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Editorial NRInglês

★ Interview With Francisco Gomes de Matos

JS: Based on your vast experience in Applied Linguistics over many decades, what do you consider to be the most critical issues currently in ELT/TESOL.

FGM: I can think of two critical issues: first of all, the still little explored dimension of EFL/ESOL learners’ rights. An example: learners having the right to ask for/ request additional lexical competence/phraseological versatility. To illustrate, imagine an adult learner asking her teacher: “I’d like to learn how to disagree in English”. Wonder if this pragmatic dimension of English language use is being globally provided, in a pedagogically systematic way. To me, that’s still a gap in language learner ESL/EFL education. Another critical issue in which TESOLers’ efforts leave something to be desired is that of helping prepare (mostly) adult learners to be proficient users of academic English. Learning to write in English for professional purposes remains a formidable challenge for ESL/EFL-educating programs both at universities and outside the academic environment, too.

JS: Why hasn’t the linguistic creativity of learners of English been given the prominence it could deserve in Applied Linguistics and ELT/TESOL?

FGM: Possibly because of a gap in the preparation of ESL/EFL educators: helping learners make the most of their linguistic creativity. Wonder what percentage of global TESOLers have received minimal instruction on language learning from a psychological perspective, that is, on using language as a partly creative, meaningmaking experience. In my book Criatividade no Ensino de Inglês (São Paulo: Disal Editora, 2004) views of linguistic creativity are included, in statements kindly made by inspirers among whom David Crystal. Global research on learners’ self-perception of themselves as creative language users could help us give linguistic creativity the prominence it should deserve in both Applied Linguistics and ELT/TESOL.

JS: How do you integrate learners’ linguistic creativity in your approach to language learning?

FGM: By engaging learners in learners’ rights/ responsibilities awareness activities and by providing them with examples of learner-originated linguistic creativity. My ABA poster on Linguistic Creativity provides a checklist on ways of using English creativity. Maybe that reflection tool can serve as a starting point for research on a global basis. That ABA poster as well as other posters of mine produced by the ABA Design Department can be accessed at www.estudenaaba.com by clicking on Mídia, then on Posters, on English and by finding the particular poster you’re interested in.

JS: What are the distinctive features of an innovative and creative language teacher?

FGM: In my ABA poster Innovation in Language Teaching I point out 15 ways teachers can be innovative. Two examples thereof: engaging students in multidmodality activities and creating language learning materials that integrate print and digital forms of learning in novel ways.

JS: How can teachers foment concepts of human intercultural rights with beginning students in our Brazilian local scenarios and help them to learn to enjoy diversity and intercultural communication?

FGM: By engaging learners in learners’ intercultural rights/ responsibilities awareness from the very beginning levels of ESL/EFL instruction. Students should realize that language use is intercultural and diversity-enhancing. Encouraging them to see cultures as intercomplementary, interconnected will help build a positive attitude toward intercultural differences as well as to learn to value learners’ roles as intercultural communicators.

JS: Some teachers would say it is not their job to teach values like respect for diversity or social inclusion, but rather to teach the language only. How would you respond to that view?

FGM: It’s teachers’ right to describe their mission as being predominantly of a linguistic nature. While respecting such view, I’d also ask if their responsibility wouldn’t be further humanized/dignified by the teaching of values such as respect, dignity, and peace.

JS: You are a prominent and influential peace linguist. What are the origins of Peace Linguistics and how and when did your involvement start?

FGM: I could mention two precursory publications of mine which paved the way for a sustained commitment to developing a Peace Linguistics: first of all, in 1987, the Greek Journal of Applied Linguistics published a brief Note of mine entitled The Functions of Peace in Language Education. Therein I made a plea for PEACE as a new universal in language education. Then in 1993, the then Dublin-based Sociolinguistics Newsletter published my Plea Probing the Communicative Paradigm: A new concept for Sociolinguistics. In that text, I made a case for Communicative Peace as a deeper concept to be added to the then globally widespread notion of communicative competence. In August of that year I received a letter from U.S. sociolinguist Dell Hymes in which he stated that, so far as he knew, I was the first person to connect the communicative dimension directly with the notion of peace. He added that the sharp conjunction of the phrase communicative peace seems to go farther (than communicative competence) and even suggest, not only mediation, but meditation, the achievement of a peace within persons that is more than absence of conflict, but a state of being. Dell Hymes illuminating message encouraged me to proceed in the then embryonic journey toward a Peace Linguistics. Another precursory publication of mine helped sustain my involvement in what would be called Peace Linguistics: Pedagogia da Positividade. Comunicação construtiva em Português (Recife, Editora da UFPE, 1996).

JS: What is the aim of peace linguistics and how would you characterize this approach?

FGM: Two of the goals of Peace Linguistics are:

1- Describing languages and varieties thereof as systems used for communicatively dignifying and peaceful purposes.

2- Contributing to the humanizing tradition of Peace Studies by arguing for Peace Linguistics as complementary to Peace Education and to Peace Psychology. The approach implemented by peace linguists is humanizing-dignifying and focused on using languages for the good of Humankind.

JS: What are some of the most recent developments in Peace Linguistics?

