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Multiliteracies in English as an Additional Language Classrooms: Methods, Approaches, and Lessons

reviewed by Cecilia M. Espinosa - February 21, 2022

coverTitle: Multiliteracies in English as an Additional Language Classrooms: Methods, Approaches, and Lessons
Author(s): Luciana C. de Oliveira, Ana Maria Menda, and Cristiane Vicentini
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1648024246, Pages: 312, Year: 2021
Search for book at Amazon.com

The twenty-first century demands no longer warrant educators to teach English in isolation and removed from students lived experiences. To teach English as a new language in these times demands that educators approach their teaching from a language-based approach to content instruction, where language and content are carefully interweaved. This is pedagogy and curriculum that recognize that students bring a wealth of experiences and an abundance of cultural and linguistic resources that need to be integrated into their learning. In these settings, all students are invited to participate in learning events that require higher-order thinking, because teachers have acquired the pedagogical knowledge to masterfully plan for scaffolded interactions that lead students to deeper learning. Additionally, these teachers understand that learning is social, and students learn to dialogue and problem-solve with others by participating in collaborative communities. The book Multiliteracies in English as an Additional Language Classrooms: Methods, Approaches, and Lessons, edited by Luciana C. de Oliveira, Ana Maria Menda, and Cristiane Vicentini, presents ideas that break new ground for educators in the area of English as an additional language. The work described in this book is grounded on a professional development project developed by teacher educators from the University of Miami in which 30 teachers from Brazil who teach English as a new language participated. The book brings together the voices of academics and practicing teachers.

This book draws on current research into professional development for educators, offering continuity of vision and practical applications. This professional development project for teachers who teach English as a new language invited participating teachers to become designers of curricula that reflected the realities of a diverse world in the twenty-first century. The book is divided into two sections. The first section encompasses methods and approaches, and contains eight chapters. Each chapter describes a particular approach and provides classroom applications. The second section encompasses unit plans and lessons for English as an additional language classroom. It contains 13 chapters, offering practical applications for teachers who teach English as an additional language. By putting together this collection of chapters, the editors offer readers methods, approaches, and practical ways to disrupt and reimagine the education of students who are learning English as a new language. Chapter 1, titled Principles and Practices of the University of Miami Six-Week English Language Certificate Program for High School English Teachers from Brazil and written by Oliveira, Menda, and Vicentini, describes the principles and practices of the educators of the Program de Desenvolvimiento Profissional para Professores de Lingua Inglesa nos EUA, including the programs objectives, organizing elements, and components, as well as a brief description of key concepts with regards to the Brazilian Educational System. The authors describe the ways in which this opportunity brought forward a project that offers a practical, innovative, and theoretical grounded approach to educating teachers who teach English as a new language.

Each chapter in Section 1 provides theoretical as well as practical applications for the classroom. Chapter 2, Multiliteracies for English as an Additional Language Teaching and Learning, by Oliveira, Jones, and Smith, describes how taking a multiliteracy pedagogy reconceptualizes how teachers can create innovative learning experiences for students of English as a New Language to more fully construct meaning. They argue that through these experiences, learners are invited to bring all their semiotic resources as they articulate, represent, and interpret texts.

Chapter 3, titled Modified Guided Reading for English as a Foreign Language Contexts written by Avalos, challenges teachers to engage students in dialogic talk around a shared text the class has read together. Following the principles of guided and shared reading, the teacher models effective and efficient reading for students who are learning English as a new language. Throughout the reading, the teacher poses open-ended questions, and students are invited to capitalize on their entire linguistic repertoire as they respond to and more fully participate in the literacy event.

Chapter 4, Its All About Relationships: (Re) Imagining Classroom Dynamics to Foster Student Engagement by Chapman, Mullen, Kaplan, and Freeman, invites the readers to reimagine the classroom space in ways that humanize it and offer a CAREConnectionship, Access, Responsibility, Environment (physical and mental)framework for doing so. A clear contribution of this chapter is helping the reader envision what authentic engagement can look like in ways that are practical, tangible, and socio-culturally relevant.

Chapter 5, Visual Thinking Strategies for Emergent Bilinguals, was written by Menda and Kibler. These authors utilize the visual thinking strategies first developed by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, describing them as powerful tools to make the curriculum more accessible regardless of the content area. Its reliance on visual texts facilitates its flexibility and collaborative possibilities. The role of the adult in this experience is to facilitate the discussion without judgment and always be respectful of students' perspectives and voices.  

