Researchers
Alan N. Baxter (supervisor)
Roberval Teixeira e Silva (co-supervisor)
Ricardo Moutinho Rodrigues da Silva (doctoral candidate)
Project
In daily social interaction, we are often negotiating and constructing our identities. Through the information that we give and receive, we can adopt an appropriated behavior in front of the interactants and also create expectations according to the attitudes the interactants display. As Goffman indicates, “information about the individual helps to define the situation, enabling others to know in advance what he will expect of them and what they may expect of him” (Goffman, 1959: 13).
That is, through interaction, we elaborate a particular image for ourselves: a face.

The term face may be defined as the positive social value a person effectively claims for himself by the line others assume he has taken during a particular contact. Face is an image of self delineated in terms of approved social attributes (…)  (Goffman, 1967: 5).

Face is one of the elements of our identities. We should understand identity as a group of cultural, linguistic, professional, ethnic and national elements. Identity is a dynamic process of negotiation that always occurs grounded on a culture and also on a specific interaction (Grigoleto, 2006; Coracini, 2003; Schiffrin, 1996; Tannen, 1994).
One of the basic elements in the elaboration of our identity is the different ways in which we use language. The linguistic cues, for example, that we give to our listeners consciously or unconsciously permit them to construct an image of ourselves and, through them, it is possible to identify beliefs, values and social rules as part of any communication context. For example, in a work context, there are relations marked by superficial formalities that show what kind of roles people are negotiating. In the same way, in a pedagogical context, students and teachers are also negotiating roles and identities in classroom interaction (Seedhouse, 2004; Goffman, 1974).
The focus of our research is the classroom context. In Applied Linguistics, contemporary theoretical approaches indicate that language students have to assume an active role in the teaching/learning process (Horwitz, 1999). Therefore, new identities can be required. For this reason, understanding learner’s beliefs about second language acquisition is essential for a good relationship among teachers and students inside the classroom (Silva, 2007), once beliefs are one of the bases of student’s identities.

However, to date there has been no study that focuses this perspective on primary Chinese student’s identities on Portuguese acquisition in a multicultural context like Macau.

One of the main difficulties for teachers who use the communicative approach is to try to motivate Chinese learners to speak and participate in language classes (Scollon, 1999). This apparent refuse of speaking is rooted on a Confucian tradition in which the instructors are expected to represent a role model. In this pattern, students consider the teacher as a sage who has all the answers and also the main responsibility for the teaching/learning process.

As it is largely known, the interaction between teacher and students is fundamental in current approaches on language teaching. For this reason and, considering the fact that there are many Western misperceptions of the Confucian learning culture (Biggs, 1999), it is very important to understand how certain beliefs about language learning are constructed in the Chinese students’ learning culture. This understanding can help teachers achieve a better interactional architecture inside the classroom.

The study consists of analyzing, through the instructor and students’ discourse, what kind of identities are in construction in the Chinese primary classroom. The participants are 24 students (23 Chinese and 1 Filipino), around 6 years old and 1 Chinese Teacher in a PFL classroom. The data is collected through semi-structured and structured interviews and class videorecordings. According to the socio-interactional approach, we adopt a qualitative analysis: the ethnographic method (Erickson, 1996).

Publications
Teixeira e Silva, Roberval & Ricardo Moutinho Rodrigues da Silva. 2009. O que é ser bom aluno? Reflexões sobre a construção da identidade de aprendentes chineses em sala de aula de Português Língua Estrangeira. Anais do VI Congresso Internacional da ABRALIN 1.