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





 Leydy Viviana Castaño González

Yufrainy Perea Palacios

Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana

Dr.Raúl Mora

ML2 Semester II 2016.




This paper proposes a framework for literacy, new literacy and digital literacy principally in public school setting. These are issues that currently schools need to analysis in order to face it in effective way and do part of our changing society. It is important for language teachers reflect about what they need consider refers to opportunities these new environments arises for writing and reading. In this way we discuss based in different authors,  how these new modes of literacy has impact teaching and learning process and how we can integrate within curriculum different resources in order to transform the English classes and to foster critical literacy not as a neutral practice but also as a  social practices.

Key words: Literacy, New Literacy, Digital literacy, digital resources.



Since the beginning at the humanity was born with the man, the need to communicate. That need leads human to different ways to make meaning by creating different ways to communicate that is why some authors argue that every communication is multimodal. At the beginning of the civilization, there was an only language because there exist an only tribe in the south of Africa, but then people were spread to different places giving place to the creation of different language. It means first inhabitants became multilingual.

The first civilization is a kind of “synesthesia civilization”, since in spite of the complexity of languages they developed the capacity to make meaning in different modes. That is to say, it is characterized for the rise of different language and the creation of different modes of making meaning: gesture, image, sound, word. Then, the second civilization took place; a civilization characterized for the beginning of writing. The world of meaning of the first civilization was influenced by writing in the second civilization.

With the arrival of the modernism at the end of this period and the invention of printing in 1450, a phase of about 500 years took place; it is called Literacy. Being literate languages those that have a graphic representation of its words. With the rise of literacy, the formal institutions to teach reading and writing took place, being  reading and writing an important mechanism to succeed in the new world   (Kalantzis and Cope 2012).

With the arrival of the third globalization in the 20th century, there was also a change in the way people make meaning. The twenty century brought the invention of mass media, which impacted the way how people read and write, this impact broaden Literacy into other terms:  “new literacies,” “multiliteracies,” “multimodalities,”

“Information and communication technologies (ICT),” “digital media,” “media literacy,” and “arts-based knowing“ (Kist, 2012).

New literacies Classrooms

The emergence of digital technologies has accelerated a shift from the dominance of print in many communication and information sources to visual modes and greater reliance on other modes of representation (Kress, 2003). “The idea of new literacies focuses on ways in which meaning- making practices are evolving under contemporary conditions that include, but are in no way limited to, technological changes associated with the rise and proliferation of digital electronics”.( Knobel & Lankshear, 2014,p.1) .

When dealing with new literacies we are referring to an extension of literacy practices, such as way, those new practices leads us to go beyond print text. The rise of mass media makes authors think how to incorporate technology in literacy practices, since most students are digital native.

Some authors argue reasons for creating new literacies classrooms: Buckingham (1993), Buckingham & Sefton-Green (1994), Eisner (1994, 1997), Luke & Elkin (1998), New London Group (1996) point out that youth require this new literacy due to the increase of new communication tools.  Kist (2000), states that this is a time when the forms of expressions available to people are multiplying very fast. Negroponte (1995) affirms that kids at the present have more means of learning about the world and more means of expressing themselves through technology, the use of which keeps growing potentially.

Kist (2012) affirms that there are five characteristics attached to “new literacies” classrooms:

  • Daily work in multiple forms of representation;
  • Teacher talks about various symbol systems;
  • Teacher think-aloud when working in these different forms;
  • A mix of individual and collaborative activities; and
  • A high level of engagement (p.1).

New literacies Class Rooms must assistances different ways, in which students make meaning (Kist, 2000). It implies to recognize the capacity of human being to produce and handle symbols, to include in the curriculum the development of multiple forms of intelligences, and do an emphasis on the plurality of meaning and intelligences, that is to say new literacy class rooms must promote “cognitive pluralism”(John- Steiner, 1995) by giving students the freedom to read and write what they want and how they want to (Kist, 2000).

Those cognitive pluralism classrooms attempt to promote both, cognitive and affective aspects by giving the students the freedom to interact with teacher and classmates (ibid, 2000). It means literacy is not something lineal that is promoted in a just single way, but it is necessary to be open-minded to all forms, in which students make meaning. When students feel free to produce meaning it is when their creativity takes place and students could conceive literacy practices as something amusing.

When there is a good interaction between teachers and students the environment of class is comfortable, the classroom becomes a place where we stay for hours and hours without getting bored and boys think of school as something pleasant. Teacher must benefit the diversity of talent of their students, because the multiple intelligence makes one student expresses in a different way than another does. If we enclose students in a single way of expression, then we are not promoting new literacy in class, since we are assuming all students have the same ability. By promoting cognitive Pluralism in class, we are engaging students in amusing ways to read and write.

