n Education as Change - CSL, multiliteracies, and multimodalities

Volume 11, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1682-3206
  • E-ISSN: 1947-9417
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This paper reflects on a research project aimed at assessing student learning in a Community Service Learning (CSL) project. A group of 50 student teachers in a Language Teaching programme in the Faculty of Education at the University of Johannesburg were required to offer their 'language' services to community organisations, in particular, their writing skills as a form of service. Apart from the writing they did for and with the community, the students also wrote about the community as part of the Due Performance requirements of their Language Teaching programme. While offering their services, these students generated a wealth of multimodal texts and artifacts, ranging from posters, flyers, and advertisements, to educational supplements and brochures. Positioning the research in the theoretical frameworks of Service Learning theory and the Multiliteracies Project of the New London Group the aim of the project was to assess the learning these students had done as a consequence of their Community Service. I argue that this type of service augments student teachers' academic literacies by developing their social literacies about the communities they will service in their capacities as teaching professionals, becoming truly 'multiliterate' in the process. I also argue that CSL enables student teachers to understand language education in general, and writing instruction in particular in a new way. The major finding from a Critical Discourse Analysis of the verbal and visual texts and artifacts these students generated, reveals that although student language teachers are confronted with new writing genres in the communitiesand new ways of assessing successful writing in these contexts, they clearly saw the need for social action in communities as well as the need for social critique of community work.

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