Summer Institute participants


Literacies in Language Education

CARLA's Literacies in Language Education initiative gives teachers research-based tools, resources, and experiences that help them effectively apply multiliteracies pedagogy and engage students with authentic texts in secondary and post-secondary classrooms.

How Do We Define Foreign Language Literacies?

Traditional definitions of literacy focus on language users’ ability to read and write accurately. Yet in the 21st century, being literate in a language entails other abilities such as:
  • understanding and creating multimodal texts like web pages;
  • communicating across cultural and geographical contexts; and
  • using language for a range of social, professional, academic, and everyday purposes.
Because the modern meaning of literacy is multidimensional and dynamic, it is more appropriate to speak of literacies in the plural. The term “foreign language” is used in relation to the concept of literacies to underscore that we are speaking about literacies development in languages other than one’s first language.

Definitions of other key terms are available in the literacies glossary. We continue to update this list, so be sure to check back regularly!

Why Adopt a Literacies Approach to Language Education?

It is important for language classrooms to reflect the dynamic, socially-determined, and multidimensional uses of language encountered in daily life. Adopting a literacies orientation helps meet this goal and has a number of advantages for teachers, students, and language programs, including:
  • equipping students with the tools necessary to navigate the complex world of foreign/second languages and cultures;
  • engaging students with various types of written, audio, audiovisual, and visual materials in the target language that provide a window into the products, practices, and perspectives of the target cultures they study;
  • providing a point of articulation between secondary and post-secondary contexts; and
  • bridging the language-content divide that characterizes many postsecondary language departments.

Literacies Resources for Teachers

  • Literacies Bibliography: thematically organized list of scholarly publications.
  • Text Resources: links to written, audio, and audiovisual texts in multiple languages.
  • Lesson Analysis Checklist: a tool for analyzing and adapting existing text-based lessons.
  • Activity Repository: examples of activities for enacting the knowledge processes of multiliteracies pedagogy - experiencing, conceptualizing, analyzing, applying
  • Infographics: presentation of literacies-related concepts in jargon-free, teacher-friendly language
  • Research: findings from studies conducted by the Literacies in Language Education project team

Literacies Book

Literacies in Language Education: A Guide for Teachers and Teacher Educators is a practical book arising from the Literacies in Language Education initiative. CARLA hosts the book’s companion website, which includes free resources to support teachers and teacher educators wishing to implement a literacies orientation in their language programs.

CARLA Summer Institutes for Language Teachers

Each summer CARLA offers a wide array of professional development opportunities for K-16 language teachers, including a summer institute based on the Foreign Language Literacies project.

CARLA Bibliography

The CARLA bibliography contains more information on publications and presentations by faculty and staff involved in the Literacies in Language Education project.


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