Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

txting=the massacre of English as we know it?

July 11th, 2014 · No Comments

The two articles for this week raised a lot of questions for me and were really interesting to read through.  I was somewhat surprised that while both articles were published in 2005, we seem to still have the same anxieties and intense reactions to the effect of txting on what we deem “standard” or “normal” English.  It clearly remains a controversial and heated issue today.

I really liked how Victoria Carrington (2005) pointed out the need for literacy educators to rethink what it means to be literate in today’s society, remembering that “the ultimate purpose of literacy lies outside the classroom” (p. 171).  She believes that students will need to be competent and be able to manipulate a variety of genres indifferent contexts, which means that educators need to be prepared to incorporate and recognize a multitude of literacies in an educational context.  I think my struggle with this is how it’s meant to look, at a practical level, in the classroom.  While I understand the importance and value of developing a strong grasp of multiple literacies, I find it difficult to imagine the role and function of new literacies, such as txting, in the classroom.

I must admit that, while working on the first media project (translating Macbeth into tweets), I was quite unfamiliar with Twitter (and with most social media, for that matter.  #socialmediahermit), and had to really pause and think about how I would go about composing a hashtag.  While I understood it’s basic premise and purpose, I felt like it had changed over the course of time to have a different function.  In class, Teresa mentioned possibly discussing with students the rhetorical function of hashtags; perhaps this is a way in which we can incorporate new genres in a way that is analytical and thoughtful, and encourages students to think critically about the form and function of a language.

Whichever way we choose to widen the literary horizons of our students, I agreed with Naomi S. Baron (2005), who states that txting may be “[n]o harm, but only if these same teachers ensure their students develop a solid grasp of traditional writing conventions as well” (p.31).  I suppose incorporating new forms of language does not necessarily discount more traditional forms, but as Carrington argues, we need to have more conversations about how these different forms of language will interact with each other and possibly co-exist.  It seems that txting is just one of the ways in which language has progressed, but as such a prominent mode of communication, deserves more discussion and exploration into its role and function in our society and how it can help develop a more multi-faceted literacy program in our schools.

Works cited

Baron, N.S. (2005). Instant messaging and the future of language. Communications of the ACM, 46(7), 30-31.

Carrington, V. (2005). Txting: the end of civilization (again)? Cambridge Journal of Education, 35(2), 161-175.


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