ML2 – Second Language Literacies

A blog for the Second Language Literacies course from the MA in Learning and Teaching Processes in Second Languages (ML2) at UPB-Medellín




















        Autor:             Edin Enrique Lemos M.



                                           Coordinador:      Raúl A. Mora



                                             Medellin, Septiembre 2013



Analysis of the textbooks.

To start to talk about traditional books, it is good idea that they did not have teaching resources such as, audiovisual aids, they were lacked of professional orientation of the editorials, and there were not a relationship between the discourse and context, among others. That is, to develop the academic activities was very difficult.

Some of the books that I have used to study and to teach are: English for Today. William R. Slager. The national Council of Teachers of English McGraw-Hill Book Company; Grammatica y Conversación. Arroyo Mitchell. For Adult Students of English as a Second Language. The Macmillan Company; another Look A Basic Course in English. Michael Walker; Practice your English. Audrey L wright. ; new interchange. Jack Richards.

To analyze the books with which I started my teaching process, I may say that it had a special map of the United States of America. Its distribution was of 12 chapters, with few images in white and black color, each chapter had a section of grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, reading and conversation about its culture, but in these sections there were not any kind of resources at all to work with the book. That is to say, the book did not have a cd to work with the listening activity; or extra class workshops. Anyway this was a good experience, because I had to look for some different strategies creating and developing topics to get the success of them in their process of learning.

The contents were focused on Students and not to develop strategies to transcend in their own learning. The material was relevant for the process of class, but it was not related to our context.

The positioning that the author did in his text on concepts in the semantic field was good, but It is possible to say that the writer did not address the topics to the social construction of them self; the lessons planning were only to help Teachers and Students in their practices to learn and apply about some concepts, but not to build a social Discourse, because as Lau argued “if the Students are given adequate support, they are capable to develop their own construction”. (Lau 2012).

Remember are Shor said “Through words and other actions, we build ourselves in a world that is building us”.(I. Shor, 1992). So, according to Critical Literacy the books were a little adequate to the epoch, but not to the Children´s Discourse, because it did not have information to get the attention of children, and did not have link or web sites to go beyond of the discourse.

Even though the culture of language we were working was important, the discourse in the book was not related with the context, because the book had customs from United States and we lived in Quibdó – Chocó; a black people land with a traditional behavior and African Customs, but I tried to adapt the topics with our context and goals.

Some time ago, Students were taught through basic comprehension strategies such as prediction, summarizing, and determining meaning from context; now, everything is different, the texts are according to the context or environment and it corresponds to the demands of the new generations who have mixed the literacy with the new technologies or ICT. At present, besides of words, and images, the books also have sounds and all these new tools help to the student to learn better and faster and to the teacher to get better and make easier our academic duties.

Of course, the traditional process of learning has been broken, because of the inclusion of the ICT to improve access to the knowledge; then the Teachers actually, have modified their teaching practices, due to their historical, societal, and technological changes. On stated by Mora Vélez, R. A. (2010).

At present, schools texts have also some special links to help teachers and students to reinforce the topics or activities, and it is possible because editorials and the new system of Education have adopted and incorporate new media and new technologies into the books and into the classroom.  For instance, the digital innovation such as computers, are cultural artifacts product of human activity and this technology is to support the process of education and to promote the academic interaction among students.

As Stuart A Selber stated, “technology is invested with meaning and expectations, and any account of its role in modern society must recognize the implications of this process. The effect of technology on the way we live is partly determined by the images, ideas, and practices which are incorporated in it” (Stuart A. Multiliteracies for a digital age)

The new views on literacy, actually invites us to rethink learning and teaching in new and more meaningful ways, it is because the Critical Discourse Analysis looks for developing and maintaining a positive attitude of the Students that help them to discover their special talents and abilities in the classroom or in their environment, and this is the point to start of an own social construction.

As Joan Wink argued “Changing times are changing education, schools are social, cultural, and political environments which reflect the world around them”.  It is amazing how much we can learn about each student’s culture! They represent the various cultures among the group. There are many definitions of cultures, but essentially they all have two commonalties: cultures are learned and they are shared, so, it is possible learning from our own culture.