New literacies classrooms should be a kind a studio where there is a room for different ways of representation: writing, drawing, making sculpture, dancing, acting and directing, shaping different materials, shooting films and videos. Besides, each teacher should have his- her own to produce multimedia work (Kist, 2000). The above statement leads us to reflect on our teaching practices and draw the conclusion that definitely our classrooms  are very far to turn into new literacies ones, and to stand the question whether  in Colombia there are any new literacy classroom or not. Another question that emerges is: is Colombia ready for new literacy classrooms? is Colombia ready to do an investment of such magnitude that new class rooms are larger and each teacher has one from his- her own?.

As far as we are concerned the idea of having a new literacy class room it is amazing, it could be a kind of a dream, actually our school is such a small that high school has to operate in the morning, and high elementary one in the afternoon, because the classrooms are not enough to keep the whole institution together.

New literacy classrooms deal with lonely and collaborative experience, such a way there is a balance between them. Solitary experiences must first recognize multiple intelligences; it is to say that every student is unique and has his-her own way to convey; and second, to individualize teaching by leaving student free to think of problems and projects, which must be modeling by the teacher. A classroom where student work on what they want is a classroom promotes the motivation (ibid 2000) and then engagement. Because there is not any more motivation but doing what one pleases.

One example of this new literacy practice that Professor Mora provides to his Ml2 literacy students, in which they are free to write frameworks, essays and create videos. Students select the issue they like the most and they use different modes to make meaning, besides that, student can work individually or in groups. The result of this practice is the student´s engagement, they feel motivated to read and write because it is not an imposition, but a choice. When students are engaged in it means that this literacy practice is effective.

For new literacy classrooms it is also needed teachers to change their minds, since this endeavor must not lay just on the literature teacher, but the shift it is up to all the teachers that serves the different subjects. Some of the implications teachers face when creating new literacy class rooms is mentioned in Knobel and Lank shear (2014) they state four of them,

In the first one, they mention how important is that teachers are aware of the meaning of being completely engaged in new literacies practices; in the second one, they assert new literacies aren’t a single, generic “thing.” They change depending on the practice, the people involved in using them, and the ways of speaking that have developed within a practice ; in the third one , they declare that the way “assessment” works in new literacy spaces has significant implications for how teachers approach literacy instruction in classrooms”; for last , they emphasize that  a concern with new literacies is a concern with preparing students as best we can for a world in which there are few constants and the near future will involve artifacts, social relations, processes, routines, processes, and practices barely imaginable now (p.4,5).

Critical literacy classrooms.



 In each society there are social ideologies, identities, and power relations which benefit to a few people, but affect negatively others. In critical literacy students are guided to argue about how these ideologies, identities, and power relations work and how language can confront them (Hammond and Macken-Horarik 1999). In this regards, Janks (2008) states Critical literacy education attempts to foster students to make question and answer them. On his viewpoint, language is more than a tool to communicate, but an instrument that deals with the way we read and write the world (Freire & Macedo, 1987).

In his pedagogy of the oppressed, Freire (1984) proposes that literacy education embodied in reflection and action is meant to empower the underprivileged through a dialogical process. As teachers it is imperative we to examine strategies, techniques, practices and methods which lead to foster critical thinking in our students t such as way they could go beyond  print text and examine it from different perspectives .


(McLaughlin & Allen, 2002)


In the next part of an article, (Teaching Critical Literacy 2016, P.3) it refers to the instructional Frameworks we can use to teach about Critical Literacy, in this paper it is mentioned two helpful frameworks. The first one is used to teach the critical literacy strategies. The second one is used to teach critical literacy lessons in which students apply the strategies. When dealing with critical literacy strategies McLaughlin and Allen (2002) suggest a five step direct instruction process, which involves explaining, demonstrating, guiding, practicing, and reflecting.


DEMONSTRATE the strategy, using a think-aloud, a read-aloud, and an overhead projector or chalkboard.


PRACTICE by having students work with partners or independently to apply the critical literacy strategy


REFLECT on how the strategy helps students read from a critical stance.


GUIDE the students to work in small groups or with partners to create responses.

Consequently, they propose some strategies or kind of techniques that could be useful  taking into account the aforementioned steps:  Problem Posing, Patterned Partner Reading, Bookmark Technique, Switching  Connection Stems, Say Something Short,  Connection Stems ; among others. The aforementioned steps and strategies are reinforced by a Critical Literacy Lesson Framework   that it is meant to promote Engagement Students’ Thinking, Guidance Students’ Thinking, Extending Students’ thinking and Reflection (McLaughlin & Allen 2002).



