A view of EFL learning in a post conflict context in Vista Hermosa (Meta): opportunities arising from post conflict processes

Texto completo


A view of EFL learning in a post-conflict context in Vista Hermosa (Meta): opportunities arising from post-conflict processes

Understanding English teaching and learning contexts in EFL Education

Javier Alexander Rojas Umaña

Code: 2128034


Universidad Santo Tomas

Primer Claustro Universitario de Colombia

Licenciatura en Lengua Extranjera Ingles


Understanding English teaching and learning contexts in EFL Education: A view of EFL learning in a post-conflict context in Vista Hermosa (Meta)

Research Field

The study of the English language and its contexts

Research Subproject

Understanding English teaching and learning contexts in EFL Education

National Tutor

Mg. Manuel Ricardo Medina Tellez

Santo Tomas University

Faculty of Education

Licenciatura en Lengua Extranjera Ingles



I dedicate this Research Project to God, my parents, and my girlfriend. They were with me through all this process. I would not be here without you.

To my national teacher and thesis director Manuel Ricardo Medina Tellez who gave me all the tools, spent the time and kept in contact with me during the development of this study.

To my community and participants for allowing me to do all the process. To all the teachers that during my life gave me everything necessary to be here.



This process was carried out over 3 years, during this time I was accompanied by my regional and national teachers in a percentage of the research. However, much of this project was carried out thanks to the advice I made with my degree project advisor, the teacher Manuel Ricardo Medina Tellez, since the end of 2017 he was the one who met with me on Wednesdays normally in the afternoon. With him, I had an arduous process where I learned a lot about the research, in addition to the problems that were presented, the returns and the new beginnings although it was difficult, the teacher Manuel was to be a support. These

consultations were carried out in a group and individually, I had the opportunity to share with university colleagues located in many places in our country. In these meetings we shared experiences and supported each other. In a way, I was able to know the realities in other parts of the country and understand that these research processes showed me a reality that we rarely have the opportunity to see or hear. The meetings, always online, presented us with new challenges and tasks that we had to carry out for the next meeting, during this process I often felt tired and about to give up. However, my parents were always by my side and urged me to keep trying. Today I feel that this process filled me with knowledge and for me it is a great pleasure to be able to feel that I was able to carry it out, despite what it entailed to do it, since it has been enriching. I thank God, my parents and Professor Manuel Medina for being with me during the process, having the availability and time for me.


Table of contents

Contextualization . . . 8

Research statement . . . 12

Objectives . . . 13

Theoretical framework . . . 14

Research Design . . . 20

Participants . . . 22

Data analysis . . . 26

Category 1: accessing the school everyday . . . 27

Subcategory 1.1: opportunities and absences . . . 28

Subcategory 1.2 from home to school . . . 31

Subcategory 1.3: coverage, quality, and access . . . 33

Category 2: English in our lives . . . 36

Subcategory 2.1: family follow-up . . . 37

Subcategory 2.2: what moves you to learn . . . 41

Subcategory 2.3: post-conflict and new possibilities . . . 46

Conclusions, Limitations and Implications. . . 51

References . . . 58

Consent Form . . . 64



This paper explores the peculiarities, daily life, and experiences of four participants residing in a very particular town due to its tragic past, important present and planned future. We will know very important data about EFL learning in this particular context through analysis, observation, accompaniment and relationship with the participants. We will understand the possibilities and impossibilities to which these participants are united due to multiple factors that surround them. Finally, we will understand more about the contexts in which students learn EFL in remote areas of Colombia.



Several years have passed since the moment in which Perfetti, Lakin and Gasperini carried out their studies (2003 and 2004) and the Colombian rural educational reality is still characterized by the aforementioned characteristics that place language teachers in a difficult situation of mediation between a linguistic policy and diverse sociocultural contexts,

economic, ethnic and political conditions (Cruz-Arcila, 2013). The social context is a very important factor that must always be taken into account, from the creation of the curriculum to the development of the class. The social context and the needs of the students are two very important factors. According to Bourdieu (1976), Nostrand (1967) and Seelye (1984), the factors give us an idea of the context in which the protagonists of the class interact, and it also says that these factors can give idea of society. The needs and class, the economic situation, and the cultural and historical heritages.


with the use of audiovisual tools. Taking into account the diversity of the Colombian territory, it is possible to find different cultures and climates in a couple of hours distances, as well as strata and accessibility; According to Perfetti (2003), in Colombia there is a great historical gap between rural and urban education systems. Lakin and Gasperini (2004) explained that this rural-urban gap in developing countries is due to several reasons, such as the lack of schools, overcrowded classrooms, unassigned schools, children who must work and teachers who are not well qualified and that do not have support, in addition to being poorly paid (see also, World Bank, 2007).

The teaching and learning of the English foreign language (EFL) is a subject inside the curriculum of all Colombian educational institutions. This subject has been standardized through programs such as Colombia Bilingüe initiated by the Colombian Ministry of Education. These programs have focused on establishing the most appropriate actions to improve the process of learning English/becoming bilingual. These standards cover the entire national territory and are followed by all educational institutions. The nationalized high school Centauros of Vista Hermosa (Meta), (Centauros School hereafter) is no stranger to this situation and in its formation process it offers the students the English area, following the standards given by the Ministry of Education. Vista Hermosa is a municipality of Colombia which has a historical richness marked by the conflict from its past to its present, since it was one of the delimitarized zone (delimitarized zone, a zone of the country without army or police, just guerrilla of FARC, this according to peace process in these years) in the


been stigmatized as affected by displacement and of being victims of the war. This can be easily observed, because a high percentage of the population in this town belongs to the databases as families in action, victims and displacement. This is the case of the majority of the students of the Centauros school, where the majority of the students belong to these databases through their parents or relatives, many of them receiving humanitarian aid.


