My Literacies

Approaches to literacies in multimodal and multilingual contexts - The view of the child

This project investigated the diversity of literacy practices in a multimedia and multilingual society from the child’s perspective.

In a modern information society, the written word is present not only in books, newspapers and magazines, but also in posters, labels, stickers, traffic signs etc. In everyday life, literacy – the use of writing and written language – forms part of our social practices. It is also closely connected with the use of new technologies such as the Internet, mobile communications, video games etc. (multimedia). Furthermore, the written word is increasingly associated with other perceptual modes such as colour, picture, sound or motion (multimodality). The diversity of literacy practices in our society is further broadened by the ability of people, who have grown up with different language backgrounds (multilingualism), different writing systems and the diversity of ways that writing is combined with other modes and is incorporated in different media (multiliteracies).

This research program was interested in literacy practices in a multimedia and multilingual society. The aim of the project was to explore literacy as part of the diversity of social practices from the perspective of the child as multilingual, multiliterate and multicompetent “literacy user”.
A further aim of the project was to build on the repertoire of methods in reading research and sociolinguistics using methods such as Linguistic Landscape and Social Semiotics, videography, picture analysis and discourse analysis, which have so far scarcely been used in reading research.

As part of this project, students from the third and fourth grade in three Viennese primary schools were encouraged to record the extracurricular use of everyday literacy practices in their families and communities in photos, text, pictures and films. Materials collected by the children and their commentary, description and interpretation were analysed by linguists and also served as reading resources in teaching projects. Methods and materials, in particular the medium of image, promoted innovative approaches to writing, language and media use by children, their families and communities. By providing evidence for literacy practices in extracurricular contexts of everyday life under the conditions of social diversity, the project contributed to research in the field of family literacy and reading socialisation.

Through their participation in this project and dealing with language, writing and image media, the students developed their ability to reflect and interpret text in different contexts, modes and media. By using various media, modes and language(s), they also experienced an appreciation for their language(s) and the resources of their family as part of their unique multiliterate identity – “My Literacies”.

This project had a Top Citizen Science-extension project.

The project “Views in*2 literacies” collected digital stories about personal experiences regarding learning processes of reading, writing and learning new languages. A major objective of this research was to create new directions for language teaching and learning.

This project has been completed.