Doing critical language pedagogy in neoliberal spaces: A materialist narrative analysis of teaching young learners of English in a Korean hagwon

West, Gordon Blaine
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Critical language pedagogy has been practiced in many contexts, but there have been few reports of critical pedagogy being practiced in neoliberal spaces of private language education. In this paper, I document critical English language teaching initiatives using the specific case of a South Korean English private language school (hagwon) to demonstrate the possibilities of such an approach in a private institution. Using a critical practitioner research perspective (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009), I collected data from my classes at a hagwon over a 15-month period in the form of artifacts (ballots, student surveys, etc.), images, and student writings. I use emplotment (Polkinghorne, 1995) as a means of creating a narrative from non-narrative data and a materialist analysis (Alaimo & Hekman, 2008) to examine the data. Student resistance, negotiating syllabi, and learner-created materials, and critical episodes in three classes, illustrate the possibilities, need for, and limitations of critical pedagogy in neoliberal spaces.
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