Before reading, engage students in the lesson by activating background knowledge, motivating students by introducing the text, and setting a purpose for reading.


During reading, help the students engage with the text by prompting them as they read silently, having them engage in Patterned Partner Reading (McLaughlin & Allen, 2002a) or other methods that promote engagement with text, such as the Bookmark Technique (McLaughlin & Allen, 2002a), Connection Stems , or Say Something .

EXTENDING STUDENTS’ THINKING After reading, help the students extend their reading from a critical stance by engaging in critical discussions and taking action based on what they have read.

REFLECTION At the conclusion of the lesson, reflect on (a) what you taught, (b) why you taught it, (c) how you think the lesson went, (d) how students reacted to the lessons, (e) what you plan to do to continue teaching from a critical perspective, and (f) what additional observations or comments you may have.

Further, the aforementioned there are many other strategies and ways to promote critical literacy in our classrooms, it is up to us our students do not just keep memorizing, but they are aware of what is implicit in what they are reading. Critical Literacy goes beyond print text, it also involves being critic in regards to the information found on Internet, to be able to examine how useful is a website. Educators today must find ways to prepare students to successfully navigate information, critically evaluate it, and competently learn to use new tools of communication for the production of texts (Gainer, 2013)

Digital literacy.


Digital Literacy is the ability to understand information and more important to evaluate and interpret information critically, you cannot understand information you find on the internet without evaluating its sources and placing it in context (Gilster, 1997). In addition, Jones & Flannigan (2006) argue that digital literacy refers to the assortment of cognitive-thinking strategies that consumers of digital information utilice. Digital literacy is usually regarded as a measure of the ability of users to perform tasks in digital environments. In this way, we as a language teacher need consider the opportunities but also the risk digital environments arise. In our context in public schools, is very important to take full advantage from the chances that technologies and information bring to the language teaching and learning process.


In this digital era, when teachers have a rich group of tools for language teaching and learning, the question is, are they using these tools for a new ways to teach learning and writing? it means, the traditional methods for teach literacy are really transforming the way of learning and teaching process or only are changed the implements for do the same thing as many years ago. Digital literacy is more than digital tools, it is reflect in what we need for our context and what we have available for develop literacy in our students. ELT teachers are accustomed to frequent subject innovations, but not necessarily more resourceful or open to new ideas, in addition teachers are faced with some barriers that prevent them to employ information and communications technology in the classroom or develop supporting materials through ICT (Hadi & Zeinab, 2012).


The choices of resources, and the way they are used, can be linked to different learning theories, which may be invoked to explain or predict learning benefits from the use of ICT (Wilshart and Blease, 1999). In our context, digital literacy can be so useful, it is because students from public school really appreciate the digital environments and the way teachers implement these in different literacy practices. For instance, it is possible affirm that the positive results in the literacy development using ICT in public school is the way it is integrated into the curriculum and in the way teachers guide new ways of literacy within academic practices.

On the other hand, is essential for the effective students’ literacy development take into consideration the context where they are involve. According to Byram (2003), Language is learned in context, thus teachers should take into account what is going on around our students, their culture which involve customs, behaviors, expressions and interactions. In addition, as Amicucci (2014) affirms referring to a study about student’s perspective on digital literacy “ in any given class, students will have varied access to digital technologies, and some may not welcome the presence of digital technologies within education, making it pertinent for teachers to acquire knowledge about students’ individual positions as technology users”. It is so relevant in our context in public school, where we can find a high proportion of students from low socio-economic backgrounds, consequently not all students have the same opportunity to interact out school with digital technologies, so the few digital activities to fostering literacy is reduced to the academic activities at school.

Some of the most relevant aspects that digital literacy brings to our curriculum is the opportunity to engage students in autonomy and in critical literacy developing, even though it is possible using literacy process as a sociocultural practice. Bringing digital use into the classroom provides students with opportunities to reflect and write critically upon the social communicative contexts in which they participate (Ammicucci, 2014).


On the other hand, digital literacy is evidently multimodality; it results tracing the relationship between literacy and different modes to implementation of ICT, digital platforms, online communication, multimedia resources and several digital tools we can use for literacy developing. The New London Group (1996) proposes the modes of communication as resources that permit the design of meanings; the modes are linguistic, audio, spatial, gestural, and visual mode. All these modes are immerse in digital literacy development and all they are an essential resources for fostering writing and reading processes in our students.

