Standing brave in the face of
rapid curriculum change: EAL/D
teachers speak about critical
literacy and its place in senior
English teaching.
Jennifer Alford
Faculty of Education, QUT
[email protected]
Presented at AATE/ALEA National Conference, July 5-7, 2013. Brisbane.
Critical literacy (CL) has been the subject of much debate in the Australian
public and education arenas since 2002.
Recently, this debate has dissipated as literacy education agendas and attendant
policies shift to embrace more hybrid models and approaches to the teaching
of senior English.
This paper/presentation reports on the views expressed by four teachers of
senior English about critical literacy and it’s relevance to students who are
from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who are learning English
while undertaking senior studies in high school.
Teachers’ understandings of critical literacy are important, esp. given the
emphasis on Critical and Creative Thinking and Literacy as two of the General
Capabilities underpinning the Australian national curriculum.
Using critical discourse analysis, data from four specialist ESL teachers in two
different schools were analysed for the ways in which these teachers construct
critical literacy.
While all four teachers indicated significant commitment to critical literacy as
an approach to English language teaching, the understandings they articulated
varied from providing forms of access to powerful genres, to rationalist
approaches to interrogating text, to a type of ‘critical-aesthetic’ analysis of text
Overview ....
 Aims and Research Question
 Concepts and Literature Review
 Conceptual Framework
 Design and Methods
 Analysis, Findings & Discussion
 Limitations
 Implications
 References
Context: The public debate
Qld English syllabi and critical language
study –
Beginnings of CL
Senior English
CL and EAL
English for ESL
learners in
senior English
The post-critical
Senior English
2008 and
English for ESL
2007 (amended
2003 PD seminar
“Veiled in a cloud of mystery....” (McLaughlin and De Voodg, 2004, p.29)
Teachers were challenged by the need to teach
critical literacy with EAL/D learners (no EAL/D
syllabus at this stage).
Margot: I found that - I think for any student - I think
it was almost way too much, way too soon. Maybe it
was the way the school had done it because in the
first six weeks of our course we were supposed to
cover representation, representation of discourses,
what is text, invited readings, positioning, alternate
readings, resistant readings, binary oppositions. It was
just - we had this list of things to be covered in the
first six weeks and kids could barely - I mean, the
mainstream kids struggled as well because it was too
(Interview, Feb, 2010).
2007 First EAL/D QSA syllabus appeared
Riva: Because the (2002) syllabus required everything to be critical, teachers spent an awful lot of
time teaching that aspect of it and it’s a simple numbers game there isn’t that much time in the
sylla... in the school year to teach what they need to teach plus what they now have to teach so
they tended to assume language knowledge .
Riva: And for most students who’d gone through Gr 10 that was a fair assumption but for our
students who haven’t done grade 1-10 English here but they were coming in without that
assumed knowledge and the teachers were focussing on critical literacy because they had to. So
we needed a syllabus which allotted time, not just allowed, but allotted time to the explicit
teaching of language and that’s what this one did. We actually wrote it with a percentage written
in it .
Oh OK.
Riva: And QSA took it out ‘cos it didn’t fit their principles. It was agreed by everybody that 30% of
the time should be explicit language teaching but they took that out.
..and a lot of people were really upset they took it out. X were really upset.
Did they take that out in the original or in the rewrite in 2009?
Riva: No in the initial. X were really upset they took it out ‘cos they’d seen the draft and they were
really upset. But there’s general agreement that we need at least 30% of the time for language
(Interview, Feb, 2010)
2009 QSA syllabus ‘rewrite’
Some teachers requested CL be removed from the senior EAL/D
syllabus in order that international students might then pass senior
JA: And do you know about the 2009 amendment and how that
came about?
X: ...they’ve never explained it. They got up and they just said ‘Here is
the new syllabus’ at a conference. They got up on the last day and
said ‘Here is the new syllabus’ and handed it out.
JA: Right.
X: ...and it was hysterical because um they’d written it without
recourse.. without any consultation with anybody.... QSA writers
just did it themselves...they’ve telescoped all sorts of things in;
they’ve lost the ‘ESL-ness’ of it.... The other one was more rigorous
and specific.
