Multiple literacies

Posted on Wednesday, 9 January, 2008 by


all this on literacies??

Talking and thinking more about “transliteracy” today. I read Bev´s page on literacies and a whole new world of previous work on literacies opened. Gosh. How interesting. How strange that none of this was quoted or referred to in Thomas’ article, as the main point, that of accepting “multiple literacies” is taken.

New Literacy Studies (NLS) denies the earlier notion of literacy as being a set of skills or competences that rest on culturally specific values about what is proper literacy. It challenges the way that literacy practices associated with people of different classes or different ethnic groups are presented as inadequate or unsuccessful attempts to achieve the proper literacy of the dominant culture. NLS uses language like “dominant literacies” and “literacy varieties” rather than, simply, “literaracy”.

Cope and Kalantzis outline the rationale for multiliteracies:

The Multiliteracies argument runs like this: our personal, public and working lives are changing in some dramatic ways, and these changes are transforming our cultures and the ways we communicate. This means that the way we have taught literacy, and what counts for literacy, will also have to change.

The term `Multiliteracies’ highlights two of the most important, and closely related changes. The first is the growing significance of cultural and linguistic diversity. The news on our television screens screams this message at us every day. And, in more constructive terms, we have to negotiate differences every day, in our local communities and in our increasingly globally interconnected working and community lives. (…)The globalisation of communications and labour markets makes language diversity an ever more critical local issue.

The second major shift encompassed in the concept of Multiliteracies is the influence of new communications technologies. Meaning is made in ways that are increasingly multimodal in which written-linguistic modes of meaning are part and parcel of visual, audio, and spatial patterns of meaning. Take for instance the multimodal ways in which meanings are made on the World Wide Web, or in video captioning, or in interactive multimedia, or in desktop publishing, or in the use of written texts in a shopping mall. To find our way around this emerging world of meaning requires a new, multimodal literacy.

So speaking of mutilple literacies is important because, in my own words: Increasingly, we have to negotiate differences in language and culture, and -with ICT- we make meaning in multi-modal ways. These changes transform communication and culture.

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