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The Social Turn in Language and Literacy Studies LDC MA lecture on Dec 7 th Brian Street.

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1 The Social Turn in Language and Literacy Studies LDC MA lecture on Dec 7 th Brian Street

2 The Social Turn in Language and literacy Studies New Literacy Studies: the social turn in approaches to literacy The social turn in Language Studies: CLT, Critiques and new directions ESRC research project on ‘EAL and Academic Literacies’; some data taking account of the social turn

3 New Literacy Studies New Literacy Studies has pointed in a strong direction to the argument that the study and the teaching of reading and writing can/ should take into account: Literacies in social context Ethnographic perspective ‘literacy events’ and ‘literacy practices’ issues of power and ideology, immediate pragmatic aspects of social relations as people communicate using literacy. Examples from projects in India, Ethiopia, Uganda, Brazil etc.,

4 Everyday Literacy practices: use of surfaces in India 4

5 Learning from the learners; Mehroni, India

6 Everyday Literacy practices: multiple scripts in Ethiopia 6

7 Genres of writing in public spaces: Ethiopia Mosque 7

8 Church Notices: Uganda Kampala Suburb

9 Everyday Literacy practices: street scene in an urban suburb in Brazil 9

10 Applications to Educational Contexts These examples of everyday literacy activities/engagements might not seem at first glance related to academic language use, However, the ethnographic principles would apply in academic contexts too; eg as people move across home and school eg within the educational context there are multiple variations and social practices, as the Academic Literacies approach argues A starting point for such a link might be to build on the Description and Analysis of features of everyday literacy practices for educational purposes, as in the next slide. A similar analysis of features might also be applied to writing in academic contexts

11 Description and Analysis of features of everyday literacy practices to build on for educational purposes Which languages/ which scripts, for which purposes? Surfaces/ materials/ resources/ Hand drawn Orthography –rules, punctuation, spelling etc; Modality; Combination of visual image and writing eg Positioning on building eg images to reinforce written text Genres eg notices; books; messages; instructions etc Notices/ Signs - for information/ instruction/ literary/ interaction Practices associated with texts eg collaborative eg codeswitching/ meshing How to use these concepts for pedagogy and for assessment? 11

12 The social turn in Language Studies How might some of these concepts and issues in NLS apply to the study and teaching of language? There has been a ‘Social turn’ in language studies also; – with regard to the learning of language in general – and of English as a Second/ Additional Language in particular. The first move in this direction, calling upon Del Hymes and the Ethnography of Communication conceptual apparatus, such as ‘communicative competence’, then got somewhat trapped in a narrow pedagogic frame. Critiques of this move (cf Leung) have argued that somehow the wider social context, the ‘practices’ associated with language learning and use and the potential of the ethnographic perspective have got lost in the aim of meeting narrow assessment standards, and the public interest in demonstrating ‘success’. Leung also makes the point that teaching often requires a degree of certainty in terms of the content of teaching, and a research orientation may not be always comfortable. Before addressing such practical outcomes, I now explore what happens if we attempt to apply some of these concepts to Language Studies: Ethnography of Communication Events and Practices Power and Ideology

13 The social turn in Language Studies: Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) The limitations of the grammar-based approaches were increasingly discussed in the 1960s and 1970s, and the merits of more real-life oriented approaches received extensive attention in the language teaching literature, drawing especially on Halliday and Hymes This broadening of the concerns of language teaching to take account of the importance of the ‘social’ in language use provided an important impetus for the development of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) within ELT. In a series of papers Canale and Swain (1980a,1980b; also Canale, 1983, 1984, among others) put forward a theoretical framework for communicative competence for additional/second language teaching which comprises four component competences: grammatical competence: ‘knowledge of lexical items and of rules of morphology, syntax... and phonology; (Canale and Swain, 1980a:29) sociolinguistic competence: ‘...the extent to which utterances are produced and understood appropriately in different... contexts depending on contextual factors such as status of participants, purposes of interaction, and norms and conventions of interaction’ (Canale, 1983:7) discourse competence: ’u]nity of a text... achieved through cohesion in form and coherence in meaning. (Canale, 1983:9) strategic competence: ‘... verbal and non-verbal communication strategies that may be called into action to compensate for breakdowns in communication and speaker actions that can ‘... enhance effectiveness of communication ()’ (Canale, 1983:11). The influence of the concept of communicative competence has not dimmed in thirty years. It would be no exaggeration to say that it has set the parameters for curriculum and pedagogic discussions in language education worldwide.