Research statement

English, has been established around the world as a useful language. It is a tendency to associate this foreign language with successful people. This can be observed due to

advertisements that appear daily on television, newspapers and social networks. In addition, the Ministry of Education determined that teaching English as a foreign language in the country is mandatory within the curriculum, since they seek to prepare students so that they can have better working options in the future. In this way, the National English Program gives continuity to the strategies implemented by the Ministry of National Education, through the Project to Strengthen the Development of Competencies in Foreign Languages, and the recent enactment of the Law on Bilingualism (Law 1651 of 2013). The law promotes the teaching of English and brings us closer to improving quality. However, this law speaks of quality to teach, but not of other factors that can affect the quality to learn. In this way, this project was born, and it seeks to understand the social context of a specific group in a specific place, taking into account that education not only occurs in large cities, but also in rural areas or schools with little access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that are also mentioned within the law. So, this project was carried out in a small city, specifically with the students of the eleventh grade at the Centauros School in Vista Hermosa (Meta). With this project, I intended to understand the social causes that surround the learning processes of this group of students, taking into account the location of the educational institution and the origin of the students. Although the educational institution is located in the urban area of the


With this question, I intend to achieve the following objective:


Theoretical framework

The social context has often been underestimated within the teaching and learning of EFL. However, the Vygotskyan sociocultural theory claims that human cognition is formed through social activity (Lantolf & Johnson, 2007, Cheon 2008). In other words, people acquire a language according to the interaction that exists within a social environment with other speakers and their own context. Moreover, the social context encompasses all possible interactions of people and if we focus on the teaching and learning of a social EFL, it is a variable of the learning, but also an essential part of cognitive development itself (Mondada and Pekarek Doehler, 2004, p.501).

Social Context


However, when they are not scarce, there are other types of conditions that limit the development of EFL teaching and learning efficiently. Therefore, broadening the context of social interaction from a classroom setting to intercultural communication seems to be needed based on the sociocultural approach (Kinginger, 2004; Thorne, 2006). The social factors as established by these authors influence the achievement, and students in a classroom learn in a social situation affected by social influences from outside the classroom. Bearing this in mind, we can say that the social context is crucial in the development of attitudes towards the target language, its speakers, and the language-learning situation.

Learning opportunities are also determined by the social context, in my project's case the context is complex, since Vista Hermosa is located in an area that for many years has been affected by the War. In line with this, students are believed to be active participants in the construction of social networks. The social context and its relation with (learners or) social beings are highlighted in this perspective, because the context provides conditions in economical, educational and cultural ways. It is in this social context that the learner's language is occurring. Lantolf and Johnson (2007) assert that the argument is not that social activity influences cognition, but that social activity is the process through which human cognition is formed (p. 878). The relationships between what surrounds the teaching and learning of the EFL can be internal or external. This relationship between the individual learner and the social context of learning is considered as dynamic, reflexive and constantly changing. Such relationship was traditionally controlled by the fixed learner characteristics (Mitchell & Myles, 2004, pp. 27-28).


According to these authors, a context where we motivate or encourage the student to use L2, can be very productive, however, the place where this project is developed is very unlikely to talk about extracurricular activities where students have to use L2. In sociocultural

perspectives, the role of the interpersonal and interactive environment is definitely

emphasized in learning the second / foreign language (Cheon 2008). Hence, it is essential to create an interactive learning environment in which learners can associate with each other and construct their L2 performance collaboratively through peer assistance (Cheon 2008). If we look at the social context where this project is developed, it can be very interesting because we have a remote population, a low-income population, where according to the IEP about 90% of the students belong to the databases of vulnerable people already affected by war.

So far, it has been highlighted that social context leads to attitudes which appear in learners as motivation that connect with other personal characteristics all of which explains the use made by the learner out of the available learning opportunity or economic opportunity. In this case, Vista Hermosa doesn’t offer a future for graduates. Students that want to study a professional career have to get out of Vista Hermosa to the capital of department.

Academic and Social Opportunities


language is something that can bring very positive things, such as traveling to another country, obtaining a better job or a better university career.

The attitude of people can grow in a negative or positive way, this depends on the context in which it develops. For example, in a place that has suffered the violence of war for many years, which has complicated economic conditions, that most of the people who reside in Vista Hermosa are people in vulnerable condition due to displacement or victims of the armed conflict, people with low economic conditions, do not find motivation towards the teaching or learning of EFL since these conditions shape and make this place different from what the State often proposes regarding the teaching of the EFL.


As asserted by Spolsky, the more motivation the learner has, the more time he or she will spend learning an aspect of a second language (Spolsky, 1989, p.23). That is, a motivated person will spend more time immersed in the activity to be carried out, in this case, learn a foreign language. A clear consequence of spending more time on L2 learning is


access due to economic conditions at home or the abandonment of the State, they could play a fundamental role, an external factor that would influence the creation of new spaces where students could reinforce their attitudes.

Access to technologies

Regarding the use of ICT. I can’t ignore social networks, which today play a very important role in the lives of people and especially young people. Daily access to these networks is very normal, however, making these spaces educational as has been done in some other places can be more complicated in the context of this project, where students have little access due to the economic conditions their families have. ICT can be a way to expose the student to L2, since in many of these places EFL is used in some announcements or in


Research Design

The learning of English as a foreign language in Centauros School - Vista Hermosa (Meta) is framed within the subproject: Understanding English Teaching and Learning Contexts in EFL Education of the Santo Tomas University. This subproject seeks to describe how the process in EFL teaching and learning is in different contexts according to their specific characteristics. This project was developed in a very particular context because I worked with a group of students who study in an urban school who half live in rural areas. For these reasons, direct observations and accompaniment in their daily routines was be made, and all the information obtained was noted.


Appendix 1: conceptual map about case study characterizes (Javier Rojas – Cmaptools)

Centauros School is an educational institution with a high percentage of students who come from rural areas to study, day after day. On the other hand, this school is located in the Vista Hermosa municipality (Meta) which is located approximately at 262.2 kilometers from the capital of the country, Bogota; it takes 7 hours by main road to get there. And to the main city in the department, that is Villavicencio, Vista Hermosa is located 146 km away. This municipality has a past that has been marked by war. Today, it has one of the zones created for the restructuring and not repeating violence on the side of the guerrillas. This has meant that national and international organizations are in Vista Hermosa carrying out activities to help in the post-conflict process. This has also created a stigma that has marked the



The criteria to select the participants, first was the course. This course is the one with the most rural students in the school. Second, the rural students that were selected live in the same rural town, this was the main reason and third, the amount was due to the fact that the case study allows taking small samples of the population to study, in this case I decided that there should be 4 participants. A total of four students were chosen for this project: two male students from the urban area and two female students from the rural area.