This multimodality invites teachers to rethink the text used in our literacy practices that is not only writing but also different ways to represent knowledge and use technology involving images,  audio, video recording, music etc.  For instance,  Lemke (1998),(cited by Leander & Lewis, 2008), claims that “all literacy is multimedia literacy: You can never make meaning with language alone; there must always be a visual or vocal realization of linguistic signs that also carries nonlinguistic meaning”.

In this sense, it is important carry some of the tools that digital literacy provides for reading and writing development, therefor the way we as a language teachers can mapped it into our curriculum in public school. We have organized our discussion to focus on some digital tools and how it can shape the literacy development in relation to digital environments principally in public schools.

Here is important to take account what Leander and Lewis (2008) assertion “it is not the computer or the Internet itself that is central to literacy, but the way that these tools of technology shape social relations and practices”. We consider that there are several ways and tools to integrate technology and take advantage of different tools in our classroom; however, we will consider four of them, websites, blogs, wikis and digital games.

The first one is Websites. The everyday use of websites are an issue that concern young people over the world, they use these for communicate and for entertainment, but sometimes they are not aware of the principles of safely and security they must have in mind when they are digital user or about rights and responsibilities they have. For instants is important to guide students in a critical and creative way to use and understand websites and not only accessing skills and navigation skills. With this in mind, teachers can use websites as a motivating tool to develop literacy in our students in meaningful ways, principally guide reading and writing in a critical orientation, it is engage them to be critical participants in websites, analysis the readings they are espoused, writing commentaries and participating in groups discussions.

Creating a website for a specific group in school, can be a great way to motivate students to read and write in context and in a critical way, students can have digital task, communicative practices not only with teacher, but also with classmates and other digital users, they can post multimodal text with different purpose, upload assignments and be autonomous participants in their own literacy processes.One of the most popular Web 2.0 tools in this digital era, are blogs. Blogs are a type of websites created in web journal format and used by individuals to express opinions, describe experiences, build relationships, and exchange information within digital space (Leander & Lewis, 2008).


Blogs can provide opportunities for students to develop autonomy, defined it as “capacity for detachment, critical reflection, decision-making and independent action” (Little 1991,cited at Mynard,2008) it is possible in the way that keeping blogs, students begin to demonstrate “independent action” by taking responsibility for ownership of their writing as they are producing a publicly accessible document.(Mynard,2008). In this manner, Blogs as a digital and a multimodal tool can be used in the classroom for Create meaning literacy environment in the way we implemented it. For example when we engage students to create an own blog, we are sure in this space students will not only put in action their language skills, but also their likes, their postulation about different issues and their own culture becoming a rich opportunity to fostering literacy processes.

Wikis are another type of digital writing space that allows collaborative revision and editing of texts by multiple users (Leuf and Cunningham, 2001). An example is Wikipedia, a free content, multilingual, web-based encyclopedia project created volunteers. (Leander & Lewis, 2008). Wikis can be used in our classrooms in public schools in different reading and writing practices including individual and cooperative tasks, write several social commentaries about local and global issues, for example students can be engage to build a wiki in “English” about their hometown.


It is a great opportunity to use multimedia resources and shape digital literacy in a social practice, in these digital space students can not only fostering their reading and writing skills but also pay attention to the implications to use it in digital communication.                  It means students should be pay attention not only in the structures in the writing process but also in other considerations as ethical principles in order to respect the authors rights, representations within their literacy production in order to have concern for the believes of probable audience from same and other cultures.

Another tool for take advantage of students as digital users, are digital games. Digital games first involve student’s identity in the way they can choose the different types of digital games or the way they can cross the obstacles or challenge within the game, as Gee (2014) argues, “Games create cultural and social structures that young people can become heavily involved in”.

On the other hand digital games. In addition, digital games are cultural representations in which youth people are immersed and they are allowed to take identities and created different representations of knowledge, when a student use a digital game they have the opportunity to think critically, to propose a new ways to solve problems present in this digital environment. They have the challenge to write their own experience and when the games are online, they have the opportunity to fight or collaborative virtual missions, doing use of digital communication and sharing ideas and behavior from own culture to people may be to other different.

We as language teachers can motivate students to analysis inside games, social issues, behavior, characters and ideological aspects and consequently try to understand it through the experience in that game. As Altura & Curwood (2015) discuss teachers can use games as texts for study, as tools to motivate students to be creative problem solvers, and as a way to teach young adults to be critical about what they are playing.