(Interview , Feb , 2010).
JA: So what about the current senior ESL
syllabus that you're working from, what place
does critical literacy have there?
Margot: It's not mandated in the (syllabus)
it's not actually assessed. So it's not assessed
although you could argue that in terms of
cognitive processes and understanding critical literacy understandings will inform
cognitive processes.
(Interview Feb, 2010)
Identifying CL in ACARA Senior EAL/D syllabus:
“English as an Additional Language or Dialect
aims to develop students’:
• understanding of the relationships between
language, texts and ways of thinking and
knowing in SAE;
• ability to communicate ideas, feelings,
attitudes and information appropriately in and
through SAE across the curriculum areas;
• inferential comprehension, critical analysis
and reflection skills.”
“Critical” language and text analysis skillsAcross the range of units (4) in the senior EAL/D course:
 analysing how language reflects cultural constructions of groupings or ideas
such as age, gender, race and identity (ACEEA017);
 explaining the effects of descriptive language and imagery in texts
 explaining how language is used to influence or persuade an audience or to
express appreciation of an object, a process or a performance (ACEEA014);
 explaining overt and implicit assumptions made in texts, for example, as seen in
editorial opinions and stereotypes in advertising (ACEEA042);
 analysing how language forms and conventions used in different modes and
mediums influence audiences (ACEEA072);
 analysing how audiences are positioned in texts and how texts present
different perspectives on personal, social and historical issues (ACEEA094)
 analysing how culturally based representations of concepts such as knowledge
or authority are conveyed (ACEEA095);
 evaluating the manipulation of text structures and language features for
different purposes (ACEEA096) ...............
Assessment Criteria: “Responding to texts”
An ‘A’ standard =
evaluates information, ideas and attitudes
presented in texts, demonstrating insightful
 critically analyses how relationships between
context, purpose and audience influence texts
 evaluates the effectiveness of text structures,
language features and conventions in different
modes and mediums to convey personal, social
and cultural perspectives;
 critically analyses relationships between language,
values, culture and identity and evaluates how
they influence and change understanding.
Research problem
“What kinds of literate practices, for whom, fitted
for what social and economic formations can and
should be constructed and sanctioned through
teaching?” (Freebody & Luke, 1990, p. 2).
English and EAL/D teachers have been
experiencing rapid and significant change in the
policies that guide their daily work.
The question for teachers then is: how do we
now continue to ‘move’ pedagogically – designing
responsive, inclusive and intellectually engaging
curriculum (Comber & Nixon, 2009)... for senior
school EAL/D learners at levels 4-6 on the ESL
Research question in this paper:
In the context of current approaches to and
debates about language and literacy
teaching, what are EAL/D teachers’
articulated understandings of critical
language study/critical literacy (CL)?
Teacher knowledge/conceptualisations of CL as
evident in their interview talk and classroom
Lit review - Concepts and Terms
CLA – Critical Language Awareness (Clark,
1995; Fairclough, 1992, 2001; Wallace, 1999, 2003).
CLS – Critical Language Studies (Van Lier, 2004)
 Critical EAP (Benesch, 2001, 2009; Morgan, B. 2005, 2009)
 CL – Critical Literacy (Corson, 1999; Janks, 1991,
2000; Luke, 1995, 1997, 2000 ; Morgan, 1997)
Distillation of critical language study to
one “method” is actively resisted (Collins &
Blot, 2003; Comber, 2001; Luke, 2000; Morgan & Ramanathan,
2005; Norton & Toohey, 2004; Street, 2003)
“By ‘critical’ we mean ways that give
students tools for weighing and
critiquing, analysing and appraising
textual techniques and ideologies, values
and positions. The key challenge….is how
to engage students with the study of ‘how
texts work’ semiotically and linguistically,
while at the same time taking up explicitly
how texts and their associated social
institutions work politically to construct
and position writers and readers in
relations of power and knowledge (or lack
thereof).” (Luke, Comber & O’Brien, 1994, p. 35)
Literature Review: Studies about high school EAL teachers’
understandings and practice of critical language study
Individual teacher is the source of the
lack of knowledge about and lack of
personal commitment to CLA among
English/EAL teachers, regardless of
currriculum (Monareng, 2008; Savage, 2008; CadieroKaplan, 2001)
Teacher inexperience, isolation, class size and
the range of teacher’s responsibility as well
as teacher education courses must be taken
into account (Glazier, 2007);
Literature Review: “Best” practice models of critical EAL teaching
Grammar focussed models:
Carr (1994); Hammond & Macken-Horarick, (1999); Janks
(1991); Morgan, Brian (2004); Wallace (1999, 2003)
Academic skill sets approach:
e.g., linking personal experience to broader
exercise of power ; raising awareness about
English and its role in colonial history…..