14 Critiques of CLT ‘There is, however, a difference between the conceptually and analytically oriented discussions on the social dimensions of language and language use, and the ways in which they have been rendered as principles in language teaching. The conceptual insight that there is an intimate connection between socially situated meaning and language form (e.g. Halliday), and the research imperative that communicative competence is to be established empirically through ethnographic observations (e.g. Hymes) have been recontextualised in the CLT frame as teaching (and learning) how to do things with language, using ‘appropriate’ forms of language, implicitly normed on what native speakers would say. Modal verbs such as ‘would’ and ‘could’, for example, are often presented as appropriate choices for polite expressions, Pedagogically this kind of information is interwoven into teaching and learning activities’ (Leung, 2011) ‘In one way or another, communicative competence in ELT has come to be understood in terms of learners’ capacity to reproduce what putative native speakers would say in any given projected scenario’ (Leung, 2005).

15 Dewey on CLT … the CLT paradigm is generally characterized in ELT literature as a shift in focus away from the formal properties of language. The earlier centrality of grammatical structure came to be replaced by an emphasis on the way language functions communicatively. As the notion of communication gained momentum in CLT, however, it increasingly tended to be interpreted in the curriculum as clear definable functional objectives, such as ‘accepting an invitation’, ‘making a complaint’ and so on. From the early 1980s on, the word ‘communicative’ came to be strongly associated with a notional-functional syllabus (Dewey, 2012) Cf the shift from ‘function’ to ‘meaning’ in Social Anthropology

16 ‘Multilingualism, Discourse and Ethnography’ Gardner and Martin-Jones (2012: 1) argue (in 2012 Multilingualism, Discourse and Ethnography Routledge, London): Over the last two decades, sociolinguistic research on multilingualism has been transformed. Two broad processes of change have been at work:  Firstly, there has been a broad epistemological shift to a critical and ethnographic approach, one that has reflected and contributed to the wider turn, across the social sciences, towards critical and poststructuralist perspectives on social life. Secondly, over the last ten years or so, there has been an intense focus on the social, cultural and linguistic changes ushered in by globalisation, by transnational population flows, by the advent of new communication technologies, by the changes taking place in the political and economic landscape of different regions of the world. These changes have had major implications for the ways in which we conceptualise the relationship between language and society and the multilingual realities of the contemporary era. A new sociolinguistics of multilingualism is now being forged: one that takes account of the new communicative order and the particular cultural conditions of our times, while retaining a central concern with the processes involved in the construction of social difference and social inequality.

17 ESRC research project on ‘EAL and Academic Literacies’ A recent ESRC research project on ‘EAL and Academic Literacies’, by myself and Constant Leung has attempted to apply some of these ideas to the learning and teaching to be found in the last years of school and the first year of University, in selected sites in the London area. I will describe some of the findings and discuss how they might point to future directions in the development of the ‘social turn’ in language and literacy studies.

18 ESRC research project on ‘EAL and Academic Literacies’ : Aims and Methods As the UK school and university student populations become increasingly linguistically and culturally diverse, there is an urgent need for an informed view on how the education system can support students’ academic language and literacy developments. This research focused on the English language and literacy demands experienced by ethnically diverse students at school and university including: UK-based 'non-traditional' students from social/familial backgrounds where participation in university education has not been an established norm; and ethnolinguistic minority students who comprise both UK/EU- based students and (particularly in university) international students from other parts of the world. Many of the latter group are speakers of English as an additional/second language (EAL). The study used ethnographic perspectives to investigate academic language and literacy practices of staff and students in: – two schools in which there was high density of ethnolinguistic minority students and from where a significant number of the final-year sixth formers went on to university, – three university sites with a significant number of ethnolinguistic minority students. – three academic subjects as case studies of the range of academic language and literacy practices that students encounter: in schools - English, Business and Biology ; at university, English and Communication, Life Sciences and Management, The research focussed on: -deployment of the range of language registers and genres conventionally associated with a particular subject or discipline -differences and mismatches between student and tutor expectations regarding academic writing.