Jose, for this study named Urban Student 1 (US1),lives in the Brisas Del Guejar neighborhood in the urban zone of Vista Hermosa. He is 16 years old. He lives with his mother, Esneda, who works as a chief nurse in the town’s hospital. His father works in a family farm, for this reason he is always away. His older brother is studying in China, because he got a full free university scholarship and has two years studying there.US1’s house has all the public services and he also has his own laptop and internet access at home. He transports to school every morning on his mother's motorcycle. US1 does not assist to the SENA technique with his other classmates (in this educational institution, from 10th grade students have to do a technician with SENA). Instead, every Saturday he goes to Villavicencio to study English at a bilingual institute called American School Way. The student’s mother pays for this English curse.


the time of her day in the church to which the whole family attends. His younger sister studies in the same school as him. His older sister is studying in China, with a full university

scholarship and has two years studying there (as the brother of US1). US2 has all public services at home. He has internet access at home and his own laptop. Every morning he goes to school with his father, he lives two blocks away from the school. US2 does not assist to the SENA technique with his other classmates. Instead, every Saturday goes to Villavicencio to study English at a bilingual institute called American School Way. The father pays for this English course.


have a laptop or internet access on the rural town. RS1 attends a SENA's multimedia design and integration technician course. This course takes place at the same school during the afternoons on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 2:50 pm to 4:50 pm.

Ruby, named Rural Student 2 (RS2), lives on the rural town Puerto Lucas Margen Derecha in the rural area of Vista Hermosa. She is 17 years old. She lives with her mother, father and younger brother. Her father works on farms planting crops. This job is per days, so a few days he is at home without being able to work. Her father studied until first grade. Her mother has a small store inside the house where she sells groceries. She also goes sometimes with her husband to work on the farms. She finished her secondary studies. Her younger brother studies in the same school, the two of them go together each day. The house of RS2 also has the same lacks about public services and access according to RS1, because they live in the same rural town. Each morning she must travel to school on her father's motorcycle. RS2 also attends the SENA's multimedia design and integration technician course.

Before initiating the data collection, I sent an informed consent to the legal guardians of each student. To collect data I used field notes. The field notes, non-participant observations, and recordings of unstructured interviews or conversational interviews with participants allowed me to gather the necessary information to describe the social context of each of the participants. Data were recollected during 12 days in which I was present in the day to day of the students. In addition, I recorded some of the conversations that were held with the students and their parents. I was in the English classes of the students and in their homes too.

Data Collection Instrument Purpose of using the instrument


Field Note Peshkin, 2001, taking note helps to the process of moving from the informal and intuitive knowledge that comes with experience and observation.

Remember and record the behaviors, activities, events, and other features of an observation. Field notes are intended to be read by the researcher as evidence to produce meaning and an understanding of the culture, social situation, or phenomenon being studied. Non-participant observation Seligner & Shohamy, 1990,

this type of nonstructured observation permits obtaining a great amount of data.

It allows to observe the attitudes during the class. It allows to observe the feelings of students and teachers. It allows observing the realities of the class. Lets get lots of data.

Unstructured interviews – conversational interviews

Punch (1998) described

unstructured interviews as

a way to understand the

complex behavior of people

without imposing any a

priori categorization, which

Natural speech with participants.

Amount of data because participants are not afraid of have an informal



might limit the field of


ideas, presumptions without problem during a


Data Analysis

I followed the grounded approach to analyze data. This approach consists in identifying the categories without having established them, that is, I searched the data for keywords, concepts, groups of ideas, and finally I established the categories based on this. To recognize these ideas, concepts, and keywords I made a data matrix in which I classify the data. According to this data matrix, I identified two categories always having in mind the question of the project problem. This data matrix was fed through the data collected with the field note, observation, videos and recordings of some conversations with the participants. At the time of choosing the categories in the matrix, I took into account an aspect that for me is the most important, each one of these categories has linked with the English foreign language (EFL). That is, they have a connection with the EFL. This factor was essential to select the categories.


experiences to the students who live in the urban area. These differences should not be

ignored because in the data matrix they crossed many times in the analysis, for this reason this category handles these sub-categories, which will be described and their reasons will be given more in depth later in this text. In addition, all subcategories have a linked with EFL. This is how the opportunities and absences, from home to school, and coverage, quality, and access, are connected between them and with EFL.

The second category is English in our lives. This category handles three sub-categories that are: family follow up, what moves you to learn, and post-conflict and new possibilities. These subcategories show us a somewhat more personal side of the participants, these subcategories were also chosen due to the data matrix in which these key ideas stood out more and more. These subcategories are also shown centered on where they reside, for example subcategory three: post-conflict and new possibilities. It is a subcategory that should not be ignored, since Vista Hermosa due to its geographical location and historical past, today has certain

possibilities that end up linking directly with EFL and which will be more in-depth

throughout this text. However, I must re-emphasize that all 2 categories and 6 sub-categories although some of their titles do not seem so, manage their linked with EFL and are also necessary to be able to answer the problem question of this research project.


1. Accessing the school everyday

This category will show us the particularities that students must go through day by day within the context of this project. In this category, we will also know the daily routines of the project participants. These data were collected thanks to the fact that I was with the participants observing situations daily in their rural populated centers, homes and in the school. During these spaces, I was able to share with the participants in their daily routines from their homes to the school. In addition, I accompanied the students on the days they had English class. I was also within the educational institution observing only their English classes. Thanks to all this, I observed the economic and mobility characteristics to carry out their routines, some peculiarities in their economic aspects, and access to technological resources in the populated rural center and their homes. During the observations and thanks to the data matrix, I could see that these were the characteristics that stood out the most and that is why “accessing the school everyday” emerged as the first category.

In order to better understand this category, it is necessary to divide it into three subcategories that will help us and also enrich this project. These three subcategories complement each other to form a whole in which we can understand the category. The names of these

subcategories are: opportunities and absences, from home to school, and coverage, quality, and reach. In this way, we will start with the first subcategory, opportunities and absences.