CL can complement not replace the
conventional focus on the skill sets needed for
academic study.
Benesch (2001, 2009) ; Morgan & Ramanathan (2005).
Literature Review: EAL learners and critical language study
Students become stronger agents of their own language
learning (Janks, 1999; 2010; Wallace 1992, 1995, 1999, 2003)
Cultural and functional “received” notions of literacy
education, that characterise EAL instruction, are the very
conditions that are preventing low level literacy EAL learners
from achieving literacy development in schools. (de Gourville
“Critical language awareness is a valuable tool to disrupt
traditional approaches of language teaching which can
reproduce unjust views and structures rather than transform
them” (Godley & Minicci, 2008).
Lau (2013) – with careful language scaffolds and guidance as well as
classroom structures and conditions that facilitate open and critical
discussions of real student concerns, beginning ELLs were quite
capable of cognitively challenging (critical) literacy work.” (p. 25).
3 conditions?
Janks’s (2010) Synthesis model draws
on the literature:
Catherine Wallace/Norman Fairclough
 Lisa Delpit, Jenny Hammond, Mary
Macken-Horarick (Access);
 Shirley Brice Heath and ‘Ways with
Words’ (Diversity);
 New London Group and Multiliteracies
Janks’s (2010) model
Janks maintains that four orientations are
possible - Domination, Access,
Diversity and Design - that they are
interdependent and ideally, that all need
to be held in “productive tension to
achieve what is a shared goal of all critical
literacy work: equity and social justice”
(Janks, 2010, p.27).
Domination assumes a critical discourse analysis approach in which
the language and images in dominant texts are deconstructed to
discover concepts such as foregroundings, silences and whose
interests are served. (“CL” in Qld)
Access - making explicit the features of the genres that carry social
power, e.g., analytical essays and reports, hitherto assumed to be
already in the/some learners’ heads.
- a hallmark of EAL/D teaching in Australia since the 1980s and is
an important part of teachers’ pedagogy. Janks (2010), Lee (1997) and
others caution, however, that access without deconstruction can
serve to naturalise and reify such genres without questioning how
they came to be powerful.
Diversity - drawing on a range of modalities as resources and to
include students’ own diverse language and literacies.
Design asks teachers to harness the productive power of diverse
learners to create their own meanings through re-construction of
texts. Students use a range of media and technologies to do so
without relying on traditional print media.
The Synthesis Model of Critical Literacy (Janks, 2010, p. 26)
Domination without access
This maintains the exclusionary force of dominant discourses.
Domination without diversity
Domination without difference and diversity
loses the ruptures that produce contestation
and change.
The deconstruction of dominance, without
reconstruction or design, removes human
Access without a theory of domination
leads to the naturalisation of powerful
discourses without an understanding of how
these powerful forms came to be powerful.
This fails to recognise that difference
fundamentally affects pathways to access and
involves issues of history, identity and value.
This maintains and reifies dominant forms
without considering how they can be
This leads to a celebration of diversity without
any recognition that difference is structured in
dominance and that not all
discourses/genres/languages/literacies are equally powerful.
Diversity without access to powerful forms of language ghettoises students.
Domination without design
Access without domination
Access without diversity
Access without design
Diversity without domination
Diversity without access
Diversity without design
Design without domination
Design without access
Design without diversity
Diversity provides the means, the ideas, the
alternative perspectives for reconstruction and transformation.
Without design, the potential that diversity offers is not realised.
