Second
Language
Multimodal
Literacies

Invited Speakers

Denise Newfield
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Dr. Newfield's Biographical Statement

Denise Newfield was a professor in the field of literacy and literature education at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, for many years. Continuing to engage in research projects and supervision, she says: ‘I have been passionate about the transformative potential of multimodal literacies all my life, even before I encountered them as theoretical frameworks. So many ways to think, to do, to explain, interpret, learn, work together and to live! As a scholar-practitioner, my ongoing inspiration has been an entanglement of brilliant co-teachers and researchers, with my students and their students, and the richly transformative and creative ways second language learners have enfolded their own semiotic histories and practices into their making and performance.’

Dr. Newfield’s PhD (University of London), ‘Transmodal semiosis in classrooms’, focuses on the shifting of mode in learning. She has given keynote addresses around the world and published widely in the field, winning awards for teaching and research. She is Founder of ZAPP, the South African Poetry Project, which brings together poets, scholars, teachers and students in a joint multimodal poetry endeavour.

Recent publications include a Special Issue of Education as Change that she co-edited, Decoloniality in/as Poetry; and a special issue of SOTL in the South from posthuman and new materialist perspectives that she is co-editing, Doing Academia Differently, coming April 2023.

Poetry, Performance and Making in Second Language Learning

My presentation looks back at a lifetime’s South African work in the field of multimodal literacies, returning to and re-turning it in order to understand it better, and to convey its features in ways that might be helpful for scholars, teachers and students at this particular moment in time. This work was carried out under the stars of multiliteracies (New London Group) and multimodal social semiotics (Kress 2010; Jewitt 2014). My own work is included alongside that of many brilliant co-teachers, researchers, students and their students, in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa, in formal language, literacy and literature classrooms, as well as in clubs, community venues and on stages.

The goal of this work has been both political and educational – to oppose apartheid and colonial curricula and pedagogies, and, since liberation, to attenuate the legacies of previous inequitable and educationally unsound systems. We have sought to enhance alphabetic literacy, to encourage semiosic production, semiosic dispositions, and new senses of self, context and the world. Our work has been undertaken at different stages of life and levels of education, in both well-resourced and under-resourced, monolingual and multilingual environments.

My presentation will make a tight selection from this work in order to focus on our reconceptualization of poetry as a multimodal genre, and on the role that poetry, performance and making has played in second language contexts. I shall try to evoke the magic of our multimodal enterprise through examples, while also theorising them. I shall show how South African educators modified the frameworks through a focus on local practices. I also wish to diffract past analyses through philosophical approaches of posthumanism (Braidotti 2013) and feminist new materialisms (Barad 2007) to show the alignments and disalignments between these frameworks and those of multimodal literacies.

Dr. Newfield's Biographical Statement

Denise Newfield was a professor in the field of literacy and literature education at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, for many years. Continuing to engage in research projects and supervision, she says: ‘I have been passionate about the transformative potential of multimodal literacies all my life, even before I encountered them as theoretical frameworks. So many ways to think, to do, to explain, interpret, learn, work together and to live! As a scholar-practitioner, my ongoing inspiration has been an entanglement of brilliant co-teachers and researchers, with my students and their students, and the richly transformative and creative ways second language learners have enfolded their own semiotic histories and practices into their making and performance.’

Dr. Newfield’s PhD (University of London), ‘Transmodal semiosis in classrooms’, focuses on the shifting of mode in learning. She has given keynote addresses around the world and published widely in the field, winning awards for teaching and research. She is Founder of ZAPP, the South African Poetry Project, which brings together poets, scholars, teachers and students in a joint multimodal poetry endeavour.

Recent publications include a Special Issue of Education as Change that she co-edited, Decoloniality in/as Poetry; and a special issue of SOTL in the South from posthuman and new materialist perspectives that she is co-editing, Doing Academia Differently, coming April 2023.

Ana Oskoz
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Dr. Oskoz' Biographical Statement

Ana Oskoz is Professor in the Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Her research focuses on the potential of social digital tools to contribute to learners L2 writing and L2 intercultural communicative competence. When focusing on L2 writing, she has examined collaborative and individual writing using social tools, digital literacies, feedback, and the use of multimodal texts (digital stories, blogs) from cognitive and sociocultural perspectives. Ana Oskoz has also engaged in several transatlantic telecollaborative projects in which she has examined how L2 learners negotiate their ideological positions, create new knowledge, and build their arguments in written asynchronous interactions.

Dr. Oskoz’s work has published nationally and internationally in journals such as Journal of Second Language WritingForeign Language Annals, Language Learning & Technology, and CALICO Journal, as well as in edited books. She has co-edited two books: Technology across writing contexts and tasks (CALICO) with Greg Kessler and Idoia Elola and Understanding Attitude in Intercultural Virtual Communication (Equinox Publishing) with Margarita Vinagre. She also co-authored the book, Digital L2 Writing Literacies (Equinox Publishing) with Idoia Elola. Dr. Oskoz is also co-editor of CALICO Journal.

