Marion Gehlker Attends AAUSC / CERCLL SUMMER WORKSHOP on June 4-5, 2012

I participated in an intensive 2-day workshop on “Implementing literacy-based instruction in collegiate FL programs”, jointly offered by CERCLL (Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language and Literacy), the Title VI Language Resource Center at the University of Arizona, and the AAUSC (American Association of University Supervisors and Coordinators).

The workshop is an outreach activity related to the PErCOLATE project (http://www.percolate.arizona.edu), “which aims to develop online, open-source modules for teacher professional development in literacy-based FL instruction.” Presenters: Beatrice Dupuy (Univ. of Arizona), Heather Willis Allen (Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison), Kate Paesani (Wayne State Univ.), and Karen Johnson (The Pennsylvania State Univ.)

Escaping the 100+ degrees of dry heat outside, eight participants from Italian, Spanish, German and SLA backgrounds and four presenters met from 8:30-4pm for two very productive days met in a (much too) cool room on the beautiful campus of Arizona State University in Tucson.

I had been intrigued by the concept of multiple literacies for a while, and this was an excellent opportunity to discuss the concept and its application in more depth.  Participants were sent preparatory readings, and on day one of the workshop we discussed how this could be used as an overarching concept to organize both FL instruction and teacher professional development from the first through the third or fourth year. With its emphasis on various forms of text production and analysis as well as the various modalities they appear in (visual, oral, etc.), the concept seems to encompass aspects of CBLI (content-based language instruction), communicative language instruction that goes beyond merely oral language production, (close) textual analysis, and CLAC (cultures and languages across the curriculum), and intercultural competence. The concept fits nicely with my own theme-based curriculum for first through third-year German.

The concept was designed by the New London Group with their 1996 seminal paper entitled “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures” and updated more than ten years later by in Bill Cope’s and Mary Kalantzis’  “‘Multiliteracies’: New Literacies, New Learning”, to expand the notion of literacy to enable learners to engage critically in a world of multiple linguistic and cultural differences. Two of the presenters, Heather Willis Allen and Kate Paesani, applied the concept of a “Pedagogy of Multiliteracies in Introductory Foreign Language Courses” (L2 Journal 2010) demonstrating for example how the discussion of a first-semester topic on food can involve critical analysis by contrasting the role of the café in American and French cultures by showing images of how people sit in cafes, facing each other (the American way) or facing the street (the French way).

One major aspect of the workshop was the training of TAs, an area that was lacking in the 2007 MLA report that suggested overcoming the language-literature divide in departments and courses.

The afternoon of day two was spent developing our own projects using the PErCOLATE modules. I worked on applying some of the multiple literacies concepts to our TA training for advanced classes, which are taught by graduate students, including pre-semester and semester meetings on syllabus design, thematic units, etc.

Overall a workshop I highly recommend.

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