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Empowering Vulnerable Communities in Brazil through Language Mediation: A Freirean Approach

Communicating effectively, understanding and being understood, prioritizing essential information, as well as differentiating between reliable and fake news, require cognitive and social skills learnt through socialization and education. While these skills are not equal across social sectors (Freire 1992:71), they are essential. We all depend on them to access, analyse and categorize information to make informed decisions which are particularly important, when living through the COVID-19 pandemic in an impoverished community.

Grounded in Paolo Freire’s philosophy of education and framed by theories from sociolinguistics, access to language and information and family literacy practices (Rogers 2003), we study participants access to information, negotiation of trust, communication and decision-making in relation to COVID-19. Based on the knowledge gained from participatory action research (on site and remotely), we designed a communicative strategy, critical thinking workshops and an educational (serious) game to raise awareness on infodemic.

Based on data from participatory observations, interviews, workshops and game sessions, this presentation offers a context to reflect about the relationship between researchers, community leaders and participants in participatory action research as we focuss on the linguistic resources deployed by the team in Portuguese, English and Spanish to work with 3 vulnerable groups (homeless, Favelas [shanty town] dwellers and garbage pickers) in deprived metropolitan areas in Goiânia, capital of the state of Goiás, Brazil.

*This interdisciplinary project is funded by United Kingdom Research and Innovation AHRC/GCRF.

Professor Claudia V. Angelelli is Chair in Multilingualism and Communication at Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh campus), UK, Emeritus Professor of Spanish Linguistics at San Diego State University, US and Visiting Professor at Beijing University of Foreign Studies. Her research sits at the intersection of sociolinguistics, applied linguistics and translation and interpreting studies. She holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University, a Master of Arts (and two PG Certificates) from MIIS (Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey) and a Bachelor of Arts from Universidad Católica Argentina.

She has led research projects on intercultural communication and healthcare in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, the European Union, Malaysia and the United States. She designed the first empirically-driven language proficiency and interpreter readiness tests for The California Endowment and Hablamos Juntos (We Speak Together, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation). Prof. Angelelli is Past President of the American Translation and Interpreting Studies Association and has served as Director of the American Translators Association for 6 years. She has been world project leader for ISO 13611: Standards on Community Interpreting and she co-authored The California Standards for Health Care Interpreters. Ethical Principles, Protocols, and Guidance on Interpreter Roles and Interventions.

She is the sole author of Medical Interpreting and Cross-cultural Communication (2004), Revisiting the Role of the Interpreter (2004) and Medical Interpreting Explained (2019).

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