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Multilingual students, academic texts, and the semiotic demands of recontextualizing knowledge

Date: 1 February 2012 Time: 4:00-5:30 pm

Venue: Bowland North SR22

The Second Language Learning and Teaching (SLLAT) research group are pleased to host the following presentation:

Multilingual students, academic texts, and the semiotic demands of recontextualizing knowledge

Dr. Diane Potts

Drawing on the analytical resources of systemic functional linguistics (SFL), this paper examines EAL students' multimodal texts to consider how recontextualization of students' quotidian knowledge, particularly their multilingual capabilities, supports language development (Bernstein, 1990, 1996; Halliday, 2004; Halliday & Matthiessen, 1999; Kress & van Leeuwen, 1996/2006). While research in language and literacy education frequently argues for inclusion of multiethnic students' out-of-school literacies practices (see Bearne, 2003; Cazden, 2000; Cummins, 2006; Stein & Newfield, 2006), analysis of paper and digital texts from a Canadian SSRHC-funded study suggests such practices produce far more complex transformations of meaning than captured in these discussions. A Grade 7 Cantonese speaker's Language Arts text, including the English and Cantonese interactions around the text, her embedding of the non-digital in the digital, and her personal reflections, are used to illustrate the semiotic demands of multilingual text production. Rather than contesting the need for culturally relevant texts, the students' work suggests how recontextualization may further students' metalinguistic capabilities, sensitizing learners to how language is used to produce and reproduce knowledge across contexts. The presentation also highlights the contribution of more fine-grained textual analyses to studies of language development and language pedagogies, analyses oriented to the semiotic rather than cultural mediation performed in texts' production (Fairclough, 2000; Hasan, 2002), and the relevance of register to descriptions of students' linguistic achievements.

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Organising departments and research centres: Linguistics and English Language

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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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