1.1 Opportunities and absences.


because of their jobs. While the two rural students do not live near the school, they live on a rural town, they don’t have all the public services (just have electric energy). Also, they do not have a good telephone signal reception. According to RS1 located in the rural town: “Si, usted se dio cuenta que yo marque, que estábamos hablando, aquí la señal por todos lados es mala. Solo en el puente, en el puente coge 3 rayas”.

(RS1 recording 1, 00:07:29)

RS1’s family live in the aunt’s house because their parents are currently building their own house. RS1 lives with her mother, her younger sister and her stepfather. The economic

income in the family depends on fishing that the stepfather makes, sometimes with the help of the mother. They fish in the river that is located in front of their house. In the other hand, RS2 lives with her mother, her father and younger brother. The economic income depends on a small shop that they have in the house and the father, who sometimes works in agricultural farms. Sometimes RS2’s mother works in these farms. These jobs are temporary and depend on the climate and time of the year. According to Srivastava, Singh and Thakur (1980, p.108-112), high socio-economic status has a positive correlation with performance, the higher the income is, the better the performance of the students will be. Eggen and Kauchak (2002, p33-34) and Ward (2002, p22-24) identified a direct relationship between socio-economic status and students’ performance in secondary schools. Onocha (1985, p373-394) concludes that children from highly-educated families with high socio-economic status are more likely to have a better performance than children from illiterate families.


influence on the student’s performance. It can be said that the English Language performance of students is ultimately enhanced as a corollary of the occupation of their parents” (Long et al. (1999); and Borodovsky & Gogarten 2010). That is, although participants and parents talk about the importance and relevance of learning English, in Vista Hermosa this is not seems as a way for producing money. Learning opportunities or vocational training in a foreign

language are outside the town and the other two project participants show this. This situation within the study will be tackled, since we will know cases in which we will observe how learning a foreign language can be useful within urban and rural contexts in Vista Hermosa.

In this way, talking with US1 during an informal conversation. He talks about the possibilities that the mother gave him to learn English since childhood:

“inclusive cuando yo estaba pequeñito mi mama me metió a un curso de inglés en la vencedores, con un man de Boston, aprendí mucho a pronunciar”.

(US1 Recording 1, 00:01:45)

This possibility was clearly realized because the family of US1 has an economic solvency in front of the other participants like RS1 and RS2. According to Steven (1999), he concludes that the financial status of parents might be important but not necessary for the performance of students in English Language. However, this economic solvency is being used directly to improve US1 English skills. Another example is the conversation with the US2's mother. During a conversation, she expressed the need to invest economically in learning English as a professional education for her son,


otros niños que los papas invierten y como se les ha enseñado a creer que puede ser posible que ellos sean profesionales así mismo es el nivel de exigencia que ellos se dan.”

(US2s mother Recording 1, 00:00:17)

These economic investments can be observed in an academic way, since US2 and US1 obtain the highest grades in the English class and in the other subjects as exemplary students.

However, economic income is not everything. Also, the transportation of students to the educational institution has particularities which we will observe in the following subcategory.

1.2 From home to school

RS1 and RS2 live in a rural town, for this reason every day they must go to the educational institution that is located in the urban area of the municipality. However, they must go from rural town to school by their own transportation. In this way, RS1 has no transportation and must walk. According to this RS1’s mother:

“pues es más difícil, se les dificulta un poco más. Por la forma de transporte. Claro. Pues para mí personalmente, pero entonces les enseña cosas a ellos, como que en la vida nada es gratis. Que uno se tiene que esforzar por conseguir, pues si uno como papa debe darles las cosas pero tampoco todo tan mascadito, sino cuando usted suelte sus hijos a vivir no van a ser capaces de salir a flote”


This situation was evidenced on April 2th in the field note. When RS1 leaves for the bridge to wait for a neighbor to pick her up and take her to school at 5:20 am. She often expressed that she had to walk, although she has rarely did it. This, because the people in this rural town know her and usually carry her. According to this situation RS1 express:

“me es difícil prácticamente solo por el transporte y para, por ejemplo para tareas… el transporte pues uno para estudiar primero que todo, el colegio se demora mucho para darle uno la ruta, se demora demasiado esta es la hora que no tenemos ruta todavía”

(RS1s mother Recording 1, 00:01:02)

As expressed by the student, there is a school route, but, the school route is not yet operational, during the observations parents express that the route normally begins to work in March. However, this year has not yet started. The lack of a school route means that daily journeys are different, because students must solve transportation to school by their own means.

On the other hand, RS2 already has transportation, a motorcycle. This is a solution that her parents made, and according to this RS2’s mother says:

“la ruta una bendición. Pues como tenía la motico, la motico la transportaba. Antes de eso, esperar que alguien la llevara. Que alguien le hiciera el favor de llevarla.”

(RS2s mother Recording 1, 00:02:30)

This was also recorded in the field note on April 1th. That day the student goes on the motorcycle to school. She travels with her younger brother every morning. And she usually arrives on time thanks to his motorcycle. Although there is an importance regarding


must go in the afternoon. Rural students as a minority in front of their other classmates regarding their location. They must go to town when they have group activities, for this reason they must also have transportation in the afternoon and not only to go to school in the mornings. In addition, they are also in the SENA technician, so they must go three times a week in the afternoon to the educational institution. On the other hand, in the case of RS1, although it solves the transport every morning, she must also do it in the afternoon to return home. In a section in the field note, I have registered a day in which I wanted to help when observing this reality. It happened on April 8th, 2019 the student RS1 was together with the sister at the exit of the town waiting for a friend to come and take them. That day, I thought about proposing to take them if they spent more time. 12:55 pm a friend of her passes by who takes them home.

On the other hand, we have students US1 and US2. These students live in the urban area, they do not need transportation since they live near the educational institution. In addition, as I had indicated before, urban students are the majority in this course, for this reason they generally meet for group activities in the urban area. So they end up forcing RS1 and RS2 many other times to make trips from their homes. Although transportation showed us many peculiarities in this context, it is not all within this category. Coverage, quality, and access is the next subcategory, in which new peculiarities will be observed that will show us why it is relevant in this project.

