Potentials of the Multiliteracies Pedagogy for Literacy & Language Learning
The digital age has reshaped our communication landscape by changing the way language is used and creating new communication forms and functions. As societies become more globally interconnected through digital technologies, a wider and more complex range of communication modes is needed to disseminate and exchange knowledge. Against this backdrop, individuals have simultaneously become consumers and creators of digitally mediated communication (Lotherington & Jenson, 2011). The communication practices of our learners today are intrinsically multimodal, as they naturally draw on multiple semiotic modes such as text, images, video, and sound to express their ideas, consume information, and create new content on social media, photo- and video-sharing websites, videogaming, podcasts, vlogs, blogs, and so on. The evolving and dynamic nature of communication in the 21st century calls for an expanded understanding of what it means to be literate. Whereas traditional notions of literacy were confined to the acquisition of language skills, new communication modes now necessitate learners developing literacies beyond the linguistic (e.g., digital literacy, information literacy, visual literacy, media literacy, data literacy). However, this does not mean sidestepping the teaching of language skills. It is critically important for learners to develop an integrated repertoire of multimodal literacies as well as competencies in reading, writing, listening and speaking in order to successfully navigate their academic, social and digital learning environments.
My various projects on multiliteracies explore the potentials of using a multiliteracies pedagogy to support literacy and second language learning. The following are some of the sub-strands and publications from my research on multiliteracies in K-12 and higher education contexts.
Lotherington, H., & Jenson, J. (2011). Teaching multimodal and digital literacy in L2 settings: New literacies, new basics, new pedagogies. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 31, 226-246.
Me Mapping With Language Learners
Since 2015, Ontario has required that all teacher candidates receive pre-service instruction and practical experience working with English learners. The Supporting English Learners (SEL) project at OISE (principal investigators: Dr. Jeff Bale, Dr. Antoinette Gagné & Dr. Julie Kerekes) examines how this new teacher-education policy in Ontario related to supporting English Learners is appropriated in practice. The SEL Project provides multiple perspectives on this topic, ranging from a case study of one teacher education program and the results of a pedagogical content-knowledge test of what candidates learn in that program about supporting English learners, to the perspectives of classroom teachers, curriculum leaders, and English learners themselves. The significance of this research results from the comprehensive perspectives it provides on a new teacher-education policy about supporting English learners.
One strand of the SEL research project involves the creation of multimodal linguistic portraits also known as Me Maps with diverse K-12 English learners across Ontario, Canada. Me Maps are videos focusing on language learners’ identities as well as their experiences and perspectives on the world around them. These videos were created in Me Mapping Workshops that combine a focus on English proficiency development and the production of multimodal, multimedia artifacts through the Flipgrid app. The topics explored in our workshops with English learners include their plurilingual and pluricultural repertoires, important milestones in their lives, their experiences at school, and their hopes and aspirations for their future. On our Me Mapping with Language Learners website, you will find a collection of Me Map videos representing a diverse group of multilingual English learners between the ages of 6-18, as well as Me Mapping guides for teachers, guides for teacher educators, and additional resources.
Me Mapping With Language Learners website: https://sites.google.com/view/memapping/home