FGM: Two of the recent developments in Peace Linguistics in my work are:

1- My advocacy for Teaching English peacefully (cf. ABA poster with such title)

2- My plea for TESOLERS as appliers of Nonkilling (cf. my 2010 ABA poster). In the former poster, I state my conviction that When English peacefully you help globalize, a deeper mission as EFL/ESL teachers you realize. In the latter poster, I invite TESOLers to always use English to CHANGE fight into light, foe into friend, fear into faith, harm into harmony, and kill into nonkill.

JS: How would you explain ‘Communication for Peace’ to the layman?

FGM: To a lay person, I would present the key concepts of Loving one’s linguistic neighbor and Communicating for the good of Humankind. If they were Brazilians or Portugueseusing persons I’d refer them to my book Comunicar para o Bem. Rumo à Paz Comunicativa. (São Paulo: Editora Ave Maria, 2002). In English, I would suggest that the lay person access my article Using peaceful language: from principles to practices. In UNESCO-OELSS online Encyclopedia, published in 2005.

JS: Which are your three words of wisdom towards Communication for Peace?

FGM: Dignity, Nonviolence, and Nonkilling. On my interpretation of Dignity, I humbly refer New Routes readers to my book Dignity. A Multidimensional View (Dignity Press, 2013). On Nonkilling, may I suggest that you download my book Nurturing Nonkilling: A Poetic Plantation. (Honolulu: Center for Global Nonkilling, 2009 www.nonkilling.org)

JS: How do you view the notion of teaching languages peacefully, as advocated by Linguapax and by Peace Linguistics?

FGM: As I pointed out in a previous answer, when the Linguapax Program was established in 1987 I published a brief plea advocating the use of PEACE as a new universal in language education. Thus, the aims of Linguapax and of Peace Linguistics are interconnected, intercomplementary. The former has become an inspiring Tradition, whereas Peace Linguistics is still in its infancy.

JS: What is Global Peace Literacy and how can it be implemented?

FGM: Global Peace Literacy is a more comprehensive type of Literacy. Its implementation calls for the integration of principles/practices of Global Education, Global Peace, Global Ethics, Global Diplomacy, Global Citizenship, among other fields.

JS: In a time of polarised political views, frequent religious intolerance and an ever-widening gulf between rich and poor, what contribution can Peace Linguistics bring to classrooms in which teachers wish to discuss controversial or taboo topics as part of a programme of true education for global citizenship, not just language instruction?

FGM: I could see a dual contribution: not only of Peace Linguistics but also of the precursory Pedagogy of Positiveness. Thus, learners could be asked to clarify what they consider to be controversial or taboo and why and how can controversies be discussed as a DIGNIdialogue rather than in an exchange of insults or aggressive vocabulary. An activity on how to criticize positively could also be planned for use in such classroom contexts.

JS: You are an enthusiastic advocate of checklists, rhymed reflections and alliterations. Could you please explain the value of this kind of presentation and also leave us with a short example?

FGM: Among the benefits of such visual communication resources, I’d point out: memorability (tools are memoryenhancing), poetic-sensitivity-promoting (rhyming and alliteration), conciseness (learning to express oneself in communicatively shorter ways).

COMMUNICATING ECOLINGUISTICALLY: A CHECKLIST

When ecolinguistically we communicate…
One another’s character do we help to elevate? HOW?
Our spirituality do we help to articulate? HOW?
For communicative dignity do we help to educate? HOW?
For global peaceful purposes do we cooperate? HOW?
Environmental responsibilities do we substantiate? HOW?
LIFE-enhancing changes do we creatively anticipate? HOW?
Awareness of the rights of all living beings do we demonstrate? HOW?
Our everyday interaction with Nature do we joyfully celebrate? HOW?

The interviewee
Francisco Gomes de Matos, born in Crato-Ceará, a longtime resident of Recife, has a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from PUC-SP, an M.A. in Linguistics (University of Michigan) and B.A. degrees in Languages and Law, UFPE, Recife. He taught at PUC-SP (1966-1979) and at UFPE (1980-2003 until his retirement as Professor Emeritus of Linguistics. He also taught at UFPb and at FAFIRE (now Faculdade Frassinetti do Recife). Was Director of the Centro de Linguística Aplicada Yázigi (São Paulo), a visiting scholar at the University of Texas-Austin, a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa, taught at the English Language Institute University of Michigan. Had a Fulbright Visiting Professorship of Portuguese at the University of Georgia. Because of diverse professional interests he has published
Criatividade no Ensino de Inglês (São Paulo: Disal Editora, 2004), Nurturing Nonkilling: A Poetic Plantation (Honolulu: Center for Global Nonkilling, 2009), Dignity: A Multidimensional View (Dignity Press, 2013). He is a contributor to the Handbook of Conflict Resolution (2014), to the pioneering English for Diplomatic Purposes (2016) and author of the e-book Rhymed Reflections: A Forest of Ideas/Ideals (Recife: ABA Book, 2017, ISBN 978-85-64351- 07-3). Available on Amazon.com). Co-founder of ABA Global Education, Recife. His current interests are Peace Linguistics and Pedagogy of Positiveness.
e-mail: [email protected]
Twitter: @fgomesdematos

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