1.3 Coverage, quality, and reach


education has been carried out for decades. These resources that students use to learn are very common, for example, the internet is nowadays widely used for school activities and also for leisure. RS1 and RS2 live in a rural town and regarding the resources that RS1 has within reach said:

“Y dos en la cuestión de estudiar, pero por ejemplo tareas y eso porque, hacer tareas y eso, porque obviamente acá no hay recursos, acá no hay donde ir una biblioteca, no hay donde ir consultar internet, no hay internet para por ejemplo pagar hacer uno nada”… “no yo creo que sería diferente, porque obviamente si yo viviera en el pueblo me queda más fácil para ir a un internet o para ir alguna parte a hacer un trabajo”… “Faltan recursos obvio”… “tenía el computador y el computador se dañó. Prácticamente se dañó, no tengo. Pues claro,

demasiado necesario. Primero que todo por el SENA y obviamente por las otras materias”

(RS1 Recording 1, 00:01:23)

RS1 explains that in her rural town she does not have access to resources or materials that can help her in carrying out her activities, in addition, she explains that although she had a laptop, it is damaged. RS1 also specifies that these tools are used in all other subjects:

“los profesores por ejemplo de inglés de español. Los profesores de las materias quieren que use estas herramientas para que les entregue trabajos a ellos, si obviamente el computador me hace arta falta”

(RS1 Recording 1, 00:04:44)


exhibition was group and the use of ICT was mandatory to carry out the activity. However, talking about ICT is not only laptop, internet, or smart TV, something as basic as the use of a smartphone, was observed as something limited in RS1. She has signal reception problems, since the place where they live the signal is very low and calls tend to drop. So, the communication in this area is not very good although it is close to the town. In addition, they study a multimedia technician, and the RS1 and RS2 do not have a laptop to do the activities, they only have access to it in the educational institution or if a partner can borrow it. Access to ICT is limited in RS1 and RS2 homes. Although these students solve this access in the educational

institution or with some classmates. It cannot be denied that some assigned individual activities must be carried out at a minimum such as a laptop. Which, neither of them owns.

On the other hand, US1 and Us2 have access to ICT in their homes and make use of these technologies to learn English. Thanks to the course they are doing, they should use a platform where they watch videos, texts, images, among other things in English. Here you can see a use specifically for learning them in EFL. This could be observed during the sessions, when the students accessed the materials that the bilingual institute offered them to perform. Regarding this, US2 said:

“Fuera de eso en American School Way hay una plataforma y ahí uno refuerza mucho al hacer la plataforma y es extensa”


The way in which the student is using these tools to learn English is showed as necessary. Although they are not activities related to those granted by the educational institution, the use of ICTs is enriching their learning. Regarding this, there is a record in the field note in May 6th. In which it is written about US1. In this section, we talk about the use of the internet and the laptop which are mainly necessary to carry out the activities of the platform, although the student also has a book given by the bilingual institute, the largest percentage of activities are carried out via on .-line. It is important to remember that US1 and US2 are in the same bilingual institute and started this course together at the same time. Therefore, they perform the same activities, so during the observations I could see how they often talked about the activities to be done in the classroom and doing reviews before the trips every Saturday to Villavicencio. In this subcategory I was able to observe the two sides of a coin, regarding the management of ICT for the learning of English in students. On the one hand, students who have more limited access because they should look for spaces and peers who can lend them these tools. And in the other place, students who have no limitations and who also make direct and exclusive use to learn English. Also, I could notice how the school also makes use of ICT for learning English in a direct way, through jobs where they must use some technological tool and thus highlight the relevance of the use of ICT to learn EFL. After knowing the first three subcategories, we terminate the number one category, accessing the school everyday. However, this is not all, in the following category we will know the following subcategories, which are linked and extend the meaning and relevance to this project.

2. English in our lives


learn about aspects such as relationships within their homes and their classrooms during English classes. Also the peculiarities regarding the learning of English for the participants. All this thanks to the observation that was made in their homes and within the educational institution, an accompaniment in which I always focus on collecting even the smallest details. During these observations, I had the opportunity to share with them during their family routines and learn a little more in depth about all the things they expressed as a boost to the EFL. This category is a bit more personal about each participant and even includes things like the motivations of the participants regarding English. This category also addresses aspects such as the geographical location of the place where the participants reside and the project is taken. This is important if we take into account the relevance of the municipality of Vista Hermosa according to its past, present and future within the history of Colombia This location allowed to open new possibilities regarding the EFL which will be explained and addressed within this category. Taking into account that all this category and its characteristics have a linked with the English foreign language.

To understand this category, it is necessary to consider three things. The first is the family which is listed in the family and follow up subcategory. The second is related to the English classes and the motivations of the participants, this is within the second subcategory what moves you to learn. And, the third thing to consider is the opportunities to learn English that exist in this region, which is listed in the third subcategory post-conflict and new possibilities. After knowing the name of each one the three subcategories and everything they will cover, we will continue with the first subcategory, family and follow up.


The family dimension within this study shows certain peculiarities. For example, in the case of the RS1 participant's family, it is composed of the mother, stepfather and a younger sister. They reside within the populated center in a house that belongs to a relative. On the other hand, the RS2 student's family consists of the father, mother and a younger brother. They live in the same populated center and are neighbors with the RS1 family. These families show certain similarities, for example, they are low-income families, their children have problems with transportation every day to school, and both families have expressed interest in having their children learn English. In the same way, RS2’s mother during an informal conversation expressed to me the role she assumes in her daughter’s learning:

“Más que todo yo, me dedico al tiempo de ella. Si a qué hora sale del colegio a qué hora llega. Que actividades va hacer, con quien va estar. Yo he estado muy pendiente de ella en todo sentido, todo el tiempo que ella ha estado estudiando”

(RS2s mother Recording 1, 00:05:50)

During these conversations and observations, the RS2's mother expressed that she keeps an eye on her daughter's activities. In addition, she also came to express personal opinion regarding learning a foreign language. During a conversation with her, the following was recorded:

“el inglés ahorita en estas épocas es muy importante y más para ella que esta tan joven. Porque ella inicia ahorita que quiere estudiar algo pues les exigen mucho el inglés… el inglés es interesante muy importante.