When Joan Wink talks about Critical Literacy,  she considers that anytime we as teachers can create classroom practices that help students understand that texts are social constructions, texts are not neutral, authors draw upon particular discourses, authors make certain conscious and unconscious choices when constructing texts, all texts have gaps, or silences, and particular representations within (Joan Wink. Notes from Real World)

Critical Literacy (CL) is reflective and reflexive, because language use and education are social practices utilized to critically study them selves

Yet, though language is fateful in teaching us what kind of people to become and what kind of society to make, discourse is not destiny we can redefine ourselves and remake society, This is where critical literacy begins, for questioning power relations, discourses, and identities in a world not yet finished, just, or humane. (I. Shor, 1992).

The student is the subject of the process of learning to read and write as an act of knowing and of creating in any pedagogical situation, so if a pupil needs the teacher´s help, does not mean that it nullifies the student´s creativity and responsibility for constructing his or her own written language and for reading the same one. But anyway, the teacher must help students to read beyond the text on its literal level and to raise the awareness of their own ideologies.

As I Short explained, “Critical literacy thus challenges the status quo in an effort to discover alternative paths”. The status quo is the “state of the moment”, which refers to the global state of a subject at a particular time, it means to the continuation of equilibrium, though the individual factors may change, but in a complementary way, by retaining the state of global equilibrium.

Remind that as Freire and Macedo said “reading the word implies continually reading the world and this dynamic movement is central to literacy process”. (Freire + Macedo. Chapter – one).

New times ask teachers to be prepared to respond to the new challenges of students to build their own knowledge to improve their social conditions. Then the “critical literacy would make clear the connection between knowledge and power. It would present knowledge as a social construction linked to norms and values”. Aronowitz’s and Giroux’s (1985) so, an instructional focus on critical literacy (CL) encourages students to become active readers and writers of cultural texts where they can create their own meanings to shape and transform their social conditions. (Lankshear & McLaren, 1993; Shor, 1992).

That is, as mentioned Freire and Macedo “the process of reading and writing always involve critical perception and interpretation of the reader”. (Freire + Macedo. Chapter – one).

It could be a good idea to review that as Luke roughly said the term critical is derived from the Greek adjective kriticos, the ability to argue and judge (Luke A 2012). This is the most important point of CL that is understood as “learning to read and write as part of the process of becoming conscious of one’s experience as historically constructed within specific power relations”(I. Shor, 1992).

To encouraging critical literacy in the students, through education, the teacher must advance students’ ability to understand, articulate, and act democratically in their social experience. Finally, teachers have to say to students that they need to learn how to command the dominant language, in order to survive in a changing society.














IRA SHOR. What is Critical Literacy?

College of Staten Island, CUNY

Mora Vélez, R. A. (2010). An analysis of the literacy beliefs and practices of faculty and graduates from a preservice English teacher education program (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign IL.


Sunny Man Chu Lau.  (2012) Reconceptualizing Critical Literacy Teaching in ESL Classrooms


Paulo Freire and Donaldo Macedo. Literacy: Reading the word and the world

The Importance of the Act of Reading.

Daniel Cassany and Josep M. Castellà. Aproximación a la literacidad crítica

Joan Wink. Critical Literacy.  Notes from a Real World


As Stuart A Selber. Multiliteracies for a digital age

Southern Illinois University Press





  1. Edin,I consider really relevant the reference you made of Joan Wink: “Changing times are changing education, schools are social, cultural, and political environments which reflect the world around them.” This is something we have lived during the time we have been teachers because we can see the changes inside the classrooms in terms of tools, and in the way the students read the world.Every day their points of view are changing due to the technologies, and of course,the access they have to the ICTs, which also makes us reflect and at the same time makes us transform the paradigms we had when we started to work in our profession.Very good Edin.

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This entry was posted on September 14, 2013 by in Assignments.
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