Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

Possible Co-existence?

July 12th, 2014 · No Comments

There are two articles to be read for this topic, but I am only focusing on Carrington’s Txting – the End of Civilization (again)?.

Many educators are shocked when their students hand in assignments that are written in texting language. Many wonder if texting is going to ruin students’ ability to write in Standard English. Carrington made an compelling argument to outline the dilemma that English teachers encounter and to offer another point of view to the controversy.

When I was reading the article, this question instantly popped up in my mind: who determined what is Standardized English? Then more questions followed: can language be changed overtime? If so, who is permitting the change or what is driving the change? Language keeps on evolving. From Old English, to Middle English to now Modern, can there be more progress? Why are educators terrified by the texting language? Is it because they are not the experts of this new literacy?

These questions left unsolved after I finished the article. However, I found it interesting how Carrington brought the social aspect of texting to light. Outside of the classroom, most of our students nowadays are engaged in simplifying the languages into short-forms or replacing expressions with emoticons. This is the literary currency that is being practiced outside of class right now. On the other hand, when students are in class, they need to code-switch, writing and reading in Standardized English. I found this process of switching between two literacies interesting because in some way, it reminded of translation. Being an ELL learner and teaching ELL classes, I found that language could be easily interfered by your daily social interaction or practices. For example, one of my ELL student directly translated a Chinese saying into English in one of his assignments. Since I had that chinese background, I instantly understood what he was trying to say. However, other teachers might be clueless. It became a perfect teaching moment. I told him the right way to express whatever he tried to say. I think the same method could be applied. As teachers, we need to acknowledge that students’ usage of texting for social interaction. Students have some kind of background knowledge to grammar or sentence structure in order to construct a comprehendible text. Therefore, we cannot really indicate that it is degrading Standardized language. Texting is just another form for students to be more efficiently express their thoughts. At the same time, as teachers, we need to help them develop the literacy that is being valued by the dominant professional realm that will allow them to be successful in the future.

In my opinion, these two literacies can definitely co-exist. We just need to figure out how or what is the best way to introduce this form of language into the classroom.


Tags: Presentation · Seminar Prompts · Social Media

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