Re-Writing the Goals of Foreign Language Teaching: The Achievement of Multiple Literacies and Symbolic Competence

By Ana López-Sánchez.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Since the 70s, foreign language departments have seen communicative competence as the desired outcome of the language learning process and have used communicative teaching approaches––mainly Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)––to achieve that goal. The increasing demands that learners face due to the spread of globalization have called into question the appropriateness of those goals and methods. As a result of this questioning, FL departments are now in the process of rethinking their curricula and pedagogies. A construct that has emerged as a possible new organizing principle is literacy. In this paper, I explore the rationale and implications of using this construct (literacy) to articulate and redefine the goals of FL programs, and some of the characteristics of a literacy-based curriculum. I will propose that such curricula will deliver what Kramsch (2008) has called “symbolic competence”. I will end by discussing some of the hurdles that lie in the way of the implementation of the changes proposed.

Keywords: Multiple Literacies, Foreign Language pedagogical model, Communicative Competence, Symbolic Competence

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 10, pp.29-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.268MB).

Ana López-Sánchez

Assistant Professor, Spanish Department, Haverford College, Haverford, PA, USA

I am an Assistant Professor of Spanish. I have a PhD in linguistics, from the U. of Santiagode Compostela, Spain. I work and have worked at Liberal Arts colleges in the United States. I work on Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy, and Pragmatics. I am also interested in issues of Language Policy and Language Planning. I teach intermediate and advanced courses in Spanish, as well as a course on Methods, and the Politics of Spanish.

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