Laura Rita Pitariu
Rethinking Modern High School
EFL Curriculum Discourse
This thesis provides an examination of Romanian high-school English subject curricula (ESC) using the instruments and methodologies of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). It starts from the observation that CDA’s focus does not rest on researching language as a static semantic substance, but rather on examining the social and discursive mechanisms and processes that shape language as well as their results. One of its main tenets is that language should not be seen as a reified item of study, but considered as a bounded and limited entity, which is, in fact, nothing but an ideological/social construct. This means that the examination should hone in upon how languages, as constantly changing systems of semiotic resources, amongst various other semiotic systems of resources (such as multimodalities, for example), are selected and used for building racial, cultural, gender and other social categories that legitimate and maintain inequalities within policies or institutions.
The general assumptions that CDA makes about language are that language is to be seen as social practice and that both discourse and language shape and are molded/established by social structures (such as gender, ethnic identities, etc.) on the one hand and that language is essentially ideological, playing a key, yet frequently imperceptible role in naturalizing, normalizing, and thus hiding, generating and replicating social disparities. CDA has also proved instrumental in carefully assessing the working of power through language and discourse by providing a set of analytical tools emerging from and working in conjunction with theories of linguistics, semiosis (meaning-making processes) and systemic functional linguistics.
This thesis draws on this theoretical background and approaches the high school English subject curricula (ESC) using the instruments and methodologies of CDA in the field of applied linguistics. The outcomes emerging from the mixed qualitative and quantitative examination focus on framing, foregrounding as well as on the modes in which the curriculum discourse/text positions its authority as a source of national guidance with reference to English as a Foreign Language (EFL) curriculum and with particular issues related of it such as: Englishness, identity, nationhood, nation, ideology and diversity.
Laura Rita Pitariu