A blog for the Second Language Literacies course from the MA in Learning and Teaching Processes in Second Languages (ML2) at UPB-Medellín
English Language II
Professor: Raúl Aberto Mora Ph D.
Robinson Córdoba Mosquera.
Intention of the article.
In this article, I try to do a critical analysis of the agreement that have the basic competency standards, with the context and the critical emphasis that should have its acquisition and application in the real life of the students, starting from the idea that literacy should be viewed not only as the development of skills of reading or writing, but as the possibility that each individual has to express large, clear and consistently from his/her personal position, turning to their experiences, feelings and thoughts that contribute to the construction of new perspectives.
The term “literacy” some definitions
“The word literacy in Anglophone societies has two meanings. The first indicates the acquisition of generic capabilities and the other focuses rather on the teaching and acquisition of the ability to read and write”. (Literacy, UNESCO perspective, 2003, p.1). Langer (1991) takes this notion of interaction of reader with text a step further, contrasting “literacy as the act of reading and writing and literacy as ways of thinking” (p. 13). This author brings up the notion, alluded to in the Workforce Investment Act definition provided above that the standards for literacy depend on the context within which one functions: “…literacy can be viewed in a broader and educationally more productive way, as the ability to think and reason like a literate person, within a particular society” (p. 11). The author argues that: It is the culturally appropriate way of thinking, not the act of reading or writing, which is most important in the development of literacy. Literacy thinking manifests itself in different ways in oral and written language in different societies, and educators need to understand these ways of thinking if they are to build bridges and facilitate transitions among ways of thinking. (p. 13)
My perspective on literacy and standards.
The promotion of literacy in English as a foreign language (EFL) or second language (L2), both in our country, as in many others, has had as its starting point, “To ensure that its citizens are able to communicate using English as one of the most useful tools to insert the country into the processes of universal communication, in the global economy and in the cultural openness with internationally comparable standards, through a structured plan of development of communicative competence throughout the educational system” No, S. G. (22). Estándares Básicos de Competencias en Lenguas Extranjeras: Inglés.(2006). Formar en lenguas extranjeras: Inglés¡ el reto. In this document were established levels by degrees, in which identifies some knowledge that the student must reach, once completed this process. This strategy that has raised the government, has been designed on the basis of globalization, Since having a common language, can open us new perspectives and opportunities, both economic and cultural rights, which can contribute to the creation of a world without frontiers in which the exchange of needs, experiences or points of view through the oral or written communication, to be made more effective regardless of the level of complexity.
Set standards of competence has been a useful strategy that has been undertaken by the national government, as these allow addressing the process that we as classroom teachers, and to set goals according to the program levels by degrees. However, it has not been enough, Since the reality of what is happening within our classrooms has shown that this type of strategies in theory, are very functional and bring many advantages for the development and acquisition of new skills in the process of understanding and management of a second language, but in practice not so much, As to adopt this strategy, which is supported on the bases of the Common European Framework, was not taken into account many of the important factors that are intertwined in a classroom, among them the contextualization of these knowledges. In addition to this, it should have taken into account the fact that the majority of the teachers who teach English in primary school, are not properly prepared for the teaching of English, also take into account other aspects involved in the teaching-learning process, some of them, of type locative, physical, mental and psychological, and although it may talk of unique world and without barriers, this situations continues to mark important differences between countries and between societies.
One of the most profitable branches of this process, is the critical literacy, which leads both to teachers and students, to be aware that the acquisition of communication skills in English as a foreign language (EFL). It is an opportunity that opens us to understand the world in a more comprehensive manner using our perceptions critically and objectively in any discipline and in the social sphere. Critical literacy allows us to examine, from a sociocultural point of view. What meaning acquires today, in the postmodern culture, the practice of reading, interpretation and argumentation critique? “Literacy is a form of socio-political action” (Freire, 1987; Royster, 2000; Morrell, 2008). That is to say, today, the teaching and learning of literacy, involve the compilation of a repertoire of skills necessary to interpret and compose texts in an appropriate manner in varying contexts; and also involves the ability to analyze and criticize objectively real situations of life, Taking as valuable inputs, our own experiences, literacy in a language is not limited to exactly the ability to write and read or repeat an endless number of activities which do not go beyond linguistic and the local, or be superficial activities that apply in the learning of a foreign language, as well as is raised in most of the levels by degrees that appear in the Guía N° 22 de los Estándares Básicos de competencias. From this point of view, it emphasizes the variety of purposes that should approach the critical literacy, such as the multiplicity of social activities in which must be put to the test the capabilities that each one has to understand the world around them and how they connect with it, from a personal point of view, critical and objective. “Individual capabilities play a very important role in the critical literacy, and also the variability of literacy activities of their own in every time and place” (Luke & Elkins (2002). Therefore we can say that literacy is a social practice that is subject to the game of power relations that occur in the different contexts: the class, communities, workplaces, homes and other. A great thing, that does not emphasize the Guía N° 22 developed by the MEN, is that it does not favor the autonomy of the student, But that submits it to the acquisition and application of structures set taking into account the Common European Framework, which only tends to the acquisition of communicative skills in a foreign language, but does not emphasize the use of that literacy to take critical positions involving the student to better understand the world that surrounds it inviting him to discover new things which can contribute to the development of better opportunities for himself and others.