19 Levels for Analysis of some classroom data Texts and Practices Interpersonal exchange Lexical Substituion Multiple literacy texts Visual Texts and Layout (Data from Biology lessons at the Advanced Subsidiary level at West Town School in London (pseudonym)

20 Interpersonal exchange The teacher (H) says: H: it’s in your text book if you want to have a look but it is too confusing for some people so maybe you want to leave it. One of the students, N, responds; N:that’s well horrible. Are you calling me dumb now? H:if I was I would tell you to your face but I am not N:but you are implying it aren’t you H:no not at all

21 Lexical Substituion H: what is the posh name for things being moved around? N:it moves from place to place H:yes so moves around dispersal is one that is one of the words they would use in the exams HV:so we are going to use our science words And not our GCSE words so nutrients

22 Multiple literacy texts H: I have tried to write it as clearly as possible [on the Interactive White Board] because if you look at it in the book and the information that is around it is very wordy and hard to understand what is an endosperm? have a quick scan through that paragraph or two The text books on their own, are clearly seen as a problem and the teacher tries to help the students learn how to ‘read’, or ‘scan’ them Students’ own written material, including essays, are used as part of the lesson

23 Visual Texts and Layout T: there’s two pictures down there you have got the one on the left is for mono and the one on the right is for di again there are two seed pictures in your books that you can look at as well explain how the seeds are spread around so this picture this one this one discuss it four bullet points you should be able to explain four bullet points

24 Some Conclusions Dominant Curriculum and Policy texts emphasise content, referential uses of language, ‘function’, writing Observation of Classrooms from perspective of social practices, NLS, ethnography, indicate much more is going on: – Social relations; texts and practices; multimodality; ‘meaning’ Implications for ‘performance’; social inequality; pedagogy; multilingualism?

25 References Dewey, M 2012 ‘Beyond Labels and Categories in ELT’ in Leung, C and Street, B Eds. English a changing medium of education. Multilingual Matters Gardner, S and Martin-Jones, M 2012 Multilingualism, Discourse and Ethnography Routledge, London Halliday, M. A. K. (1973). Explorations in the functions of language. London: Edward Arnold. Halliday, M. A. K. (1975). Learning how to mean: Explorations in the development of language. London: Edward Arnold. Halliday, M. A. K., McIntosh, A., & Strevens, P. (1964). The linguistic sciences and language teaching. London: Longman. Hymes, D. (1972). On communicative competence. In J. B. Pride & J. Holmes (Eds.), Sociolinguistics (pp ). London: Penguin. Hymes, D. (1977). Foundations in sociolinguistics: An ethnographic approach. London: Tavistock Publications. Hymes, D. (1994). Towards ethnographies of communication. In J. Maybin (Ed.), Language and litercy in social practice (pp ). Clevdon: Multilingual Matters, in association with Open University. Leung, C. (2005). Convivial communication: recontextualizing communicative competence. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 15(2), Leung, C. (2010). Language teaching and language assessment. In R. Wodak, B. Johnstone & P. Kerswill (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Sociolinguistics (pp ). London: Sage. Leung, C., Harris, R., & Rampton, B. (1997). The idealised native speaker, reified ethnicities, and classroom realities. TESOL Quarterly, 31(3), Street,B 1984 Literacy in Theory and Practice, CUP: Cambridge Street,B 1993 edCross-Cultural Approaches to Literacy, CUP. Street,B 1995 Social Literacies: Critical perspectives on Literacy in Development, Ethnography and Education, Longman: London Street,B 1997 “The Implications of the New Literacy Studies for Literacy Education”, English in Education, NATE, vol. 31, no. 2 autumn


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