Also, I recorded in the field note in an entry in April 7th the following: RS2’s mother talks about the importance of the daughter studying English. This day a recording is made during this conversation. In the conversation, the mother addresses topics about learning English, her role in learning her daughter. She says she is aware of her, and that it is important to help her even if they don't have the tools at home. In this way, RS1 parents also talked about the importance of speaking English. During the observation, they expressed that a second language could open new doors and even improve their quality of life. According to this, the RS1’s mother expressed:

“O sea, es bueno. El inglés, o sea que lo aprendan es algo importante es bueno y ahora se necesita es muy práctico saber idioma… a mi si me gustaría toca es ver si a ella le llama la atención”

(RS1s mother Recording 1, 00:07:45)

On the other hand, we have the parents of participant US1. The participant only lives with the mother, the father keeps working out of town. His older brother lives in China thanks to a scholarship. Regarding the learning of English and the role that the mother plays, she expressed the following during an informal conversation:

“Yo como trabajo todo el día. En semana no es mucho lo que le pueda colaborar pero cuando él no viaja a estudiar porque él viaja cada 8 días. Cuando no viaja entonces, yo lo veo las tutorías, lo veo cuando hace traducciones, lo escucho. Incluso hasta me pone a repetir a mi algunas cosas, que para ver ya escucharle también lo que el graba… el

acompañamiento mío es indispensable, y a él le gusta que lo acompañe uno en su clase de inglés”


The mother during the conversation refers to the English course that US1 does in

Villavicencio in the bilingual institute. She is willing to offer the necessary tools and even to offer US1 higher education focused on the use of the foreign language. In addition, US1 expressed the importance of his mother in the process of learning English. In addition, he has also affirmed that her mother's help was vital, that she was always on the lookout and often talked about it. On the other hand we have the family of US2. This family is composed of the father, the mother, an older sister who is also in China with a university scholarship and a younger sister. The father of US2 is a teacher of mathematics at school. The mother of US2 during the observations talked many times about the importance of learning English, and that thanks to that a daughter of her is in China. Regarding the role she assumes for US2 to learn English, she said:

“El acompañamiento que le hacemos a mi hijo es que él nos está enseñando a nosotros. Entonces, él nos saluda en ingles el me pregunta cosas en inglés, y me obliga a que yo tenga que contestarle. Entonces creo que ese es el acompañamiento más grande de que el este transmitiéndonos a nosotros lo que él está aprendiendo, obvio no estamos como el por las responsabilidades, por el tiempo, cierto. Porque él está bastante dispuesto a aprender, entonces el acompañamiento que hacemos es tratar de entenderle lo que él nos dice acá en ingles… en la habitación tenemos todo con cosas en inglés y en mandarín. Usted entra la habitación de él y va encontrar cosas en mandarín y en inglés. Escuchamos, la música en inglés. No porque nos agrade mucho sino porque Daniel ha traído como esas actividades a la casa, escuchar música en inglés. También está hablando portugués, entonces esta en unos días en portugués otros días en español”


In the case of the US2 family, during the observations I noticed a lot of interest from the parents regarding the process of learning a foreign language. However, in both families, US1 and US2 parents are very active with their children regarding the particularity of learning English. During the observation, they explained the importance of their children learning English specifically. Also, they assured that they made an economic investment paying a course in an English institute because they consider it necessary. Now that we have addressed the family dimension in this project and its particularities, we can understand how this factor is associated with the learning of the participants and also shows us two traits that are marked with certain similarity regarding the participants and their families. However, this is not everything and now we will continue with the second subcategory English classes and motivations in which we will know aspects that also mark particularities in this research project.

2.2 What moves you to learn


“Yo le dije al profesor que era preferible uno hacer un curso de inglés, que uno hacer un curso de salud ocupacional… un curso de inglés es más valioso ahorita, por ejemplo a nosotros las versiones cuando yo recién ingrese al SENA, las versiones que a nosotros nos pasaron de los programas estaban en inglés. Todo estaba en inglés, toda la versión el año cuando iniciamos. A nosotros entrabamos y todo le salía a usted en inglés, edición en inglés, borrar en inglés, herramientas en inglés, todo, todo; absolutamente todo en inglés. Hasta para usted crear el archivo le aparecía name para que usted pusiera su nombre le salían los pixeles en inglés, le salía todo, todo, todo en inglés”

(RS2 Recording 1, 00:13:54)

According to this, RS2 emphasizes their wishes to study something complementary to English or also to be able to interact with the language. Regarding this topic, RS2 gave me their opinion during a conversation:

“Yo vi el curso de inglés ahí, ahí decía ingles no sé qué, en lenguas extranjeras algo así decía. Yo le dije, profe porque no hacemos el curso de inglés. Que no, que lo que pasaba era que los muchachos que esto, entonces fue cuando le pregunte que porque razón, entonces fue cuando él me explico. Yo le dije pues la verdad me parece algo como ilógico sin argumentos que hayan quitado algo tan esencial que es el inglés hoy en día, simplemente porque los estudiantes dicen que no les alcanza el tiempo”.

(RS2 Recording 1, 00:13:22)


motivation to learn even if they do not have enough intrinsic motivation. That is, students often talk about the importance of learning English, however, they do not give it the necessary relevance to learn. It can be said that teachers must be aware of the importance of students' motivation to learn English and through some changes they can increase their motivation regarding language. In this case, the spaces that the student asks for according to their needs, according to Huitt shows us that there is a motivation on the part of US2.

On the other hand, US1 and US2 have something in common besides the English course that they attend together every Saturday in Villavicencio. These two students do not do SENA, instead they study English in a bilingual institute. However, in 2017, they were in China. This through the chancellery of China in Colombia, which took the students of Vista Hermosa who at the time were practicing ping-pong. (This program arose because the Chinese Foreign Ministry wanted to take children who practice this sport to an immersion in which in addition to knowing their culture, they could know their universities in which they offer university careers related to the sport. The children they took should only be from post-conflict areas, in this case, Vista Hermosa). In addition, due to this program US1 and US2 have their siblings on scholarships studying in China thanks to the chancellery. The siblings of each student have been studying in China for more than a year, the only requirement they were asked in addition to being a bachelor, was to have done an English course. According to this, US1 says:

