Re-Writing the Goals of Foreign Language Teaching/Learning: The Achievement of Multiple Literacies and "Symbolic Competence"
Foreign language pedagogical models are (yet again!) in a period of transition. For a few decades, Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) reigned supreme among other models, as “communicative competence” was deemed the desired outcome of the language learning process. This is no longer the case. With globalization spreading, learners face increasing demands that go beyond being able to successfully navigate simple face-to-face interactions: They need to engage in critically interpreting all sort of texts, and, ultimately, they need to negotiate their identity in other languages. Accordingly, FL departments in higher education institutions have began rethinking the current models, have already come up with alternative organizing principles, and are slowly proposing alternative curricula. Multiple literacies and advanced foreign language capacities (Kern, 2000; Swaffar and Arens, 2005; Byrnes et al. (eds.), 2006 among others) have become such alternate models/ constructs. In this paper, I will analyze these frameworks: The ways in which they integrate and/or diverge from previous approaches, the likelihood that they ‘go mainstream’ and the outcomes for learners. I will then consider whether “symbolic competence,” a notion proposed by Kramsch (2008), can be thought of as the outcome of these new models.
Keywords: Multiple Literacies, Foreign Language Pedagocical Models, Communicative Competence, Symbolic Competence
Assistant Professor, Spanish Department, Haverford College