Textbook Literacies - Investigating the Potential of Commercial Textbooks for Literacies-Oriented Instruction and the Professional Development of Graduate Students
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 06/19/2020
AbstractIn recent years, there have been urgent calls to reform foreign language (FL) curricula in efforts to unite objectives, content, and methods of all levels of FL instruction and do away with program bifurcation and dichotomous thinking (Swaffar & Arens 2005, MLA Ad Hoc Committee 2007, Crane et al. 2011). Literacy and literacy-oriented approaches have been suggested as frameworks to curricular design and teaching practice that could overcome this bifurcation. Literacy, traditionally understood as the ability to read and write, becomes plural in these approaches and is understood as a wide-array of community-based social practices (Knobel & Lankshear 2007). Literacy-oriented teaching (Kern 2000, Allen, Paesani, & Dupuy 2016), combining communication, analysis, interpretation, and reflection, promotes more nuanced attention to written language, as well as more critical awareness of language use. So far only a few FL programs have redesigned their curricula guided by literacy-oriented principles, and especially integrating literacies into introductory levels has been identified as challenging. Allen and Paesani (2010) consider several obstacles to the implementation of literacy-oriented pedagogy in lower-level courses relating to common teaching methods at these levels, content and material that is often driven by commercial textbooks, and graduate students’ professional development. The studies in this dissertation investigate these obstacles framing them with textbook content and use. A comprehensive literature review revisits communicative and literacies-oriented approaches to FL teaching to provide an account of how they are both similar and different. I then discuss the potential of textbooks for literacy-oriented pedagogy from three angles. In an analysis of three common introductory German textbooks for the college level, I examined frequency and range of texts, and evaluated which language teaching approach the activities accompanying the texts supported, in order to assess in how far they can lay the groundwork for literacy-based instruction. Based on this analysis, I designed an autoethnographic classroom-based research study investigating what the use of textbooks within literacies pedagogy could look like. This chapter describes several pedagogical interventions that made active use of textbook material, but reframed it drawing on the concepts of “design pedagogy”, Kalantzis and Cope’s knowledge processes, and recent work on teacher reflexivity. In the third study, I report on several training initiatives that guided first-semester graduate students teaching beginning German without much prior teaching experience and with a common textbook. Targeting their professional development in the first semester, data collected through discussion posts, reflective journals, and lesson plans shed light on novice graduate student instructors’ ability to connect textbook use in their classrooms with their growing conceptual understanding of teaching methods. All three studies investigate if and how textbooks can become an active component of implementing literacies-oriented pedagogy at the introductory level.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition & Teaching