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Literacies for Learning in further education in England and Scotland Roz Ivani , Lancaster University

A key issue for 14 – 19 education is the development of communication and other skills. Decisions need to be made about whether to integrate the development of skills into the learning of subjects across the curriculum, and if so, how. The Literacies for Learning in Further Education (LfLFE) project is finding out how reading and writing enable and enhance learning in vocational and academic subjects in the further education curriculum, and is examining the resources which students bring with them to these courses from the reading and writing they do as part of their everyday lives. 14

Literacies in the context of everyday life

Literacy theory (Barton 1994; Barton and Hamilton 1998) shows how reading and writing are not just linguistic skills, but are used and learnt in the context of our day-to-day activities. The reading and writing that people do in the context of domestic life, leisure, work and social participation are very different from most reading and writing activities, exercises and tests in educational settings.

Outside formal education, reading and writing are often intertwined with one another. They are inseparable from the activities they are part of, are shaped by the purpose of the activity, and involve specific uses of time and space, discussions of texts, and tools and technologies. The texts which people read and write in their everyday lives come in many forms, ranging from glowing neon signs several square metres in dimension through a vast range of visual and linguistic communications on the internet, to tiny multilingual labels on toys or food. People read texts intensively or just in passing, with pleasure, excitement or anxiety, and in a multitude of different ways depending on their use for the activities in which the person is engaged.

For this reason, the plural ‘literacies’ is preferable to ‘literacy’, and has been adopted by adult and further education policy-makers in Scotland. One of the

14 A related TLRP project, led by Marilyn Martin-Jones, on the use and development of bilingual literacies as Welsh-speaking students participate in FE courses, has recently got under way. It will investigate the interaction between ‘informal’ vernacular literacy practices (reading, writing and uses of texts, in different languages and modalities, and involving different technologies) and bilingual practices entailed in the more ‘formal’ institutional settings of post-compulsory education. The main aims are to identify actual and potential ‘border’ literacies which are pivotal to learning in a digital age, and to incorporate these literacies into the design and implementation of a bilingual curriculum development project. The research is particularly timely since a strategic framework for the consolidation and extension of Welsh-medium and bilingual provision within the post-16 sector in Wales is currently being put in place. The findings will contribute directly to the development of

evidence-based policy and practice.


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