Chapter 6, Integrating Multimodal Composition Technology in Interdisciplinary Learning by Shen, Smith, and Jiang, offers readers ways to incorporate multimodal composition technology as they engage in interdisciplinary studies. Students are invited to become knowledgeable of these technology tools while they learn about the possibilities they offer and engage in creating their own materials. By framing the role of the adult as one who facilitates a situated learning experience, the authors remind us that the goal is to obtain knowledge, develop skills, and expand perspectives while participating within a community of learners,

Chapter 7, Linguistic and Grammatical Knowledge Development Through Text by Sembiante and Cavallaro, challenges readers to reimagine the teaching of grammar at school, which traditionally has had a focus on correctness. The authors invite us to revisit Hallidays (1978) ideas of systemic functional linguistics and remind us that in life, a crucial component of the type of grammar we use depends on the audience (who is the message directed to); in other words, to learn to carefully consider the roles of speaker and  listener, as well as the context. It matters that all students learn how writers and speakers craft language depending on the context, the purpose of the exchange, and, in the case of writing, the genre in which the student is composing the text. At the core of learning grammar, they argue, is the construction of meaning depending on the particular context. Grammar, they assert, is a tool that is dynamic and needs to be taught in contextualized ways. Learning, they argue, must prepare students for the real world.

Chapter 8, titled Innovative Approaches to Technology Integration in English Language Teaching was written by Smith and Jones. This chapter invites readers to consider ways to utilize technology tools within classrooms where students are learning English as an additional language within the principles of best practice. The authors remind the reader that the teacher still needs to keep in mind the principles of effective practice by centering learning on students, knowing your students, creating an environment that is conducive to language learning, designing high-quality lessons, lesson adaptations to meet the needs of students who are learning English as a new language, and formative and summative assessments.

Section 2, titled Lessons for English as an Additional Language Classrooms, offers 13 chapters that focus on unit plans that constitute practical applications based on the theoretical understandings and principles of learning discussed in Section 1. The titles of each unity (chapter) are varied, relevant to the current times and the lived experiences of students learning English as a new language. These units are wonderful examples that showcase what it means to educate students who are learning English as a new language in the twenty-first century. Chapter 9 focuses on Deconstructing Stereotypes in the Classroom. Written by dos Santos Silva, Amorim, Rocha, and Vicentini, this chapter begins with the learners identity and challenges the learner to examine stereotypes and problematize how these are constructed. Chapter 10, Family at the Zoo, invites learners to deeper understandings of endangered animals, with a focus on storytelling, as they consider ways to care for and protect the natural environment. Chapter 11, Dance that Connects, was written by da Silva, do Nascimento Jr., Ferreira Clemente, and Vicentini, who invite students to develop an interdisciplinary unit through the use of dance and special attention to inclusive practices toward students with dis-abilities. Chapter 12, Building Healthy Eating Habits: A Food Experience by Pereira Santos, Cortes da Silva, Souza Vasconcelos, and Vicentini, invites students to examine actual school menus from a multicultural perspective as they develop their own critical understandings of what it means to eat a healthy meal at school and what are healthy meals outside of school. Teachers integrate learning through the use of video games.

Chapter 13, titled Developing Empathy in Elementary Students Through Visual Thinking Strategies and Using Modal Verbs to Build Rules of Conduct in the Classroom, was written by de Lavor Nunes with Cristiane Vicentini. It focuses on examining critically the important topic of cyberbullying through the use of visual thinking strategies, the exploration of grammar in context, the deconstruction of texts from social media texts, and the elaboration of their own rules of conduct within these settings. Chapter 14, titled Six Cs of a Family, examines the topic of family within diverse configurations. Students engage in this topic while studying possessive adjectives and the genitive case within relevant contexts. Throughout this unit, teachers aim to both affirm and expand students understanding of family. Chapter 15, titled Visual Thinking Strategies Integrated in a Lesson Plan, was written by Neri, de Oliveira Nogueira, Alameida dos Reis, and Vicentini. It utilizes, along with a few other chapters, a translanguaging stance to invite students to capitalize on their entire linguistic repertoire as they engage in a multimodal lesson about food and drink. At the end of the unit, students present their work to each other through a visual gallery. Chapter 16, Whats Up: Reflections on the Use of Social Media in the English as a Foreign Language Classroomm by Ribeiro Lacerda, dos Santos, de Kassia Gomes Novaes de Lima, and Vicentini, illustrates the power of the use of technology tools to blur the walls between the school and the outside world. Teachers prepare students for life by offering them opportunities to engage in dialogue and guiding them in becoming critical consumers and creators of social media and other forms of technology. This unit integrates all modes of language, including visual. Chapter 17, titled A Critical Literacy Unit, was composed by Fernandes Loures, Moreira da Silveira, da Silva, and Vicentini. It examines critically standards for beauty as students engage in collaborative discussions. Teachers invite students to reflect on issues of stereotypes, prejudice, ideals of beauty imposed by society, self-esteem, etc. All modes of language and the integration of technology are utilized in this lesson.

