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Mapping New Classrooms in Literacy-Oriented Foreign Language Teaching and Learning: The Role of the Reading Experience

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Transforming Postsecondary Foreign Language Teaching in the United States

Part of the book series: Educational Linguistics ((EDUL,volume 21))

Abstract

While multiliteracy frameworks grounded in social semiotics and genre theory have provided language teachers and users with valuable theoretical maps for understanding the linguistic design of texts, the social and affective experience of foreign language reading has received less attention in fields of foreign and second language pedagogy. Especially in the social, institutional context of the classroom, literacy involves an awareness of periodically precarious symbolic terrains. Readers situate themselves and their textual responses vis-à-vis authors, narrators, or characters, and their own predispositions to a text’s subject matter. This chapter draws on examples from in and outside of the classroom in order to raise some of the issues related to experientiality and reading that theories of literacy and language teaching might address.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This is similar to Alfred Schütz’ distinction between the sociologist and the “stranger.” While the former is necessarily a disinterested, scientific onlooker, the latter encounters new cultural models in a “network of plans, means-and-ends relations, motives and chances, hopes and fears” (1944, p. 500).

  2. 2.

    I am grateful to Malena Samaniego for pointing me towards this metaphor.

  3. 3.

    See especially Widdowson (1994) and Ben Rampton (1995).

  4. 4.

    Kern’s “reading as design” (2000) and Kramsch and Nolden’s (1994) notion of reading as oppositional practice are notable exceptions to this.

  5. 5.

    An excellent introduction to the scholarly study of these kinds of effects is Peter Stockwell’s book Texture (2012).

  6. 6.

    In spite of this acknowledged problem, literary texts have maintained their somewhat privileged position within literacy-oriented approaches to language teaching. This is almost certainly in part due to the particular institutional trajectory of foreign language departments in North American collegiate contexts, which have evolved out of philological traditions and only in their most recent history have devoted attention to language acquisition and teaching as free-standing fields of academic inquiry. Nevertheless, a number of convincing reasons have been cited in the scholarship for why literary texts continue to be so prominently features in foreign language curricula. Of relevance to multiliteracies approaches are the assertions literary texts often foreground uses of language through what Halliday described as linguistic highlighting, “whereby some features of the language of a text stand out in some way” (1973, p. 113; see also Widdowson 1994), and further that literary texts are themselves examples of language as culture, in that they participate in, ventriloquize, support, and question culture discourses (see Carroli 2008; Kern and Schulz 2005; Kramsch and Byram 2008).

  7. 7.

    Exceptions may be so-called Trivialliteratur and those works that are deliberately democratized, cosmopolitan, and intercultural (for example, the writings of Yoko Tawada). Pierre Bourdieu has written on this phenomenon in his essay “The Field of Cultural Production” (1993). Bourdieu is primarily concerned with what he describes as the “interest in [economic] disinterestedness” (40) of the cultural field, wherein the exclusionary effects of a work contribute to its symbolic power as art; however, his discussion of the production of value and the evaluation of various positions holds potential implications for the situation of L2 readers.

  8. 8.

    For an extended discussion of the potential effects of deictic shifting in Verena Stefan’s novel, see my 2009 article from Language and Literature (Warner 2009).

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Acknowledgements

I want to thank Per Urlaub for all of his work in organizing the symposium, for which I originally wrote this paper, and Janet Swaffar, Katherine Arens and Per Urlaub for their editorial comments on an earlier draft of the piece. I also want to express my gratitude to David Gramling, Malena Samaniego, and M’Balia Thomas for the many stimulating conversations that lay the fecund ground for my thoughts on experientiality and multiliteracies.

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Correspondence to Chantelle Warner .

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Appendix A

Appendix A

1.1 Narrative Writing Assignment

In Ihrem zweiten Aufsatz sollen Sie eine Erzählung schreiben, also eine persönliche Geschichte, die ein Ereignis oder eine für Sie wichtige Begebenheit in der Vergangenheit erzählt. Sprache und Wirkung:

Erzählungen sollen dem Leser einen Einblick in das Leben des Protagonisten gewähren, d.h. die Sprache sollte anschaulich und lebendig sein. Wenn Sie sich also ein Ereignis aus Ihrer Vergangenheit auswählen, konzentrieren Sie sich darauf zu erzählen, warum dieses Ereignis für Sie wichtig ist und warum die Leser das erfahren sollten: die Umstände sind wichtiger als die Fakten.

Aufbau:

Eine gute Erzählung baut eine Spannung auf.

  1. 1.

    Zuerst wird die Situation eingeführt und der Konflikt oder das Ereignis vorgestellt.

  2. 2.

    Die Erzählung läuft auf einen Höhepunkt zu.

  3. 3.

    Die Handlung kommt zu einem Abschluss/zu einer Lösung.

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Warner, C. (2014). Mapping New Classrooms in Literacy-Oriented Foreign Language Teaching and Learning: The Role of the Reading Experience. In: Swaffar, J., Urlaub, P. (eds) Transforming Postsecondary Foreign Language Teaching in the United States. Educational Linguistics, vol 21. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9159-5_8

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