Critical analysis of the standards.
After making a thorough review to Los Estándares Básicos de competencias. in English, I can say from my point of view that they are a good tool support as a roadmap to carve the path toward literacy in English, but are decontextualized from beginning to end as was adopted and not adapted to the reality of education in this country, If we take into account that in most of the public schools of Colombia, one of the main problems is the lack of teachers prepared to teach English in the basic primary, and even sometimes occurs in secondary education especially in the rural area in schools where there are post-primary. These standards have been designed to that English is taught from the first level and up to the last, by teachers qualified to teach the subject, which would imply a much greater investment to that currently makes the national government to truly implement an effective strategy to achieve this goal. Which is that all our students at the end of the cycle of studies in the media, is located in the B1 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference? On the other hand, I think that these standards are designed in obedience to globalization and the demands that makes the economic and cultural openness that have brought the international treaties, but not to the need to make our citizens more aware that the acquisition of critical literacy, It is the opportunity to open our minds and better understand why many things that turn us around, taking into account the critical literacy is centered between literacy and power (Lankshear and McLaren, 1993a) and “which does not adhere only to the notion of reading and writing” (Searle, 1993).
For these reasons, critical literacy is gaining a high level of importance in the field of education. Several authors have offered some definitions that describe what this process means. Luke (2004) literacy refers to ideologies, identities and values as to the codes and skills. It consists of challenging texts; make visible the different versions of the world that they contain. Pitt (1995) discusses the critical literacy as analytical thinking, based on the reading, writing, conversation and dialogue or discussion. According to these approaches, critical literacy provides us ways of thinking that reveal the injustices and inequalities. Enables us to discover interests, point out the disadvantages and become agents of social change, not to be repetitive structures individuals as it is proposed in most of the standards set by the MEN.
It is useful to consider the contributions that make the authors cited in order to understand the scope of the critical literacy in the life of the apprentices to, have the strategies and experiences that will enable them to review the texts, re-read them, analyze them and re-imagine them, opening spaces to build critically the life that unfolds in a particular culture.
Colombia being a country in which a few years ago, took conscience of bilingualism, falls in the trivialization promote global standards that limit to teachers and their students, since there is no sufficient contact between the reality experienced by the student and what they are learning. The student who does not interpret critically their own reality, you will not be able to expand your knowledge beyond or assess the learning of another language that is initially perceived as something alien and useless for his own life. So it would have that complement current standards with methodologies that are more related to our reality heterogeneous, pluralist and multicultural for that education ceases to be something distant and unmovable and becomes something critically alive and moldable in the everyday.
A.A.V.V., Literacy, a UNESCO perspective,(2003), pp.1-5
De Valenzuela, JS (2001). Definitions of Literacy. [Website] Retrieved from http://www.unm.edu/~devalenz/handouts/literacy.html.
Mackie, A. (2003). Race and desire: Toward critical literacies for ESL. TESL Canada Journal, 20(2), 23-37.
Mora, R. A. (2014). Critical literacy as policy and advocacy. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(1), 16-18.
No, S. G. (22). Estándares Básicos de Competencias en Lenguas Extranjeras: Inglés.(2006). Formar en lenguas extranjeras: Inglés¡ el reto.
Riley, K. (2015). Enacting Critical Literacy in English Classrooms. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(5), 417-425.
de Moreno, S. S. (2008). La Alfabetización Crítica. Conceptualización de las Competencias y Estrategias de Lectura Crítica. Letras (0459-1283), 50(76).