Mutilingualism & Multiliteracies in Writing

This week we took a closer look into both writing instruction for multilingual students, as well as the significance of multiliteracies in 21st century teaching and learning.  Our agenda slides:

Writing instruction for multilingual students

Thanks Jessie for taking up a thorough consideration of Teaching Composition in the Multi Language World (Matsuda).  Your coverage of the article layed the ground work for an important les on the field of writing in general, and the choice to share a video from a vintage ESL class was quite telling in terms of the complex cultural territory we cover when we consider the politics of language instruction in general.  A sense of legitimacy and power conferred in the mastery of language (in writing) requires a certain kind of determination (twice the time!), as well as a ceaseless supply of intellectual curiosity.  Yet Writing Centers, tutors, first year Comp programs often create learning environments where the ELL student is an afterthought.  There is little preparation and even less effective policy that truly supports this vast population of learners.  This is a truth despite the dramatic diversity of our local context.  Our own NJ could very well be more multilingual that the UN (or at least on par).  And still, we have little in place to support this multi-linguistic reality in our shared learning contexts.  Our discussion revealed that the ELL reality is not for the faint of heart.  To learn institutionally under such limited resources while experiencing a  dismissal of any previous global, cultural, multi-linguistic knowledge often becomes part of a sting of stigmatization & “remediation”.  What remains is a profound challenge that is rarely confronted comprehensively (whether by educators or institutions).  I think it is important to acknowledge the psychic truth of ELL experience.  For any academic consideration of these issues (through theory) should always be rooted in a compassionate understanding of that inherent struggle.  What is clear that we need further support from a professional development standpoint.


Thanks to Tom for introducing us to the Cope & Kalantzis article.  Their work is overall a focus on the importance of multiliteracies that should indeed fuel our teaching and learning in this day and age. The term ‘multiliteracies’ refers to two major aspects of language use today – the first is the variability of meaning-making in different cultural, social or domain-specific contexts. These differences are becoming ever more significant in our communications.  The second aspect of language use today arises in part from the characteristics of new media. Meaning is made now in ways that are increasingly multimodal.  This new media environment makes it possible for discourse communities to diverge.  Writers can find and develop voices that are truer to their evolving selves.  For example – identity-speak, academic-speak, profession-speak, peer-speak, diaspora-speak, generation-speak, fad-speak, affinity-speak.  New media (via our multiliteracies) intensifies the logic of “discourse divergence” (our different ways of communicating). In short, the result is that our knowledge and culture(s) become more fluid, contestable and open. Cope & Kalantzis contend that discourses become less mutually intelligible, and we need to put more effort into cross-cultural dialogues in order to get things done, and to understand eachother.  This is an easy-to-see point.  But I think one of the important take aways from this article includes this observation:  One of the great paradoxes of today’s era of globalisation is that we are undoubtedly becoming more closely interconnected in many respects: communications, media, trade, travel, capital flows, knowledge flows and culture flows.  But we are also simultaneously making ourselves more different.  For this reason we need to learn to become discerning, ethical navigators of our new media environment, avoiding the harm to self and others that can also accompany the shift in the balance of agency.


Please remember that there are “scholarships” to attend the conference (available when registering), so the #OpenEd20 conference might be a wonderful way to expand your horizons and learn from many next week!

Your to do list:

Vote!!!  (I know most of you have already done this.  I voted about three or four weeks ago.  Still, just a friendly reminder to participate in our democratic process.

Read: The Erasure of the Sentence by Robert Connors (Diana’s selection)

Read: Grammar, Grammars, and the Teaching of Grammar by Patrick Hartwell (Maura’s selection)

Blog #8 Due- Reflection on the Connors & Hartwell readings

Have a great week, and remember to be patient with your self, with others, and with the processes-in-play.

See you next Monday,

Dr. Zamora


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