Second Language Digital Literacies in a Multilingual, Multimodal World

The constant integration of new digital media and tools in our lives, together with the increasing variations and nonstandard versions of language used in everyday life, has increased the presence and use of multimodal texts. However, much of our instructional practices in heritage/second language (HL/L2) classes conform to a monolinguistic view of language education that is becoming obsolete in the multilingual, multicultural, and multimodal world in which our language learners, who are often avid digital users, function. As HL/L2 learners are faced with the need to express, negotiate, and interpret intended meanings in communication modes, such as aural or visual modes, not often considered or seen before in the HL/L2 classroom, the question that we face is how we can develop our learners’ literacies in a way that reflects the linguistic richness that exists in multicultural communities and the multimodal texts in which they engage.

By being informed by the most appropriate theoretical and pedagogical approaches to teaching HL/L2 using digital practices, instructors can better incorporate multilingual and multimodal practices into their classrooms. Whereas SLA, rhetorical, and applied linguistics tenets have traditionally informed our HL/L2 writing practices, the qualitative changes resulting from the use of semiotic resources in HL/L2 digital composition require us to expand our theoretical and pedagogical base to consider models, such as social semiotics and multiliteracies, that lie outside the traditional realm of HL/L2 teaching and learning. Widening our theoretical and pedagogical perspectives will allow instructors to consider the heterogeneity and multilingual nature of learners, include multimodal texts and communication in conjunction with more traditional versions of academic work, and acknowledge multimodal composition in shaping learners’ authorial voices and identities.

Dr. Oskoz' Biographical Statement

Ana Oskoz is Professor in the Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Her research focuses on the potential of social digital tools to contribute to learners L2 writing and L2 intercultural communicative competence. When focusing on L2 writing, she has examined collaborative and individual writing using social tools, digital literacies, feedback, and the use of multimodal texts (digital stories, blogs) from cognitive and sociocultural perspectives. Ana Oskoz has also engaged in several transatlantic telecollaborative projects in which she has examined how L2 learners negotiate their ideological positions, create new knowledge, and build their arguments in written asynchronous interactions.

Dr. Oskoz’s work has published nationally and internationally in journals such as Journal of Second Language WritingForeign Language Annals, Language Learning & Technology, and CALICO Journal, as well as in edited books. She has co-edited two books: Technology across writing contexts and tasks (CALICO) with Greg Kessler and Idoia Elola and Understanding Attitude in Intercultural Virtual Communication (Equinox Publishing) with Margarita Vinagre. She also co-authored the book, Digital L2 Writing Literacies (Equinox Publishing) with Idoia Elola. Dr. Oskoz is also co-editor of CALICO Journal.

Jennifer Rowsell
University of Sheffield

Dr. Rowsell's Biographical Statement

Jennifer Rowsell is a Professor of Digital Literacy at the University of Sheffield. Her research interests include multimodal, makerspace and arts-based research with young people; digital literacies research; digital divide work; and, applying posthumanist and affect approaches to literacy research. She has worked and conducted research in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Her most recent co-authored books are: Unsettling Literacies: Directions for literacy research in precarious times (with C.  Lee, C. Bailey, and C. Burnett) and Living Literacies (with Kate Pahl).

The Comfort of Screens: Living and Learning with Multiple Languages on Screens

It is clear by now that the global pandemic changed so many parts of society. For teachers, a substantial change was a dramatic turn to online teaching and a push for digital, multimodal pedagogies that shifted how educators plan and think about their teaching, even today as we move back to face-to-face teaching. With online teaching, educators faced many challenges and particularly teachers who rely on the physicality and performative nature of subjects like second language teaching. Moving second language teaching onto screens entailed adjusting in short order to new pedagogical repertoires and a multimodal logic. In this keynote, I will take a landscape view of where we were as language and literacy educators before March 2020 and where we need to be in the wake of a period of global precarity (Lee et al, 2022). Built on past and present literacy research, in the keynote I will identify ways that language teachers and researchers need to reimagine their methods and repertoires to align with lived post-digital language practices. Informed by Sara Ahmed’s (2014) notion of sticky emotions, I argue that bodies, emotions, and modes circulate within and across languages as lived, vital forms of communication and we need to actively disrupt framings of language as systematic and bounded to embrace language teaching that is fluid, flexible, inspired by lived properties.

Dr. Rowsell's Biographical Statement

Jennifer Rowsell is a Professor of Digital Literacy at the University of Sheffield. Her research interests include multimodal, makerspace and arts-based research with young people; digital literacies research; digital divide work; and, applying posthumanist and affect approaches to literacy research. She has worked and conducted research in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Her most recent co-authored books are: Unsettling Literacies: Directions for literacy research in precarious times (with C.  Lee, C. Bailey, and C. Burnett) and Living Literacies (with Kate Pahl).