Design without an understanding of how
dominant discourses/practices perpetuate
themselves, runs the risk of an unconscious
reproduction of these forms.
This runs the risk of whatever is designed remaining on the margins.
This privileges dominant forms and fails to
use the design resources provided by difference.
Conceptual Framework
Language as social practice (Fairclough,
1989, 1992, 1995, 2001, 2003; Lankshear, 1997; Luke, 1991, 1995......).
Critical Discourse Analysis… via the
intricate workings of language. (Fairclough,
Fairclough’s approach to CDA
Step 1: identify a social problem which has a semiotic aspect. Semiosis includes
all forms of meaning making - visual images, aural, body language or actual
written or spoken language. Every practice has semiotic elements.
Step 2: identify obstacles to the problem through analysis of:
the network of practices it is located within;
the relationship of semiosis to other elements within the particular practices
concerned; and the discourse (the semiosis itself).
Analysis of discourse involves:
Context - Social conditions of production and of
interpretation - Queensland, Australia, 2010
Interaction – process of production
and interpretation - School as
Fig. 1. Discourse as text, interaction and context
(Fairclough, 2001b, p. 21).
institution; governing bodies; researcher
Text e.g, teacher talk
in interview; classroom
Step 3: consider whether the social order in a sense ‘needs’ the problem in
order to maintain the status quo.
Step 4: identify possible ways past the obstacles and reflect critically on the
analysis carried out in steps 1 to 4.
Conceptual framework combined:
(Fairclough, 2003)
Systemic Functional Linguistic
tools to analyse data
Representation: Ways of representing aspects of
the world through language (e.g., critical literacy
as a concept in this study) = discourses
• Aspects of transitivity (Halliday, 1978) –
participants (who or what is acting) and
processes (how are they acting);
Action: Ways of acting/interacting within a social
event and includes enacting social relations (e.g.,
ways of doing teaching) = genres
•Semantic/grammatical relations between
sentences and clauses;
•Higher-level semantic relations over long
stretches of text –predominant types of
exchange and speech functions;
•Predominant grammatical moods (declarative,
imperative or interrogative?).
Identification: Ways of being /identifying with
some position; indicates commitment and
judgement (e.g., ways teachers position
themselves and learners in relation to critical
literacy)= styles.
•Modality (commitment to ‘truth’ (epistemic
modalities) and necessity/obligation (deontic
•Evaluation (e.g., through the use of adjectives or
•Shifts in mode from everyday to technical
Design and Methods
 Critical
case study design
(Carspecken, 1996; Creswell, 2008)
- advocacy and transformation of social
practices in pursuit of more equitable
 multiple instrumental case study design
(Creswell, 2008).
 Inductive and deductive.
4 cases – four teachers in two sites over 1
school term
Site 1 Beacon* High – lower SES; more refugeebackground learners: Margot and Celia.
Site 2 Riverdale High – mixed-higher SES; more
international/migrant students: Riva and Lucas.
* = all names are pseudonyms.
5 data sets :
i. Semi-structured interviews (3 x 4
ii. Video recordings of “CL” lessons*
(3 x 4) in a “CL”* unit;
iii. Field notes;
i. Stimulated verbal recall – video
ii. Teachers’ planning documents.
* Teacher designated. They invited me to
these “CL” lessons.
SFL tools to analyse data
at linguistic level
Representation: Ways of
representing aspects of the
world through language (e.g.,
critical literacy as a concept
in this study) = discourses
• Aspects of transitivity (Halliday, 1978)
– participants (who or what is acting)
and processes (how are they acting);
Janks (2010)
as explanatory framework for analysis
Combinations of....
Action: Ways of
acting/interacting within a
social event and includes
enacting social relations
(e.g., ways of doing
teaching) = genres
•Semantic/grammatical relations
between sentences and clauses;
•Higher-level semantic relations over
long stretches of text –predominant
types of exchange and speech
•Predominant grammatical moods
(declarative, imperative or
Identification: Ways of being
/identifying with some
position; indicates
commitment and
judgement (e.g., ways
teachers position
themselves and learners in
relation to critical
literacy)= styles.
