With Teachers: Learning With and From Teachers in Colombia (2016)


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How to Cite
Nieto-Gómez, Y. A., & Clavijo-Olarte, A. (2020). Situating Local Literacies at the core of ELT Curriculum in Higher Education. GIST – Education and Learning Research Journal, 21, 26-46.
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