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Auteur: Patricia FRIEDRICH

Co-Auteur(s): Eduardo Henrique DINIZ DE FIGUEIREDO

New technologies, old myths: A study of language ideologies in the discourses of online English schools in Brazil and their implication for the sociolinguistics of globalization

Abstract/Résumé: Saussure once wrote, “Language is not complete in any speaker; it exists perfectly only within a collectivity” (1916). What happens then when a collectivity starts or continues to spread old rumors and myths about language and its users despite the latter’s purported new contexts and realms of use? The present study seeks to engage in a discourse analysis of the messages of institutions from the emerging sector of online language schools in a particularly fertile context: Brazil. Television commercials and internet websites of these schools are used for a mixed-method, discourse-driven analysis. Specific attention is given to how English, technology, learners, teachers, and globalization are conceptualized in these messages, and to the ideologies that are revealed by such conceptualizations. Preliminary results indicate: 1) a strong push towards native English-speaking teachers mainly from the United States and United Kingdom; 2) an understanding of technology use as a teaching method, rather than a medium. In this presentation we will discuss the full results we obtained including how the depictions of teachers and students in the messages examined tend to offer strong dichotomous images of gender, ethnicity, and “coolness.” We further debate how an understanding of these results contributes to the sociolinguistics of global studies, as they show that views of policentricity and integration in relation to language and globalization are still conflicted with practices from institutions that suggest English-ownership by specific groups and a top-down process of globalization. We emphasize the need for sociolinguists to continue addressing questions such as these, and for the development of a theory of marketing for language schools.