•Modality (commitment to ‘truth’
(epistemic modalities) and
necessity/obligation (deontic
•Evaluation (e.g., through the use of
adjectives or qualifiers);
•Shifts in mode from everyday to
technical language;
Key Critical Literacy Learning Experiences
chosen from the syllabus for
the school Work Programs
Assessment item
(taken directly from the English for ESL Learners
Syllabus (2007, amended 2009, p.17-18).
Beacon High
Margot Yr 11 Language of the
Year 12
Language of
i. Examining how individuals and groups, times, places,
events or concepts and their relationships with one another
are represented in written or spoken and/or multimodal texts
such as documentaries, feature articles, television and radio
news broadcasts.
ii. Analysing how vocabulary and verbal, non-verbal, visual,
auditory and/or language features are selected and used for
different purposes and audiences.
(Margot focussed on television and print news media).
i. Identifying the individuals, groups, times, places and issues
that are represented in a variety of literary texts; make and
justify decisions about why they are represented in similar
and/or different ways.
(Celia scoped the unit to the study of two texts – Animal
Farm by George Orwell and sections of Macbeth by William
Written investigative report on the
ways in which the media
represent groups in society
(e.g.,women in sport, refugees, aged
people, youth).
Written persuasive text Hortatorical speech calling a
group of people to action in
relation to some aspect of the unit
theme – oppression. 800-1000
Riverdale High
Year 11
Year 11
Language of the
i. Examining how individuals and groups, times, places,
events or concepts and their relationships with one another
are represented in written or spoken and/or multimodal
texts such as documentaries, feature articles, television and
radio news broadcasts.
ii. Analysing how vocabulary and verbal, non-verbal, visual,
auditory and/or language features are selected and used for
different purposes and audiences.
Written analytical exposition of the
multimodal techniques used to
represent a particular point of
view in an on-line documentary.
Exam conditions; 600 words.
Excerpt 1
Teacher 1 Margot
Margot: Okay. I guess critical literacy is understanding not JUST (.5) what the text is
about but, um well, it IS understanding what the text is about, but understanding WHY
that text is about that, what (1.0) I guess (2.0) oh it sounds a bit subversive if you start
talking about hidden messages but um, understanding why things have been written in
the way they've been written, um, and I guess you know for teenagers in particular
there's - they tend to take everything at face value, to just accept that because they've
read it somewhere IT’S TRUE, whereas it's just developing that more CRITICAL way
of looking at (.5) text, whatever they may be. So that to me is critical literacy, is I guess
OPENING THEM UP to understanding that it's not just about seeing what's in front of
you but seeing where it fits into a wider CONTEXT where it fits into you know our
society or that particular society or um, and thus becoming more EMPOWERED. I
like that word empowered, so.........
JA: So in what way do you think they're empowered by critical literacy?
Margot: Because it allows them to understand if they're being manipulated I guess. Um,
it allows them to see - (2.0) that if you KNOW (.5) why somebody is saying
something in a particular way it does help you to UNDERSTAND the issue more
deeply. I guess it's a matter of, you know, like, for them THINKING more deeply
about (.5) you know what are the agents – you know like, how things, just that whole
empowering business I guess is understanding, you know, how society works, how
(Margot, Site 1. Interview 1, Feb 3, 2010; lines 6-35)
Excerpt 2
Margot: Also in terms of I guess communication skills
which is….. to me, communication skills are where crit
lit [sic] dovetails with knowledge of language because
how you communicate, basically, you know, all of those
things come together, your knowledge of grammar, your
vocabulary, all of those things come together to
communicate a particular message in a particular way
and that's where your genre and your register and all of
those things do operate together (emphasised with
rising intonation) because part of that .. in terms of
creating a particular text for a particular purpose, which
is what crit lit - I guess that's the production side of it ..
is understanding the right register, having the right
(Margot, Site 1. Interview 1, Feb 3, 2010: 392-401).
Analysis* - Margot
Re-presents CL as a source of understanding and social empowerment for
teenagers and a standard attribute of an open-minded, educated person;
 Access and Domination are interdependent (logic of equivalence);
 Further refines the term CL by arguing that deconstruction of texts (Janks’s
Domination orientation) can actually aid students’ Access to dominant
 Does not indicate whether deconstruction would extend to the ‘genres of
power’ (Luke, 1996); i.e., interrogating those genres to see the ideological
‘work’ they do, not just the functional work.
