Language & Literacy Education Seminar Series 2014


Exploring college EFL teachers' research activities from a sociocultural perspective: A longitudinal case study

Presenter: Chunguo Meng

Chunguo Meng is a PhD candidate in applied linguistics at Nanjing Normal University, and an associate professor at Jinling Institute of Technology, PR China.

Abstract: Drawing on sociocultural theory, the study aims to understand and examine a teacher study group's research activities by building communities of learning practices over a year. Six Chinese college EFL teachers and the researcher had 12 monthly meetings to share and discuss each other's research. Data included in-depth interviews, concept maps, collective activities, research journals, classroom observations, real-time networking communications, and documents. Results and analysis focused on the contradictions within the activity system of the teacher study group, and contributions of research engagement to teacher professional development. The findings indicated that contradictions offered potential growth points for teacher development and group mediation worked as a catalyst in the emergent communities of teacher learning. The bottom-up solution for college EFL teachers' informal learning that the study sought, contributes to research and practice on language teacher learning and teacher education programs in China as well as international contexts.

Education and Peacebuilding. Is there a relationship?

Presenter: Joseph Lo Bianco

Joseph Lo Bianco is a professor of language and literacy (MGSE), and research director of the UNICEF language and peace-building project in Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand.

Abstract: This talk is based on research and intervention activity under the UNICEF Language and Social Cohesion project in Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand involving a series of facilitated dialogues, observations, literature analysis, policy workshops and language planning exercises in these settings, based on sociological critique of the failure of peace keeping operations of the UN to actually keep the peace. Many situations of conflict in the world are characterised by chronic instability in which conflict is ever present, sometimes dormant for short or long periods. The aims of the research are to theorise how, specifically, language, ethnicity, religious and citizenship identities in plural societies are linked to peace and conflict and how education practices (curriculum, teaching, student segregation and success/failure rates). The talk will focus on the role of facilitated dialogues conducted to foster collaborative discussion about language education policy choices, especially language of instruction, as well as literacy, both symbolic questions of script choice, and practical questions of literacy attainment. The talk will describe these processes as collective language planning, and drawn examples from dialogues run in 2013 in Myanmar and 2014 in all three countries.

Examining the multi-scalar policy contexts of Literacy Education in Australia: English literacy in and out of school

Presenters: Lesley Farrell and Larissa McLean-Davies

Lesley Farrell is a professor of education (MGSE). Her research focuses on language and social change, especially in relation to global work-forces.
Larissa McLean-Davies is a senior lecturer in language and literacy and Deputy Director of Learning and Teaching (MGSE).

Abstract: In this presentation we follow Ball (2006), Ozga (2000) and others in thinking about literacy education policy as a 'policy ensemble' that includes identified policy texts which express intent in relation to languages and literacy education. We focus on the Australian Curriculum: English and the National Foundational Skills Strategy for Adults.

Australia's engagement with Asia: Exploring new approaches to the Australian Curriculum

Presenters: Pam Macintyre and Catherine Reid

Pam Macintyre and Catherine Reid are lecturers in language and literacy (MGSE).

Abstract: The Masters subject 'Textual resources across the curriculum' is framed around the three cross-curriculum priorities of the Australian National Curriculum (ACARA, 2013): Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures; Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia; and Sustainability. As the AC states that the priorities 'are not treated as separate areas of learning', participants were to design learning and teaching strategies that integrated the priorities into their existing subject curriculum, which included English, Literacy, the Humanities, Mathematics, the Sciences, and the Visual Arts.

As a result of attendance at an exhibition, 'Dust', comprised of paintings, photographs and video installations by the Indian artist, Gigi Scaria, the students chose one or more of the artworks as a basis for designing an excursion and assessment task in their respective subject areas. As well as fostering curriculum design, the task encouraged the students to 'journey away from the… comfort zone[s]' of their own subject disciplines (Kalantzis & Cope, 2008: 232), and to incorporate multiliterate practices into their teaching (New London Group, 1996). This session will analyse work produced as a result of attendance at 'Dust'.

What choices of focalisation can students use to design affiliative relationships in their 3-D animation narratives?

Presenter: Annemaree O'Brien

Annemaree O'Brien is a lecturer in literacy education (MGSE) and has an extensive background in literacy and media education.

Abstract: This paper reports on an aspect of research looking at how students in the middle years use focalisation to design meaning in their animation narratives. Focalisation (Bal, 1996; Genette, 1980) enables the author to manipulate the perspective through which subjects and events are shown in a text. Authors can use focalisation to design affiliative relationships between the text participants – between the external viewer/reader and the represented characters within the text, and between the characters. Halliday's (1978; Halliday & Hasan, 1985) Systemic Functional approach is used to closely examine the use of focalisation to design affiliative relationships using moving image semiotic resources. A system network is used to map these semiotic choices into a set of systems showing the options users can choose from. Examples of how student authors used knowledge of focalisation choices in their 3-D animation narratives are discussed.