Is there a paradigm shift happening in the world of TEFL and language teaching? in this podcast, Emma Pratt talks to Anna Whitcher and Kieran Donaghy, the dynamic partnership behind the Visual Arts Circle, a community of practice formed for language teachers interested in multimodal literacy, visual literacy and the visual arts. The Visual Arts Circle’s sixth annual Image Conference kicks off in October 2017 in Lisbon.
Is there a paradigm shift happening in the world of TEFL and language teaching? In this podcast, Emma Pratt talks to Anna Whitcher and Kieran Donaghy about Multimodal Literacy. Kieran and Anna are the dynamic partnership behind the Visual Arts Circle, a community of practice formed for language teachers to explore the visual arts and visual world in their practice as teachers.
What is Multimodal Literacy?
Multimodal literacy refers to our ability to interpret and effectively use more than just oral and written language. We’re talking about the visual world. By this we mean signs. representations, symbols and visual references, that, when mixed with the aural world, time, media and context, create whole other languages.
Why should we care?
We work with language and communication. That’s why. We ask the question, what does multimodal literacy mean to us in the language classroom presently and what they could mean? The circle’s key interest and objective is in exploring, researching, reflecting and finally providing approaches, techniques and materials that help other language teachers engage with the visual world meaningfully and with confidence in their classroom.
To inaugurate the website of the Visual Arts Circle we have invited Dr. Sylvia Karastathi of New York College, Athens, Greece who has a PhD and post-doctoral studies from the University of Cambridge, to write about the increasing important role of visual literacy in English language teaching.
Few language teachers can claim that they never use still or moving images in their lessons; yet, this standard practice is rarely touched upon in teacher training curricula on the assumption the way to introduce images into lessons is self-evident. This short article starts by introducing some key ELT resources on using images in the classroom; it then goes on to argue that we need to approach images not simply as an aid but as a key component of “multimodal communicative competence”.
The Status of the Image
In his 1966 ground-breaking study The Visual Element in Language Teaching Pit Corder made the useful distinction between “talking about images” and “talking with images”, differentiating between physical description and personal response. Since then, practical books such as Andrew Wright’s Pictures for Language Learning (1990), Jamie Keddie’s Images (2009), Ben Goldstein’s Working with Images (2009) and Peter Grundy’s et. al. English Through Art (2011) have suggested a wide variety of engaging activities that exploit the power of still images in the classroom and demonstrate their potentials to facilitate language learning. More recently, principled uses of the moving image in the classroom have become the focus of discussion in ELT with publications such as Ben Goldstein and Paul Diver’s Language Learning with Digital Video (2014) and Kieran Donaghy’s Film in Action (2015).