 Uses declarative verb moods, and explains causal and equivalent semantic
relations between CL and positive outcomes;
 Indicates strong epistemic commitment to CL, suggesting it is an inevitable
and empowering aspect of literacy teaching; some weakening of commitment
through use of the mental process ‘guess’.
 The ‘access paradox’ (Lodge, 1997; Janks 2004). Margot seems to be
suggesting that in order to produce critical literacy responses, students need
access to the naturalised, ‘symbolic power’ (Bourdieu, 1991) or status afforded
to certain genres in schooling system.
 Diversity and Design?
Teacher 2 Celia
Excerpt 1
Celia : (addressing the class) So the genre is persuasive. It's a
persuasive text. You're going to convince people to take some
form of action. You want to change attitudes or beliefs, or both, or
you want to reinforce and strengthen certain attitudes that the
collective group would hold. Now you've got a particular purpose.
Now you choose who you want to be. You can be a person - an
historical person that's achieved great things, or you can be an
imaginary person. You can make something up. But you've got to
be focusing on oppression - that's the topic - and the fight for
freedom. ......(discussion about the connection of the task to the parent
novel ‘Animal Farm’ (Orwell, 1943) being studied and features of the
genre required).
(Celia lesson 2, Feb 23, 2010. Lines 43-120)
Excerpt 2
I think also critical literacy is getting involved in your reading. You
might want to take something PERSONALLY or you might want to reject
it and say, I don’t agree with this at all. I guess critical literacy is
KNOWING that you have the power to do that and that you are aware
of where you stand as far as a particular text is concerned, so you can
become EMOTIONALLY involved with a text. I think that that’s being
critically literate as well.
In what way?......
……yeah, just becoming emotionally involved. Then I guess,
because I’m aware of critical literacy (1.0) and how it can affect a reader, I
can see that the language choices have been DESIGNED and the story has
been written for me to have that (1.0) emotional response. So I can sort
of actually critically analyse the text if I wanted to, according to her
language choices. She’s* positioned me quite WELL (1.0) to become
EMOTIONALLY involved with the story, to even want to dig a bit deeper
and find out a little bit more about the background and the era and the
actual setting of the story itself, who she is as an author, to the extent that
I would go and borrow a book and read her stories.
(Celia. Interview 1, Feb 8, 2010; lines 22-62).
The author – Alice Walker.
Analysis - Celia
Celia foregrounds CL as a significant aspect of learning to be literate for
her particular EAL/D learners, many of whom are refugee-background with
interrupted schooling, thereby embracing the idea that EAL/D learners can
engage critically with texts at a higher order thinking level (cf. the social
Celia seems to be holding some elements of critical literacy in productive
tension - Access and Domination and to a lesser extent Diversity;
As a result, she demonstrates pedagogy that invites some contestation and
change brought about by alternative perspectives (Janks, 2010). But there is
a strong allegiance to ‘genre pedagogy’ and ‘essayist literacy’ (Allison, 2011;
Ivanic, 1998; Street, 1984) and “subjection to the normative forms of
academic writing” (Janks, 2010, p. 155). The ‘Access paradox’ continues to
influence these teachers;
Celia seems to be suggesting that CL is being able to become emotionally
involved in a story and be moved or affected by its language use, and to
simultaneously be aware of how that language is positioning one as the
reader. Morgan (1997), and Misson and Morgan (2006) promote this view
when they suggest that teachers can work with ‘critical aesthetics’: teaching
students to be open to critique that which they find beautiful or pleasing.
Data Teacher 3 Riva
A representation works within a construction of reality. So it's like construction of
reality is the big picture, and the representation can be of PEOPLE , of IDEAS , of things
that happen, of GROUPS OF PEOPLE So, (2.0) when constructing his reality, or her
reality, the documentary maker will be representing the scientists in a particular way (1.0)
and representing the pandas, who are a character here, in a particular way (1.0). So they
are representing people, ideas and the issue, the situation.
