Literacies Glossary

Cultural content

Products: The tangible (e.g., paintings, monuments, literature, clothing, etc.) or intangible (e.g., ritual, education systems, laws, etc.) creations of a particular culture. They reflect a culture’s perspectives.
Example: anti-aging / beauty / wrinkle creams

Practices: Patterns of social interactions and behaviors. What to do, where to do it and how to interact within a particular culture. Reflect a culture’s perspectives and may involve the use of a culture’s products.
Example: getting botox, coloring hair

Perspectives: The values, beliefs, attitudes, and philosophical perspectives of a society; a culture’s view of the world. Inform a culture’s products and practices.
Example: youth is beautiful and highly valued


Communicative Modes

Interpersonal communication:
Interaction and meaning negotiation in spontaneous spoken, written, or signed conversations. Exploring relationships, shared assumptions, conventions, imagination, creativity, and emotions that are grounded in understandings of textual content. Oral/aural and written.

Interpretive communication:
Reader, listener or viewer constructs meaning (e.g., interprets, understands, analyzes) from a written, audio, audiovisual, or digital text. No possibility of negotiating meaning. Aural and written communication.

Presentational communication: Sharing information and ideas to an (often) distant audience in order to inform, explain, persuade, and narrate on various topics. Demonstrating awareness of communicative conventions relevant to the text type, context, and audience. No opportunity for negotiating or clarifying meaning. Oral and written.

Knowledge Processes

Ways that students interact with texts to make meaning; foundational types of thinking that students “do to know”. Include four different types of activities students can carry out—experiencing, conceptualizing, analyzing, applying—as they develop their language literacies. Can occur in any order.

Experiencing: Learning through immersion in texts, activities, and social situations. Expression of thoughts, reactions, opinions, and feelings about familiar or new experiences, objects, ideas, situations, perspectives, and ways of communicating. Does not involve deep reflection or analysis.

Conceptualizing: Learning how language forms, conventions, organization, and other features of texts work to convey meaning. Unpacking texts, practicing skills and knowledge, and explicit learning about textual features helps learners participate more fully in communication.

Analyzing: Learning by connecting the content of texts to social, cultural, and historical contexts. Questioning the meaning, importance, and consequences of textual content. Critically reflecting on textual content and its relationship to one’s own culture, perspectives, and learning.

Applying: Learning by using new knowledge, skills, and understandings and by producing language in creative ways.


Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2009). ‘Multiliteracies’: New literacies, new learning. Pedagogies, 4, 164-194.

Kalantzis, M., & Cope, B. [Education at Illinois]. (2016, February 1). Experiential and conceptual learning [Video file]. Retrieved from

Kalantzis, M., & Cope, B. [Education at Illinois]. (2016, February 1). Analytical and applied learning [Video file]. Retrieved from

Kalantzis, M., Cope, B., Chan, E., & Dalley-Trim, L. (2016). Literacies (2nd ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

National Standards Collaborative Board. (2015). World-Readiness standards for learning languages. 4th ed. Alexandria, VA: Author.

New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66, 60-92.

Paesani, K., Allen, H. W., & Dupuy, B. (2016). A multiliteracies framework for collegiate foreign language teaching. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.


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