When thinking back on all the professional development I have sat through in college, at work, and at literacy conferences, the topic of English language learners vaguely comes to mind. Each year there is a dreaded faculty meeting where a person from the language department goes over WIDA standards and tells the group about what students “can do” at each level of the program (https://wida.wisc.edu/teach/standards/eld/2020). This meeting is dreaded because it usually occurs on a beautiful, sunny, Monday afternoon in the springtime, after a long day of work. Educators from all disciplines are busy thinking what’s for dinner, how much traffic will I hit on the way home, will I make it in time to the daycare pick up… The presenters of this meeting often begin with an uninspiring statement about this “not taking long” and that there will be an easy to use handout in our mailboxes to display in case the mysterious someone comes looking for our standards.
After reading these two articles, it is apparent that the schools, language departments, universities, and individual educators need to put a greater emphasis on learning how to teach international ESL students and resident ESL students how to communicate effectively. After reading “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures” from 1996, the article even lets readers understand that it is merely, “a tentative starting point for that process” (89). The chapter “Teaching Composition in the Multilingual World”, pairs nicely with this article in terms of pointing educators in the direction of starting this process in their classrooms as well as continuing the discussion on meeting the needs of our students.
“A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures” makes readers aware of the ever-changing modes of literacy and our need as people (not just educators) to work on our communication. The contributor’s purpose in delivering this text to the audience is their belief that “all students benefit from learning in ways that allow them to participate fully, in public, community, and economic life” (60). The article discusses the need for education reform in terms of the way the classroom is designed, more diversity in the curriculum, and a need to increase student motivation. A common trend in writing theory emerges again in this text in terms of multiliteracy being multimodal, culturally inclusive, and flexible. The text asks readers: What are we teaching? – and – What do we need to learn to become better teachers? In order to change the present and the future, educators from various backgrounds need to have meaningful discussions about our understanding of how language is used at work, in private, and in public life in order to change the way we educate others about language usage.
“Teaching Composition in the Multilingual World” discusses the changes that need to be made in terms of aligning the dated teaching methods with the ever-changing language of the Union. The article reminds readers that all educators are language teachers, it is not just the job of the specialist. This article goes over the history of how our need for education revision began and how we have a variety of English dialects or vernaculars within our own country that need to be addressed. In addition to addressing the issues that will arise in education, the article also talks about how these same issues will arise in a regular person’s work life, personal life, and educational career after K-12 schooling. Once again, this article offers suggestions for changing the way we design our courses, but it also highlights the need to focus on the global expression issues of content, organization, and idea development, instead of the local issues of grammar, style, and mechanics.
These texts let readers know that change needs to happen and that the United States is behind in terms of the way we think about education, communication, and monolingualism. Where do we start?