This situation has been represented in a particular way and it could have been
represented (1.0) - the situation could have been represented (1.0; Riva shows, again, the
slide of Uryu Ishida challenging the dominant reading) MUCH more negatively, couldn't it?
If you remember those opening scenes of the factories . If that had continued, we could
have had a very different construction of reality, a very DIFFERENT representation of the
So, these (representations) arise from the point of the view of the text creator, the
makes the text, their point of view, their own personal context, just like yours when you
wrote your feature article, their own personal context, their idea about the world, their
beliefs, their values, what they think is important and true, affects how they represent
people, ideas and things and affects the world that THEY develop and show you.
Okay... So, to move on, how are you going to use that? How are you going write about
that? So, just an example of how you'll write about these – how you'll USE these terms
in writing. Riva shows the 5th slide in her ppt.and moves into a “grammatics” lesson.
(Riva lesson 1, Oct 6, 2010: lines 200-222.)
Analysis- Riva
Riva demonstrates a clear commitment to combining Domination with
Access especially through KAL. In doing so, she rescales the critical literacy
component of the syllabus in ways that are accessible to her particular
learners. Access with Domination provides a view of texts and discourses as
reproducable but always invested with power.
KAL is an important element of being critically literate to Riva (see MackenHorarick and Christie) and shows her commitment to and ability to provide
access to the standard variety of Australia’s dominant language (Standard
Australian English). Without knowledge of and access to dominant language,
students remain locked in a place of knowing its value and status, but with no
way of using it (Bourdieu, 1991).
Riva attempts to weave Diversity in to her pedagogy via multimodal
resources from diverse backgrounds.
Data Teacher 4 Lucas
Lucas: I understand that THEY understand the critical terminology
and how they are being positioned, whether or not they can write it
fluently is the big ask for any ESL student.
So how do you address that problem?
Lucas: With regards to this documentary and the next couple, we give them
a lot of terminology and we UNPACK some of the terminology that they
are going to be hit with. We also give them, the first thing that we give
them are cloze exercises that have those words missing but have the
sentence starters and (we) show them (that) THIS IS HOW we want you
to talk about the documentary. We might give them a few topic sentences
and (then we) SEE what they come up with after that. We scaffold them
with regards to the (1.0) requirements of an essay, their introductory
sentence, their thesis, their preview and all that, EVERYTHING that has to
do with the genre as well. Every time that we speak about this I would be
using the terminology that I expect them to HAVE in the essay. We do give
them a MODEL. I think the model is about the Disneyland one so they can
actually see how the different critical aspects have been spoken about... like
colour, music, camera angles.
(Lucas, Interview 2, Oct 5, 2010: 303-322.)
Analysis - Lucas
Lucas sees that Access, including KAL, and Domination are
able to co-exist and that critical work can unfold over time
with genre pedagogy and scaffolding enabling this process.
 Pedagogic activity is centred on literally ‘giving’ his students
knowledge about language with which they can then
formulate sentences and whole text.
 This allows the potential for Diversity of thought and
expression to be drawn on, however, Lucas indicates the
need to scaffold the genre task didactically in order for his
students to learn to master the critical literacy practices
required by schooling.
 Given the assessment constraints, the necessary focus on
Access does not allow Lucas, (or Margot, Celia or Riva) to
provide opportunity for learners to engage in any significant
way with the Design elements of the Janks’s Synthesis model.
Summary – to return to Janks, 2010.....
(Alford, 2013)
Domination with access allows the
exclusionary force of dominant
discourses to be challenged and
potentially dissipated.
Domination with diversity invites
contestation and change brought
about by alternative
Domination with design allows for
creative reconstruction based on an
understanding of power.
Access with domination provides a
view of texts and discourses as
reproducable but always invested
with power.
Evidence from this study at
Beacon High and Riverdale High
Certain texts were deconstructed in detail by Riva and Lucas e.g., YouTube documentaries and
media texts – to show how they are invested with power through semiotic choices.
