language mediates (barton, 2009)

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Language mediates (Barton, 2009). Language mediates our experience written texts can do this in a powerful way To mediate = to bring two things closer by means of a medium. Language as a medium (1). All experiences are mediated. We construct a view of reality. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Page 1: Language mediates  (Barton, 2009)
Page 2: Language mediates  (Barton, 2009)

Language mediates (Barton, 2009)

Language mediates our experience

• written texts can do this in a powerful way• To mediate = to bring two things closer by

means of a medium

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Language as a medium (1)

A. All experiences are mediated. B. We construct a view of reality.C. Language mediates our experiences.

(Language is one of the most important mediators of experience)

D. The view of language which we can construct internally is influenced by the language available

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Sign, signifier and signified

Page 6: Language mediates  (Barton, 2009)

Language as a medium (2)

• The words we use to name an experience provide a way of coding it, organizing it, and remembering it.

• Language mediates thought and it contains the metaphors* we live by (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980)

• Language is a medium for communication

• Language mediates what goes inside our heads and what goes on outside

*Conceptual metaphors as means for constructing reality is the theme of unit 7

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Language as a medium (3)

• An other person making sense of, describing, interpreting an event or an experience is mediating that experience for us

• Storytellers, priests, advertisers, actors, politicians, your partner, your kid, your mother, your boss etc… all mediate our experience when they tell us something, offering a structure, a away of making sense of reality

• Each is offering particular possibilities for taking meaning from an event

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Mediating experience in interaction

Page 9: Language mediates  (Barton, 2009)

Meaning-making process

Negogiation of meaning

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This is inevitable:

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Written word*• Okay, let’s continue approaching the written

word in this light:• What is written for e.g. in novels, textbooks

and newspapers also mediate our experience in a powerful way

• This in combination with other media such as film and TV invoke other senses with sound, graphics and colors, the mediation becomes much greater!

*We will focus on the mediation of experience of other media, such as film and visual in unit 9

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“ Words are flying out like endless rain into a paper cup They slither while they pass They slip away across the universe Pools of sorrow waves of joy are drifting thorough my open mind Possessing and caressing me”

Extracted from the song “Across the Universe” by The Beatles

Page 13: Language mediates  (Barton, 2009)

I started early...took my dog• By Emily Dickinson

Animated poem read by Blair Brown


Page 14: Language mediates  (Barton, 2009)

Be constantly aware of mediation:

• It is important not to lose sight of the active nature of mediation!

• It is not so much language which mediates as people using language who mediate

• E.g. in schools textbooks are mediators of experience, but teacher mediate the textbooks

• complex layers of mediation and (multiple) interpretation

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To summarize: Language mediates

1. All our experience is mediated, nothing is direct, and language is a central form of mediation

2. People can mediate our experience by the way they structure reality for us in social interactions – The ideas they stand for, their intentions, their own

experiences and how they ‘see’ the world influence how they mediate (compose) this reality they want to share

3. Texts, whether they are books, films or advertisement mediate our experience

Page 16: Language mediates  (Barton, 2009)

16Taking a critical stance:

Critical Literacy

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Learning to read the world while learning to read the word


Although there are several approaches to critical literacy, each underpinned by different theoretical perspectives , they all have in common that:

{Critical Literacy}

CL involves an active, challenging approach to reading and textual practices. CL involves the analysis and critique of the relationship among texts, language, power, social groups and social practices

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What is CL?

• CL shows us ways of looking at written, visual, spoken, multimedia and performance texts to question and challenge the attitudes, values and beliefs that lie beneath the surface

• Literacy is as much about ideologies, identities, and values as it is about codes and skills. CL provides us with ways of thinking that uncover social inequalities and injustices. It enables us to address disadvantage and become agents of social change (Gregory and Cahill, 2009) 18

Page 19: Language mediates  (Barton, 2009)

CL attempts to develop 3 kinds of understanding (Morgan, 1996)

1. The way texts (and visuals etc. approach broad) and their discourses work to represent reality and define what is necessary for us;

2. A sympathetic understanding of the people who are affected (shaped) by those discourses; (voice, voiceless, representation)

3. Ways we can engage with those texts and their debates4. Questioning texts, reflecting, taking a stance from the

position of the passive reader to the position of the active reader Negotiation of meaning, interpretation and identities! 19

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CL includes (1):• Examining meaning within texts• Considering the purpose for the text and the composer’s motives• Texts are not neutral, they represent particular views, silence

other points of views and influence people’s ideas• Questioning and challenging the ways texts have been

constructed• Analyzing the power of language in contemporary society• Emphasizing multiple readings of texts (because people interpret

texts in the light of their own believes and values, texts will have different meanings to different people) Kaleidoscope!


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CL includes (2)

• Having ‘you’ take a stance on issues• Providing ‘you’ with opportunities to consider

and clarify your own attitudes and values:{ being aware of different perspectives reflection negotiation of identities: who am I, do I agree? (metaphor of room)}

• Providing ‘you’ with opportunities to take social action (e.x. writing a letter of complaint)


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Why is CL important?

• Our lifestyles are changing constantly, hi-tech, globalized world (boundaries of space and time are dissolving)

• Changing societal structures• Cultural diversity• Marketing of ideas• Lifelong learning


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Rejecting the tension (1)(Gregory & Cahill, 2009)

• The authors question the role schools (formal education in terms of curriculum and methods) play on the development of students as active citizens. Schools have the potential to be places where students can come to understand how and why knowledge and power are constructed

• Critical perspective: Inspired by Paulo Freire (1921-1997: Brazilian educational reformer) (you can read more about Freire on the wiki)

• In Freirian terms CL involves “ reading the world” so that we can come to understand how we encode power structures and the roles we play in these processes (Freire & Mancedo, 1987)


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Paulo Freire (1921-1997)


“ Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”

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Rejecting the tension (2)(Gregory & Cahill, 2009)

• Emancipatory literacy: the notion that literate individuals are able to function independently and flexible in society (survive)

• Citizenship in a democracy (Dewey’s view of democracy 1916)

• “Children become literate at school” : “literacy is and must always be ideologically situated* (…) qualified by the context of assumptions, beliefs, expectations, and related conceptual material that accompanies its use by particular groups of people in particular socio-historical circumstances” 25

*We will address the theme of ideologies in unit 6

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Adopting a critical stance (1)(Gregory & Cahill, 2009)

• Questioning texts problematizing knowledge• Do you for instance question the media you consume here in

Aruba ?• Engaging in such a problematization creates tension. You’re world

is shaking: you are aware that reality is something constructed• You can choose to reject the tension and not begin a critical

questioning process schooling, passive agency. • This can be motivated by fear: ‘fear for the unknown’ or ‘fear for

reprisals (groups you belong to, want to belong to; social identity, questioning your own identity.

• If you decide to contend with the tension, then a critical stance is necessary(democracy) education 27

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Adopting a critical stance (2)(Gregory & Cahill, 2009)

• We accept the tension! Tension is ‘growing’, being active

• Critical stance: you read the world, not only the words/pictures/actions/sounds/etc. A text is seen here as a “ vehicle through which individuals communicate with one another using the codes and conventions of society” with a purpose!

• Examples: songs, novels, conversations, movies, art, photographs (all forms of communication are considered to be texts) 29

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Taking a critical stand

What kind of critical questions would you ask?

Work in pairs and formulate critical questions.


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Examples of critical questions• Textual purpose• Textual structures and features• Construction of characters• Gaps and silence• Power and interest• Whose view: whose reality?• Interrogating the composer• Multiple meanings

• (I will post of list of critical questions on our wiki) 32