Chapter 18, titled Connecting the Dots to Language and Identity: Relating the Self to the Target Language in an English as a Foreign Language Setting, was created by Silva Lobo with Vicentini. This chapter centers its learning objective on helping students position themselves as citizens of a multilingual world. It begins with the students examination of their own identities in order to understand those of others. Teachers use literature to complement and expand the students experiences. Chapter 19, Cultivating a Multimodal Construction with a Mentor Text: Rosa Parks by da Silva Queiroz with Vicentini, illustrates the use of a historical biography to help students further reflect and understand their role as citizens who advocate for creative solutions to local and global problems. Chapter 20, Deconstructing Stereotypes by Marques da Silva, Ramos Alcantara, and Vicentini, focuses on examining and deconstructing cultural stereotypes while engaging in critical thinking. Chapter 21, titled From Muralism to Street Art, was written by Oliveira da Silva, Silveira Silva, and Vicentini. It invites teachers to create a learning environment where students utilize systemic functional grammar as a critical tool for the construction of meaning in a new language. Students study in multimodal ways muralism and street art as they dialogue with each other about art and artists who have engaged in this work.

As I read this book, I kept contrasting the innovative experiences these authors present with regards to learning English as a new language with my own experiences learning English as a foreign language in Ecuador, where I grew up. Our English as a foreign language lesson consisted of drills of grammar, where all we did was conjugate verbs in each tense, memorized regular and irregular verbs, studied our spelling errors by copying the word in its correct spelling 20 times, practiced decontextualized dialogues, etc. My socio-cultural experiences were never invited into the classroom. English, the new language I was learning, was seen as something that existed outside of students lived experiences. In contrast, Multiliteracies in English as an Additional Language Classrooms offers educators a fresh perspective from which to teach English as an additional language in Brazil and throughout the world, with attention to local and global issues. They remind us that teachers need to know students and the communities they come from. They showcase how, when we decenter learning from the teacher and center it on the students, the opportunities for learning multiply. The authors of the chapters illustrate clearly the ways in which language and content are inseparable. In several chapters, they argue that translanguaging is a powerful tool to ensure all students can more fully participate in the learning event. I add that translanguaging is not just a tool for students who are beginning to learn a new language, but a stance that normalizes bilingualism and invites students to draw on their language and other resources in dynamic and purposeful ways as they expand and sustain their bilingualism. Clearly, students who are more fluent in the new language can still benefit tremendously from translanguaging experiences, such as reading about a topic in their new language and in their home language (i.e., a bullying and cyberbullying news article in the local news). After reading, the teacher invites the students to form groups and purposefully create posters for the entire school in the new language and home language so everyone can have access to these messages. Certainly there are many possibilities for future research in the area of teaching English as a new language in the twenty-first century.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: February 21, 2022
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23991, Date Accessed: 2/26/2022 6:29:59 PM

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About the Author
  • Cecilia M. Espinosa
    Lehman College
    E-mail Author
    CECILIA M. ESPINOSA, Ph.D. is an associate professor of early childhood and childhood at Lehman College. Dr. Espinosa is the co-author of the book, Rooted in Strength: Using Translanguaging to Grow Multilingual Readers and Writers (Scholastic, 2021). Dr. Espinosa has published in journals and books in Spanish and English in the United States and outside the USA. Dr. Espinosa's research interests are children's writing, descriptive inquiry, and children's literature that affirms and nurtures children's multiple identities. Dr. Espinosa teaches courses on biliteracy, English as a new language, observation, and assessment, among others. Dr. Espinosa was an associate investigator of the CUNY NYSIEB Project, a project that focused on the education of emergent bilinguals. She is currently an associate investigator of CUNY IIE, a project about the intersection between education and immigration.
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