Out of School: stories of English learning in informal environments

2018 - present

The desire to learn English is recurrent in Brazilian students' learning histories (GOMES JUNIOR, 2016; PAIVA; GOMES JUNIOR, 2015, 2018; PAIVA, 2008, 2011). However, they often emphasize the failure of learning, associating it with elements of the Brazilian educational scenario, such as lack of infrastructure, low teacher proficiency, number of students in the class, among others. In these stories, learners often report having perceived more powerful learning moments in informal events, such as trips, games, and literature, for example. This research seeks to explore narratives of English learning in informal environments to investigate: (a) what these environments are; (b) which agents played an essential role in this process; (c) what were the (digital) technologies and mediating artifacts; (d) what learning strategies were used; (e) how learners conceptualize informal learning and its elements. It is worth emphasizing that the purpose of this study is not to reinforce the beliefs and prejudices towards the regular school in Brazil but to highlight characteristics of informal learning that could also exist in formal spaces. Research participants of different age groups and contexts will record oral language learning histories with the help of the WhatsApp application, given its extensive use in Brazil. It will facilitate data generation since the process of recording audio messages is already part of the routine of users of this technology. Learners will receive a short script and will be instructed to record their oral narratives, reflecting on important events, agents, and objects in their learning. Data analysis will consider the Ecological Perspective of Language Learning (VAN LIER, 2004), to understand the (inter) relation of the participants with(in) their environments; and the Cognitive Theory of Metaphor (LAKOFF; JOHNSON, 1980), to understand the learners' conceptualizations. At the end of the study, the set of learning stories as well as the results will be made available on a web page. One expectation is that the results can illuminate formal teaching and learning of English as a foreign language.


Bárbara Batista


WhatsApp Image 2020-09-11 at

Jhemima Emanuelle Fernandes