Empowering English Language Learners:  The Importance of Developing Critical Literacy Skills

Abstract

For some time, listeners and readers have been regarded as active participants in the complex and interactional nature of negotiating meaning (Savignon, 2001). However, many of those who are learning English do not have equal access to the skills of understanding the social practices in which reading and writing are embedded (Clark, 1995). For English language learners to critically engage with textual and cultural practices, they must have access to, and be able to critique, both cultural and linguistic resources (Hammond & Mackin-Horarick, 1999). One way to achieve this effectively in English language teaching is to consider the teaching of context and interpersonal meaning alongside the meaning of the words themselves. This paper will respond to the challenge of teaching critical literacy skills to English language learners and attempt to contribute to its development in the classroom. It will present some of the underlying theory and provide practical examples taken from a study in progress to demonstrate how contextual features can affect the meaning of the language used in texts. In addition, it will explore how linguistic choices made by writers can be used as powerful strategies to shape readers' perceptions. The study focuses on newspaper texts from the US, the UK and Australia written in 2008 on the Global Financial Crisis. The presentation will conclude with suggestions of how this analysis of discourse could be modified for use as a pedagogical tool to teach critical literacy in the English language learning classroom.



Author Information
Jennifer Cope, The University of Sydney, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: ACLL2013
Stream: Language Learning

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