“Antes de todo lo de china, me gustaba arto el inglés… por las canciones, me interesaba pero no era como de estar viendo cosas… inclusive cuando yo estaba pequeñito mi mama me metió a un curso de inglés en la vencedores, con un man de Boston, aprendí mucho a


aprender” por ejemplo cuando fuimos a china con Juan Manuel el secretario de la

cancillería de exteriores en ese tiempo fue con nosotros, me gusto mucha esa parte de estar con los jóvenes de viajar… Mis compañeros mientras son técnicos en multimedia yo paso el curso de American School Way”

(US1 Recording 1, 00:01:14)

US1 shows a very strong interest in learning English. He talks about his experience in China and the impact that I generate in him, the accompaniment of the representative of the

chancellery. In a field note entry, I was able to record how US1 spends time on the activities of your English course. US1 May, 6th. Do exercises on the virtual platform of the English course, daily spend at least 30 minutes on this platform to review. Also check the book that has as material, Top Notch. According to this, Al-Otaibi (2004) declared that motivated learners spend much of their time to gain aims in learning foreign language and motivated learners can also learn language more effectively than unmotivated ones. According to Al-Hazemi (2000), learners with strong desire to learn a language can obtain high level of competence in the target language. Also, US1 expresses feeling motivated during a conversation with me:

“Primero que todo porque, al principio pensaba eso de ir a china, entonces me motiva arto el inglés, también porque mi mama dijo que eso era bueno además ahora uno ve que todo el mundo globalizado tiene eso, no. La necesidad de usar ingles en todo, entonces me motiva eso… es una posibilidad, no. De ir a china”


On the other hand, US2 also thinks about the great possibility of going to China, he assures that the English course is one more step to go to study together with his sister in that country. About this US2 says:

“Yo iba a hacer SENA normal. Pero como mi hermana dejo eso entonces mi familia pensó mejor en eso. Me metí en el curso de inglés y también porque tengo proyecto el próximo año de salir a alguna universidad en el extranjero… yo quiero ir a china. Pero si no se puede a china, yo sé que si se ingles va a ser más fácil o Brasil también. Pero la idea principal es China”

(US2 Recording 1, 00:01:50)


feel responsibility for participating, and experience more success than failure. In addition, they take the English course and I could observe the activities they performed on the institute's platform and the material they used at home to complement the learning. They always showed commitment correctly perform their tasks and activities. During the

observations I noticed how US2 excels in the area of English, is shown as the student with the highest grades. However, during these observations within the educational institution in English classes, I found something that was a constant in the field note notes, the cuts in the hourly intensity of the classes for different activities. For example, one day there was an activity in memory of the victims of the armed conflict, on another occasion there was a meeting with a teacher just in the hours of English. On two occasions there were meetings with the degree director due to schedule changes and delivery of newsletters. In addition, the school started a soccer championship, for which, a daily cut of time was made to each class, to be able to do it before going home. Participants must have 3 hours of English a week, these classes are divided into a class of two hours a day, and a class of one hour another day. However, because of these cuts due to multiple activities, the hourly intensity was not fully achieved.

Although we met many particularities in this subcategory English classes and motivations, this is not yet everything. That is why we must continue with the following subcategory where we can learn more about the context where the research was carried out and we will know more peculiarities of the participants. Therefore, the following subcategory is war and the possibility of foreign contact.


This subcategory in this town (Vista Hermosa) is a very important topic. The conflictive past of this town has brought new situations of post-conflict. It is important to highlight that the crude era of the war is already happening, for example the opinion of US1’s mother during an informal conversation:

“La verdad, eh yo nunca le he comentado de eso, él no sabe nada de la guerra que pasaba acá. Yo lo sé porque yo viví en San Juan. Llevo 14 años y yo sí me la goteree en San Juan. Yo sí sé de la guerra por San Juan porque estábamos cerca de acá, pero él no sabe nada”. (US1s mother Recording 1, 00:07:00)

According to this, the younger people may not know much about that moment in the history of the town. However, the current presence of international organizations such as the United Nations is evidence of such past. Inclusive, Vista Hermosa is stigmatized even today as a dangerous, violent and red zone. The war that took place in this town was very crude,

although the young people did not live this situation, but their parents show their concern. For example, RS2's mother expresses that concern in a conversation, when she said:

“ya la situación cuando ella empezó el colegio ya había normalizado algo más. Pues a pesar de que ahorita uno siente preocupación, porque cuando ya llegan las 6 de la tarde y ella aún no ha llegado. Por ejemplo a las 7 salen del SENA, ella en la motico se bandea porque ella se viene y de pronto con alguna compañera o algún niño de los que estudian allá se vienen y la acompañan (…) ahorita pues ha mejorado algo las cosas”.

(RS2s mother Recording 1, 00:04:18)


organizations and 1 national army, carrying out a humanitarian demining in the surrounding and rural areas to the urban area. However, this can be described as an everyday event and it is normal for people to continue with their lives. This is something that has been part of their lives for many years. Although the new generations did not live through the violent stage of the war, the fact of being in Vista Hermosa makes them interact with this new stage of the war in Colombia through access to programs that arrive to help create new peace

environments. These programs are run by international organizations and supported by local government, although it is also normal that within these programs pedagogies are included regarding the recognition of dangerous situations such as finding explosive mines,

unexploded ordnance, (pedagogy that during my school time I also received) among other things. In addition, opportunities to study as has been the program of the Chinese Foreign Minister in Colombia. New programs that have been aimed at young athletes only in ping-pong, this program has brought many young people to China in order to get to know this country and be interested in participating in a university scholarship, including two participants of this project and They were benefited and were in China during 2017. Regarding the violent past of Vista Hermosa and its current present, not everything is negative. The opinion of US2's mother is the best example to understand a little more about this:

“Sí hemos sido afectados para bien porque yo vengo de Bogotá. Nosotros somos bogotanos y en Bogotá nosotros pagábamos colegio, hace 8 años, 360 mil pesos y jamás tuvimos

oportunidades como las que tiene este pueblo por tener un pasado de guerra. Creo yo, por este municipio tener un pasado de guerra se han abierto muchas oportunidades y entre esas oportunidades está que mi hija esté en China”.