All four teachers provide students with access to powerful education genres e.g., analytical
essays and investigative reports, and these genres were deconstructed functionally (Kalantzis &
Cope, 2012) but not critically to show how they reproduce and reinforce power. They remained
unquestioned/untransformed and the strict reproduction of them was assessed.
Margot at Beacon High: Following critical interrogation, students created their own thesis about
media portrayal of a particular group in society e.g., refugees or youth, and wrote an
investigative report. They drew on their own histories and perspectives to do so. Their own
languages and literacies however were not encouraged. Following set models was expected.
Celia at Beacon: Students examined a political speech for aspects of power and then chose their
own issue of ‘oppression’ and wrote a speech using their own histories and perspectives but
again following a set model in one mode- a written, persuasive speech.
Both teachers at Riverdale interrogated a YouTube documentary and students offered their own
diverse readings of it in order to construct a group practice essay. However, elements to be
covered in the essay were pre-set e.g., music, camera angles, language used.
Students gained an understanding of how power is exercised through semiotic choices in texts
but were not encouraged to redesign/transform the models in any way though the potential was
there in the Yr 12 political speech task (Celia).
There is a pervasive view among the 4 teachers that powerful genres e.g., analytical essays need
to be made explicit to CLD learners who are still mastering literacy in SAE. However, all
teachers and in particular Lucas indicates that this combination of orientations (access with
domination) can comfortably co-exist.
Some other powerful texts – online documentaries and TV and print media texts and some
discourses are challenged e.g., Disneyland commercialism; Scientific knowledge; racism;
The potential for Celia to do this more overtly was apparent in her lesson on the political
Affordances cont’d
(Alford, 2013)
Access with diversity recognises that
learners bring different histories,
identities and values to text production
Limited opportunity to bring different histories, identities and values to text production
is evident – except in Yr 11 at Riverdale analytical essay where Ss produced an essay in
a group each taking responsibility for a paragraph - one lesson. Students may or may not
have done so though, as the emphasis was clearly on re-producing the model. Riva used
some diverse multimodal texts recognising students’ own literacy practices.
Yr 12 Beacon: Students could bring their own history/experience of oppression to the
writing task by choosing the purpose and audience of the speech.
Access with design gives diverse
learners the chance to transform
dominant texts using multiple sign
Diversity with domination celebrates
difference but recognises that it is
structured in dominance and can be
The Yr 11 documentary task at Riverdale demonstrated how teachers can draw on
Diverse texts, such as Chinese scientific reports about pandas, but show how they, too,
are structured purposefully for certain effects and are open to contestation.
Diversity with access allows difference
to be brought into dominant language
Diversity with design realises the
potential diversity offers in
reconstructing texts.
Design with domination provides an
understanding of how dominant
practices are perpetuated and how they
can be transformed.
Design with access creates potential for
new forms to be accepted by/as
dominant practices
Design with diversity provides
opportunity to draw on difference as a
resource for design.
There was little scope for this as teachers concentrated on providing access to dominant
language forms (including KAL).
As Luke (2004) argues, in a normative application of discourse analysis, it is the
consequence of systems of representation that matters.
The consequence of the 4 teachers’ systems of representation is that their
EAL/D students have the opportunity to engage with particular orientations to
CL – Mostly Access and Domination and to a lesser extent Diversity and Design
and some critical aesthetic appreciation of text.
Opportunities exist to explore ways to include more Diversity and Design.
Poses the question of ‘does the status quo need this problem to be maintained?’
Not blaming the teachers! What if we really took Diversity and Design
Poses the need to explore critical aesthetics further to see how it might be
substantially woven into a critical synthesis model.
The 4 teachers’ commitment to KAL position them valuably to address a unique
aim of the national EAL/D senior syllabus: to develop in students “ the ability to
communicate ideas, feelings, attitudes and information appropriately in and
through SAE across the curriculum areas” (ACARA, 2012, p. 1).
Further investigation into how CL is constructed as an approach to teaching in
ACARA senior EAL/D syllabus and how this is enacted by teachers.
Particular time and place “consistent with the always partial state of
knowing in social research” (Glesne, 1999, p.
2 sites; 2 terms – limited generalisability;
 4 participants– scope;
 My own position as teacher educator and
researcher, and advocate for CL.
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