Multi-literacy is “the ability to identify, interpret, create, and communicate meaning across a variety of visual, oral, corporal, musical and alphabetical forms of communication” (IGI Global, 2017, para. 2). It presupposes that language is aligned with different contexts that are extremely important for communication. Thus, students are to be taught not only literacy skills but also the identification of alterations in the patterns of meaning depending on the context.
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In this way, attention should be paid to culture, society, and subject domain. It is believed that meaning is created under the influence of cross-cultural exchange and due to the interference of written-linguistic modes with other patterns of meaning, such as visual and tactile, etc. (Multiliteracies). In this way, four types of multi-literate practice associated with semiotic systems can be discussed.
Linguistic multi-literate practices are the most traditional ones. They are usually associated with communication by the representatives of the general public as they deal with the production of meaning. Writing is the most typical practice in this framework. Words, word combinations, and sentences, etc. are created to share information between different parties. However, students should develop a range of skills to be able to cope with this activity. For example, to communicate via SMS, they need to have good writing skills: know the alphabet, use capital letters properly, know spelling rules and ways to shorten the words, etc. Technology skills are also required (Andrei, 2014). They are needed to use a phone properly and be able to write and send messages.
Today students often face various signs, and they should be able to understand their meaning. Visual literacy skills are critical in this way because it ensures that the main message is not misinterpreted (Blake, 2016). Students should be able to represent their knowledge through images. For instance, they are to be aware of the main meaning of lines, colors, and vectors. They should easily interpret the message sent by the use of red color and crossed lines, which is prohibition, or a skull with bones that mean danger. In a similar way, students can work with graphics. They need to realize that colors and numbers can represent different subjects and that their form or position can reveal their prevalence or amount.
Students need to be able to understand and properly use various gestures. Gestural literacy skills are vital for communication because they ensure that a person realizes not only what is said but also what is meant by person’s behavior. For example, understanding the meanings of the frequently used gestures, students can get to know what is expected of them or how others treat them. People’s facial expressions, body positions, and postures can reveal their emotions and the major message of the communication. In this way, seeing a person showing his/her palm and having a serious or even angry facial expression, students should realize that they are to stop doing something.
Face-to-face communication makes people coexist in the same environment. The way they organize themselves in it reveals their relationships. Students need to know where they are supposed to stay in order not to be misinterpreted. Spatial literacy skills are vital for this purpose, as they ensure that one can identify how to make others feel comfortable (“Victorian department of education series,” n.d.). In this way, it is critical for them to be able to differentiate how they should be organized in space while interacting with a best friend and with a teacher, for example. As a result, they will also have an opportunity to understand what relationships other people are.
Multi-literacy presupposes the development of aural skills as well. Students should be able to differentiate various sound and determine their meaning. Messages sent by silence should also be considered. In the sphere of education, the main attention should be paid to a bell ring. Students should realize that its presence means that a lesson starts or end while its absence presupposes that a class is held or that it is a period.
IGI Global. (2017). What is multiliteracy. Web.
Blake, C. (2016). Defining multiple literacies: The expression of learning in many formats. Web.
Victorian department of education series. (n.d.). Web.
Andrei, E. (2014). Multiliteracy in three english as a second language (ESL) middle school classrooms. TAPESTRY, 6(1), 19-34.