According to this mother, being in this town greatly opened the doors to one of her children, and now she wants the same thing to happen with her son. The opportunity to have two children with a scholarship in China is something that she only assumes by living in Vista Hermosa, even without having lived the time of war. The war in Colombia today is seen as a post-conflict era due to the peace process. These types of opportunities are not new and show us that they end up motivating people, for example, these two families each has a studying in another country. Now they are preparing their next child for the same objective; this ends motivating parents and children to study English to achieve this goal. The stance of learning English Language has been increasing tremendously well from the past few years

(Borodovsky & Gogarten 2010). According to the statistics, every year there is an increment of around 40 percent in the people who access the industry of learning the English Language (Edward, 2000).

Finally, another aspect that arrives to this town because of the post-conflict process is the interaction with the foreign language. Persons that come with these organizations like UN are foreigners. Day by day, they are talking with people for buying a product or just for greeting them. This has ended in situations where foreigner people (that don’t speak Spanish very well) try to talk with people throughout signals and other strategies. For this reason, listening to a person of Vista Hermosa trying to speak in English with these people is a normal


activity (Lantolf & Johnson, 2007; Cheon 2008). In other words, students acquire a language by using it in social interaction with speakers of that language. This is hard because in many places there aren’t many places where people can practice using English out of the classroom. Attitudes of various kinds appear in learners as motivation that joins with personal

characteristics which all together justify the use a learner makes of accessible learning opportunities. The interaction between learner and learning opportunities determines the outcomes for the learner, (Spolsky, 1989, p. 28). Formal and informal learning opportunities are influenced by the social context. In fact, the availability of formal and informal

opportunities depends on the social context. Language is principally a social mechanism. In this way, language is learned in social context. This is an individual process, but certainly occurs during the interaction with society. For this reason, learning is significantly affected by the social factors indirectly. Also, social context provides educational opportunities (formal situations) whose availability depends on the social context as educative institutions as (schools, universities, institutes). The formal instruction in school allows establishing goals, objectives, and priorities for a formal learning. Informal situations also are provides by the social context. Informal situations are available in different kinds and amount according to social conditions which determine the potential opportunities for a learner to interact with speakers and writers of the target language. (Reza Gholami, 2012).



The purpose of this project was to characterize the social factors that are related to the English learning processes of four participants who are students of a school (Los Centauros) that is located in a very particular municipality (Vista Hermosa). After observing, living, sharing, listening and analyzing the participants’ everyday life, I can conclude that:

- Established realities, such as economy have a close relationship with the opportunities to promote new opportunities to learn English. It can be determined when we see that these families living in the urban area (not only for living in this place), but for having better economic income and access to things they can and want to offer them to their children, as English courses in bilingual institutes outside the municipality, more resources and educational tools that support the learning process. This factor is also directly related to the particularities of the participants in the rural area, who face realities based on their economic income and the opportunities within the place where they reside (access to public services, access to resources, among other things) being limited and practically inexistent in those places. This is how the families of rural participants cannot give their children access to resources and technologies. Although I cannot assure if a laptop or access to internet can improve a student's learning, I could see that those participants who had them (US1 and US2) use them to study English (the virtual platforms of the English Institute at that belong) and for


presented differences that can be shown as negative, for example, the disadvantages of effective transport, accessibility to ICTs, lack of resources in the rural center and absence of educational opportunities outside the municipality (higher education or courses in other cities). In this way, we can say that these differences are increased by the social commitment and cultures that these families have when residing within this context.


reality in urban participants. These participants although they live near the school and for this reason do not need transportation, they have. This relationship should not be classified as unfair, it is simply the result of two families who have enough income to buy their own means of transportation and put them at the service of their children, even if it is not totally necessary. Here, we can observe how the absence of transport in the rural area is related to the economic factor, the lack of opportunities and the location of the participants, thus generating very marked particularities. This factor affects the English learning process especially to rural students because they have to transport to the town for things as researching or meeting with classmates. This reality, was described as an advantage for RS1 because their classmates avoid meeting in the rural town for activities, since the majority live in the town, so, RS1 had to improve this difficult each day driven by school, family, and classmates.

- The possibilities and limitations within this project were shown as a constant. For example, the roles of parents showed us that they talk about generating well-being for their children and even going beyond the process of learning English. This is how the parents of urban participants spend money on their children's learning English, while the parents of rural participants cannot spend money, but they are encouraged to learn as much as possible within what is offered by the school. These rural parents do not even see it as a disadvantage, but talk about the fact of overcoming themselves when facing difficulties. They talk about difficulties as an opportunity for learning


which we see parents who are more directly involved in learning a language have a background since they seek what they consider best for their children. For example, through the actual situation with their siblings, have even managed to motivate them regarding the learning of a foreign language as a personal, professional and life project. This is how the socially spoken and created conception of learning English as a means to improve the lifestyle during this project has great relevance in the family and in the participants. In a way, we can say that these motivations regarding learning English have been established by parents in their children, and even in the two urban families we could see very active parents in their children’s’ learning process. Now, the economic factor is evidenced when we have two families spending money on their children's learning, trying in this way to improve their chances regarding a better life project. The role of families in this project cannot be shown as which one spends more time or more money, since there are circumstances full of particularities according to their possibilities for basic well-being, which is seen as the objective in every family, from when rural families expressed their willingness to help their children, until when urban families said it is possible to offer a better future according to a program offered by another country.

- Finally, it is important to conclude that this project was carried out in a place that has been stigmatized as violent, a place where the war was very violent leaving many sequels and that today our participants may not know about. However, the parents and even me, we still remember all this. Now, how could this context involving the


continues, I believe that we will be at the door of reliving a past of war and violence in Vista Hermosa, Meta.


This research required a lot of time in which it was shared in different spaces, situations, and routines with the participants. These spaces in which I was with them were sometimes very familiar or personal and it could be difficult for the participants and for me to be in this kind of situation. Within this same aspect, I felt like sometimes the participants looked somewhat invaded in their space. For example, the two female participants shared with their boyfriends and this was uncommon to be with them while they talked or met. Another space where I felt how privacy invaded was when I accompanied them until late at night, in these periods, the observation was somewhat monotonous. Because normally the participants did not do anything beyond watching TV or being at home. The permanent observation for me was very tiring and I often felt that it was something little useful within those spaces.


course). This aspect, ended up being something very frequent and that I ended up shortening the amount of data collection, there were even classes of less than 30 minutes.




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