Globalization and digitization have reshaped the communication landscape, affecting how and with whom we communicate, and deeply altering the terrain of language and literacy education. As children in urban contexts become socialized into communities of increasing cultural and communicational connectivity, complexity, and convergence (Jenkins, 2004), and funding for specialist second language (L2) support declines, classrooms have become linguistically heterogeneous spaces where every teacher is a teacher of L2 learners.
This article has two purposes: The first is to give an overview of the concept of multimodal literacies, which utilize diverse media to represent visual, audio, gestural, spatial, and tactile dimensions of communication in addition to traditional written and oral forms (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009a). Since the New London Group's manifesto on multiliteracies in 1996, which merged language and literacy education agendas in L2 teaching, language arts, media literacy, and cultural studies, new basics have developed that apply to all classrooms and all learners. Second, this article reviews and reports on innovative pedagogical approaches to multimodal literacies involving L2 learners. These are grounded theoretically (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009a, 2009b; Kress, 2003, 2010; New London Group, 1996) and epistemologically (de Castell & Jenson, 2003; Gee, 2009, 2010; Kellner, 2004; Lankshear & Knobel, 2003, 2006).
(Online publication September 02 2011)
Heather Lotherington is a professor of multilingual education at York University where she teaches in the Faculty of Education, and in the Graduate Program in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics. Her research focuses on multimodal literacies, multilingual inclusion and pedagogical innovation. Since she spearheaded a collaborative research venture between York University and Joyce Public School in Toronto in 2003, researchers and teachers have been continuously engaged in co-designing multimodal literacies projects (see www.multiliteracies4kidz.ca). Their award winning research has been widely published. Professor Lotherington's most recent book is Pedagogy of multiliteracies: Rewriting Goldilocks (Routledge, 2011).
Jennifer Jenson is an is associate professor of pedagogy and technology in the Faculty of Education at York University, Canada. She has published on games and learning, educational technology policies and practices, and gender and technology.