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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Presentation Details

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ESL Academic Writing On-line: Using Multiliterate Approaches for Writing Improvement and Sociocultural Development

Dr. Valia Spiliotopoulos.


This presentation discusses a research project that explored how using technology within a multicultural environment can empower linguistic minorities by having them write on-line in English with other international students in an academic context.
However, to prepare these students for success, “literacy teaching and learning need to change because the world is changing” (Cope and Kalantzis, 2000, p. 1). The current learning environment in Canada is one where students often have access to and are expected to know how to use computers, and where students are often surrounded by other international students who have multiple citizenship and who participate in a variety of language and discourse communities. Cope and Kalantzis emphasize the notion that the students of today and tomorrow cannot be merely literate, but must be ‘multiliterate’. By being multiliterate, they can understand many modes of text from a variety of communication and information networks, and work cooperatively with others in a multicultural environment.
The motivation behind this research project arose from a desire to address ESL students’ needs within a ‘multiliteracy’ framework by using innovative technologies to improve international students’ academic writing skills in a multicultural and multidisciplinary environment. As such, a research project was conducted at the English Language Institute at the University of British Columbia in order to assess the viability of technological supplements in writing improvement and sociocultural development.
Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used to gather data in order to evaluate writing progress over time. Although the quantitative results did not reveal any significant findings, the qualitative results suggested that on-line interaction assisted students in improving their writing skills and developing their cross-cultural and interpersonal communication skills. The findings of this research project suggest that interactive writing using an electronic bulletin board allows ESL students the possibility of becoming multiliterate, thereby enabling them to integrate into and contribute to the academic community more effectively.

References:

Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2000). 'Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures.' New York, NY: Routledge.

Presenters

Dr. Valia Spiliotopoulos  (Canada)
Lecturer in English
Office of English Language and Writing Support School of Graduate Studies
University of Toronto

Valia Spiliotopoulos just recently completed her Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia where she has been teaching English and French as a second language for the last 7 years. She currently lectures at the University of Toronto helping international graduate students with their English writing and speaking skills.

Keywords
  • Multiliteracy
  • Academic Writing
  • English as a Second Language
  • Educational Technology



(30 min Conference Paper, English)