Originally, members of the Basic Skills project at Kanda University of International Studies were given the task of developing a new curriculum for the Basic Reading course. Recent developments, however, have complicated this task. The new course being designed has been renamed ‘Foundational Literacies’ to better reflect the move away from traditional thinking about teaching literacy and cognitive skills, and instead focus on what is called a 'Multiliteracies' pedagogical approach. A Multiliteracies pedagogy suggests a new way of looking at the idea of 'literacies' that is more compatible with the modern world, a move away from the traditional one-dimensional view of literacy. It means providing access to what learners really need in order for them both to empower themselves and to become functional, effective and successful members of what is now often labelled a 'post-Fordist' world of 'fast capitalism’. In such a society, a much larger range of skills and the capacity to interact in many different ways with many different people are essential. Older, simpler models of teaching literacy are no longer relevant. The paper will describe the process we have used so far to begin designing a completely new course, intended for an advanced stream of learners, and a justification for some of the decisions we have made in this process. The project is as yet unfinished, and is undergoing constant re-evaluation, but reading about our process and decision-making may prove useful for other teachers and course designers who currently find themselves in similar situations, or for those who are curious about what a Multiliteracies-focused curriculum may look like.
James Owens, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan
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