Move to the other perspective about digital literacy, it is important to engage students to be critical in which information and communication they use on internet. Referring to the user whom do not examine, critique, and filter extensive amounts of information, Leander & Lewis (2008) claims that building users’ awareness of commercial interests and transnational flows is no easy matter.

Relate to this is important to leader students in a critical reading of information provided from different internet backgrounds and be carefully with use safely digital environments. On the other hand, website architecture can also seduce readers to take up particular positions and ideologies even as it appears to allow space for readers to ‘create’ the reading experience (Leander & Lewis, 2008) and in this aspect is significant engage students to pass from passive listening or spectators to active participant in group discussions and from writing fac-oriented compositions to critical social commentaries. (Fajardo, 2015).

In conclusion, as we have discussed previously through this paper, new literacy and digital literacy have much to offer to xxI century teachers, all of them provide useful tools to transform education. It is our concern to turn learning –teaching process in something engaging for both, teachers and students. As far as we are concerned we recognize this assignment has changed our mind in regards what teaching literacy is. We believed our teaching won´t be the same, because now we are open-minded teachers who are willing to introduce all this world of resources, considerations and strategies that we have at hand, in order to engage student in literacy processes.

4.200 words


Altura, G. J., & Curwood, J. S. (2015). Hitting Restart. Journal of Adolescent & Adult

            Literacy59(1), 25-27.

Amicucci, A. N. (2014). How they really talk. Journal of Adolescent & Adult       Literacy57(6),              483-491.

Burke, ., Harste, J. C., & Short, K. G. (1996). Creating classrooms for authors inquirers.

Buckingham, D., & Sefton-Green, J. (1994). Cultural studies goes to school: reading

and teaching popular culture.

Byram (2003) Fajardo, M. F. (2015). A review of critical literacy beliefs and practices

of English language learners and teachers. University of Sydney Papers in TESOL, 10.

Eisner, E. W. (1996). Cognition and curriculum reconsidered. SAGE.

Freire, P., & Macedo, D. (1987). Reading the word and the world. Westport, CT: Bergin   

              & Garvey.

Gainer, J. (2013). 21st‐Century Mentor Texts: Developing Critical Literacies in the

Information Age. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy57(1), 16-19.

Gee, J. P. (2014). What video games have to teach us about learning and

literacy. Macmillan.

Gilster, P., & Glister, P. (1997). Digital literacy. Wiley Computer Pub.

Goudvis, A., & Harvey, S. (2000). Strategies that work: Teaching comprehension to

enhance understanding. York, ME: Stenhouse.

Hadi S. & Zeinab S. (2012). Integration of ICT in language teaching: Challenges

and barriers, 2012 3rd International Conference on e-Education, e-Business, e-Management and

                 e Learning.

Hammond, J., & MACKEN‐HORARIK, M. A. R. Y. (1999). Critical literacy:

Challenges and questions for ESL classrooms. Tesol Quarterly33(3), 528-544.

Janks, H. (2008). Teaching language and power. In Encyclopedia of language and

               education (pp. 183-193). Springer US.

Jones, B., & Flannigan, S. L. (2006). Connecting the digital dots: Literacy of the 21st

century. Educause Quarterly29(2), 8-10.

Kalantzis, M., & Cope, B. (2012). Literacies. Cambridge University Press.

Kist, W. (2012). Middle schools and new literacies: Looking back and moving

forward. Voices from the Middle19(4), 17.

Kist, W. (2000). Beginning to create the new literacy classroom: What does the new

literacy look like?. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy43(8), 710-718.

Knobel, M., & Lankshear, C. (2014). Studying new literacies. Journal of adolescent &

              adult literacy58(2), 97-101.

Kress, G. (2003). Literacy in the new media age. New York: Routledge.

Leander, K. M., & Lewis, C. (2008). Literacy and internet technologies. In

 Encyclopedia of language and education (pp. 469-486). Springer US.

Luke, A., Elkins, j (1998). Reinventing literacy in new times. journal of adolescent &

 adult literacy, 42,4-7 .

McLaughlin, M., & Allen, M. B. (2002). Guided Comprehension: A Teaching Model

for Grades 3-8. Order Department, International Reading Association, 800 Barksdale Road,

PO Box 8139, Newark, DE 19714-8139.

Mynard, J. (2008). A blog as a tool for reflection for English language learners.

              The Philippine ESL Journal: Volume, 77.

Negroponte, N. (1995). Being digital. Alfred A. Knorpf: New York

The New London Group. (1996). pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social

Futures. Copyright status. Harvard Educational Review Vol.66 No 1. MA: President and fellows of                Harvard College.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on September 29, 2016 by in Uncategorized.
%d bloggers like this: