Thursday, November 19, 2009

Seminar Presentation: Langlit – Pedagogies

There are differences between referential and representational texts.
  • Referential texts e.g. transactional texts, from textbooks
  • Representational texts e.g. enable viewing creative, engaging

We need to show students the intertextuality and interconnectedness of language and text types.

Activity 1: Son of mine
  1. Give strips of poems in and get groups to order them
  2. Then get them to give a title
  3. Pick out positive and negative words – look for connotations, see the emotional shading of the words
  4. Why did you order it that way? What do you think the author was trying to do?
  5. Any words not placed in the usual way?
  6. Any words (e.g. adjectives) used in another way (e.g. nouns)?
  7. Any unusual compound structure? (e.g. “velvet-shine” – velvet: cloth, touch involved; shine: sight; “colour line”)
  8. Use of modals – language in use

Can also introduce elements of Literature – as soft as velvet-shine (simile), rhyme, personification (hatred blind)

Questions to ask: Purpose of the poem: Who is the author? Who is receiving the message?
Extension: What happened to the boy before the parent responded with this poem? Give Martin Luther’s speech.

Give Aunt Sue’s Stories. Ask them who is speaking? Which poem do they prefer? Why? 1st, 2nd or 3rd person perspective?

Activity 2: Listen to a song about love and ask them to pick out words related to love
Group the words

The little big story book: tall tales that made the news by Alison de Souza

Seminar Presentation: Langlit Approach – Text Selection

I am presenting the activities here as I had personally experienced it, so that you could have a sense of what I had gone through )

Activity 1
Which fictional character do you think best reflect you?
State one learner outcome you hope to achieve.

Question: Langlit and Language Arts – what’s the difference?
  • Langlit - one approach to English language teaching; aligned to the intent of the revised syllabus; skills (incremental and covers the breadth) and the assessment
  • Language Arts - infusing Literature and English Language together

To note that:
  1. Texts – inputs
  2. Speaking, Writing – outputs, expressions

Teaching of English Language through literature, focuses on the use of reading materials with imaginative content (engage and stimulate the reader’s imagination and communicate on more than one level, going beyond asking for and receiving information, for example, or everyday real-life situational use (McRae, 1991)

Langlit is about “milking” the text for all its worth!

Langlit focuses on the text and the language of the text – how texts mean, not what they mean

E.g. The Sick Rose by William Blake

O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm.

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

Language becomes the supporting evidence for the interpretation of the poem.
Look at the layers of meaning; or just the vocabulary items and its connotations, personification.

Activity 2
Look at the picture and write down any words that come to your mind.
2 different articles were then given → the responses were richer for one of the articles

Students could connect differently to the same text (if students are told to look for information, they would tend to go for the more scientific ones)

There is a difference between rich texts and rich use of texts – get them to read is only the start, “milk” the text before moving to something more demanding.

[Presenters will upload a lesson on edumall on the Langlit page; teachers can also send to CPDD for review]

Guidelines for selecting texts
1. Literary texts should be a primary source
2. Selected texts should build frames of reference
3. Literary texts should be juxtaposed against non-literary inclusions (different text types/forms/modes) for comparison
4. Explore multi-modal literary texts

E.g. The Uncertainty of a Poet by Wendy Cope [On phonology]

I am a poet
I am very fond of bananas
I am bananas
I am very fond of a poet
I am a poet of banana
I am very fond
A fond poet of ‘I am, I am’
Very bananas
Fond of ‘Am I bananas
Am I?’ – a very poet
Bananas of a poet!
Am I fond? Am I very?
Poet bananas I am
I am fond of a ‘very’
I am of very fond bananas
Am I a poet?

Interesting book: Tumasik – an anthropology on contemporary local poems (one teaching point - Names also tell stories)

Another interesting book: Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence (Nick Bantock)

Interesting video: The Lady and the Chocolate – youtube

Do use:
1. Linguistically rich literary texts as a primary source
2. Texts which build frames of reference (cultural awareness) [build it a little bit at a time]
3. A variety of non-literary texts for comparison
4. Multimodal texts

Other considerations
1. Relevance to learner outcomes
2. Interesting - hook
3. Potential for activities (stimulate response)
4. Appropriate length

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Seminar Presentation on Teaching in 3 Dimensions

I attended this presentation where the speaker used UbD in teaching advertisements. So very timely!

These are some of the learning points I gleaned:

Teaching with Multi-Media (MM) texts
• Integration of listening, reading, viewing, speaking and representing
• Stimulates creative and critical thinking
• Makes use of authentic, real world stimuli
• Opportunities for explicit teaching of knowledge about language
• Inexhaustible supply of free materials

MM texts are not new (e.g. hieroglyphics, The Wedding of the Arolfini, Illustrated books revolutionalised reading in the Victorian age)

Some interesting activities:
  1. What is the origin of the word “text”?
  2. Brainstorm – can you think of 10 kinds of multimodal texts in 60 seconds? E.g. Diagrams, advertisements, films, street signs, shop windows, music videos, comic books, webpages, maps, newspapers, t-shirts, bus advertisement (a person smoking – exhaust pipe; beer bottle on a container truck)
  3. Language of Advertising
    • Make a scrapbook large enough to hold full page advertisements in the centre and room to make notes in the margin around them
    • Ask them to collect several ads and find the one with the greatest number of features studied
    • Annotate the adverts showing up emotive appeals and unproven claims
Two interesting websites with many archived advertisements:

Some techniques used in advertisements are:


  • The appeal of glamour and luxury – needs few words
  • Snob appeal – the consumer will join the ranks of the elite by using the product
  • Appeal to celebrity or authority – depends on an endorsement by any well-known figure. Use of the product may make the consumer identify with the spokesperson – brevity, word choice
  • Ordinary people appeal – reverse snob appeal applied here. In these ads, the intent is to appeal to the average person
  • Peer appeal – feel the sense of security that comes from feeling we are the same as everyone else (Coke is the most asked-for soft drink in the world)

  • Scientific or statistical claim – some sort of scientific proof or experiments, to very specific numbers, or to an impressive-sounding mystery ingredient
  • Claims about the consumer (Mercedes specializes in the creation of individual cars, built to individual requirements…)
  • Compliment the consumer claim – Virginia Slims cigarettes (You’ve come a long way, baby!”
  • Rhetorical question claim – Are you missing out on TV fun?
  • Incomplete comparison claim
  • Weasel word claim – makes the products seem special or unique (Helps, natural, enriched) “So clean, it’s virtually spotless” – paraphrase this – what could it also mean?

One recommended reading was Vance Packard (The Hidden Persuaders, 1960).

Interesting advertisement: Kit Kat Advertisement – Mum Kangaroo pushing a pram (Geddit?)

Movie Stereotypes
  • Media (TV, film) often make use of stereotypes and more reverse stereotypes.
  • Are stereotypes bad? Where can we see such stereotypes?
  • Purpose and Audience of movie posters – how has time changed the medium? How has technology changed the look and feel? [e.g. Batman movie]
Interesting Activities:
  1. Show action movie posters from the east and the west – allusion, parody [mostly black and white and red; stern expressions, men holding a gun]
  2. Romantic movie posters [exotic setting, couple embracing or kissing, soft colours - tone] – activate the vocabulary they already know – get them to predict what kinds of posters they would see – patterns!
  3. Look at the poster (e.g. War of the Buttons), think about the purpose, the intended audience, and the overall impact of each element:
    • Audience appeal – subject, layout and text
    • Body language of the characters and mood
    • Camera, point of view
    • Text (what information or ideas are conveyed? What different styles of writing are used?)
    • Graphics (e.g. type face, logos)
    • Layout devices
  4. Talking movies
  • What are your first impressions of the film?
  • How are the characters presented?
  • What helps you identify the main characters? [heroes?]
  • How is interest/suspense created?
  • What does the music add to the effect?
  • What effects of the camera angles create? (e.g. close up, distance shots, low or high, point of view, one or two shots)
  • Whose side will you be on?
  • What were the characters wearing?

Reflection is...
  1. Realising that you have learnt something
  2. Knowing what you have done better or not

A rich text is one not based on the contents but also based on the teaching points that one can draw out from.


Using Rebirth of the Eagle to teach imagery.

Illustrating poetry requires
• An ability to understand form, meaning, tone and imagery
• An ability to find and evaluate pictures to make a good match using Google image search
• Ability to insert text using Word Art
• Performance skills

Possible Task: Poetry in 3D – use multimodal strategies to bring a poem to life (analyse imagery, illustrate scenes)

Keynote Address (Professor Kay O’Halloran from NUS)

O'Halloran's keynote touched on 21st century needs with an emphasis on teachers having the knowledge in the disciplines that come with their own theories. She reminded everyone about the rapid change in information and also disintegration of borders – global world, and the increasing use of interactive digital media.

She referred to the New London Group for the various modes and senses and I think it is apt also for everyone to take a look at it. Be warned that it is a long article published in 1996. These people were really visionary because what they thought of 13 years ago are still relevant today!

She then referred to Mr Obama’s use of new media in his campaign.

O'Halloran then went on to talk about a few kinds of literacies:
1. Notion of multiliteracies
2. Language Literacy, Visual Literacy, Information Literacy and Media Literacy
3. Useful approaches

I will not belabor her points here but go straight to the crux.

Language Literacy is the language to create meaning. She however asked us how powerful it is as a tool?

She then asked an essential question:
How to create those meaning (either spoken or written)?

In other words, we need to give students the metalanguage and help them to see the functions those word classes do [a system of systems].

Language is a functional resource – leads to understanding to grammar.

Another essential question:
What are the different meanings? {Experiential, Interpersonal, Textual}
How are they being conveyed? What modes could they take?

For that, we can refer to Suzanne’s Systemic Functional Linguistics.

Three Strata:
1. Meaning (not just about contents): allows us to share our experiences, assertions and desires across
2. Grammar & Vocabulary/Lexis
3. Sounds and Words (Images)

She urged all to attune students to choices of lexis to convey meaning or to elicit some responses; get them to see which has been chosen over others (this implies they should be aware of the various choices in which they can make).

Visual Literacy is visual representation of text and layout.

We need to be able to Access and Interpret meaning in images as they are resources for meanings.

There is grammar for images and words and a relationship between language and visual literacies - Iconic signs, symbolic signs, indexical signs.

Interesting example shown (this wall in this building that creates a 3-dimensional effect)

Systems and choices still relevant for this type of literacy; to become sensitive to the choices they have made; build a profile of what images are used for what contexts – how do we go about doing this?

Interaction between language and resources – will this deviate the reader/viewer from the intended message/meaning?

Information Literacy - We should get students to underline words, analyse choice of images/words – students must still have the metalanguage to talk about the interaction between print and non-print messages.