Multilingual talk, classroom textbooks and language values: a linguistic ethnographic study in Timor-Leste

da Costa Cabral, Ildegrada (2015). Multilingual talk, classroom textbooks and language values: a linguistic ethnographic study in Timor-Leste. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

PDF - Redacted Version

Download (7MB)


This thesis presents a multi-layered study of multilingual classroom discourse, with two teachers, in a primary school in Timor-Leste. The wider context for the study was a major shift in language-in-education policy – to the use of Portuguese and Tetum as media of instruction – on the independence of Timor-Leste in 2002. This is the first study in this context to use linguistic ethnography to investigate the ways in which teachers are navigating the policy shift and to analyse the links between multilingual classroom interaction and wider policy processes and language ideologies. Fieldwork for the study was conducted in 2012. It included classroom observation, note-taking, audio/video-recording of classroom interaction, interviews with teachers and with policymakers. The data analysis presented here centres on talk around Portuguese textbooks, in Tetum and Portuguese. The findings were as follows: (1.) teacher-pupil relationships were discursively co-constructed as strict and asymmetrical; (2.) code-switching practices evoked beliefs associated with hegemonic ideologies about bilingual education; and (3.) teachers mediated textbooks language and content by building bridges between textual knowledge and local knowledge. The study foregrounds teacher agency in language policy processes, but also makes connections with powerful political and academic discourses about language tied to nationhood and culture.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LT Textbooks
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year