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Multimodal identity texts : pictures of engagement for adult immigrant language learners Bonham, Susan 2013

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MULTIMODAL IDENTITY TEXTS: PICTURES OF ENGAGEMENT FOR ADULT IMMIGRANT LANGUAGE LEARNERS  by SUSAN BONHAM B.A., University of British Columbia, 1991  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLIMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Teaching English as a Second Language) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  June 2013  © Susan Bonham, 2013  ii Abstract Studies with K-12 learners have identified benefits for language and content learning when students engage in multimodal pedagogical tasks that access students’ resources for learning, but few studies have examined how a multimodal pedagogical approach might benefit adult learners in non-academic contexts. This action research study was undertaken in a government-funded English language class for adult immigrants. It investigated, from student and teacher/researcher perspectives, the opportunities and challenges of a multimodal pedagogical approach for integrated content and language learning, as well as the level of students’ investment in the unit of learning. Theoretical frameworks that informed this research project included Norton and colleagues’ concepts of identity and investment, imagined communities (Anderson, 1991) and imagined identities, new literacies theory, Kress’s theory of multimodality, and the New London Group’s theoretical overview of a pedagogy of multiliteracies. Data were collected during a unit of study on the education system in Canada and consist of observations, focus group interviews, teacher and student reflection journals, and students’ projects. Data were coded using ATLAS.ti and analyzed iteratively to identify emergent themes. Both student and teacher perspectives were that the multimodal pedagogical approach enabled students’ meaning making in ways that supported longer-term learning and development of language beyond expectations for the officially designated level of the class. Participants were very invested in the topic, and the affordances of the multimodal project supported this investment by allowing them to make meaning in multiple modes, including but not limited to linguistic modes. Themes identified in the data include: exploration of identity issues, opportunities to design with their children, importance of authentic communicative experiences,  iii accessing prior knowledge to learn, unique characteristics and needs of adult learners, and importance of the student-teacher relationship. Tentative implications are drawn for policy, practice, and further research.  iv Preface This research and resulting thesis were undertaken with the approval of UBC’s Behavioural Research Ethics Board, under Certificate Number H12-00446.  v Table of Contents Abstract ........................................................................................................................................... ii Preface ........................................................................................................................................... iv Table of Contents ............................................................................................................................ v List of Tables ................................................................................................................................. ix List of Figures ................................................................................................................................. x Acknowledgements ........................................................................................................................ xi Dedication ..................................................................................................................................... xii 1  Introduction & Objectives ........................................................................................................ 1 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6  2  Theoretical Perspectives and Literature Review ...................................................................... 8 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8  3  Introduction................................................................................................................................... 1 Language Programs for Adult Immigrant Learners ................................................................ 2 What Pedagogical Orientations are Effective? .......................................................................... 3 Multimodal Identity Texts: Accessing Adult ESL Learners’ Vast Resources ........................ 4 Research Questions ....................................................................................................................... 5 Overview of the Thesis ................................................................................................................. 6 Introduction................................................................................................................................... 8 Canadian Adult Immigrant ESL ................................................................................................. 8 Research in Adult ESL ................................................................................................................. 9 Identity, Imagined Communities and Language Learning .................................................... 10 New Literacy Studies (NLS) ...................................................................................................... 18 Social Semiotics ........................................................................................................................... 24 Multimodality .............................................................................................................................. 29 Conclusion ................................................................................................................................... 35  Methodology, Data Sources, and Data Analysis .................................................................... 36 3.1 Introduction................................................................................................................................. 36 3.2 Research Site ............................................................................................................................... 36 3.3 Participants/Students ................................................................................................................. 37 3.4 Teacher/Researcher and Positionality ...................................................................................... 40 3.5 Additional Classroom Contributors ......................................................................................... 42 3.6 Ethical Considerations ............................................................................................................... 43 3.7 Procedures ................................................................................................................................... 43 3.8 Research Questions ..................................................................................................................... 46 3.9 Data Collection ............................................................................................................................ 47 3.10 Data Analysis ............................................................................................................................ 49 3.10.1 Alternate Methods of Data Collection and Data Analysis .................................................. 52 3.11 Trustworthiness ........................................................................................................................ 53 3.12 Timeline ..................................................................................................................................... 54  4  The View From Within: Participants’ Perspectives ............................................................... 55 4.1 The Affordances of Multimodal Meaning-Making ................................................................. 56 4.1.1 Students’ Views on Designing Their Projects ....................................................................... 56 4.1.2 Visuals ................................................................................................................................... 61 4.1.3 Key Points .............................................................................................................................. 64 4.2 Other Benefits of Multimodal Learning Tasks ........................................................................ 65 4.2.1 Thinking Versus Rote Learning............................................................................................. 65 4.2.2 Design and Organization of Information ............................................................................... 67 4.2.3 Agency to Shape Multimodal Learning Tasks ...................................................................... 69  vi 4.2.4 Taking Ownership of Learning .............................................................................................. 72 4.2.5 Designing With Children ....................................................................................................... 73 4.2.6 Key Points .............................................................................................................................. 75 4.3 The Authentic Communicative Experience of Sharing Publicly ............................................ 76 4.3.1 Key Points .............................................................................................................................. 77 4.4 Identity/Texts .............................................................................................................................. 78 4.4.1 Personal Sacrifices for Children’s Education – Identities Beyond “Mother” ....................... 79 4.4.2 Key Points .............................................................................................................................. 84 4.5 Investment ................................................................................................................................... 84 4.5.1 The Time Challenge of Invested Students ............................................................................. 86 4.5.2 Key Points .............................................................................................................................. 87 4.6 Accessing Prior Knowledge to Learn ........................................................................................ 87 4.6.1 Prior Knowledge as a Diverse Tool for Learning .................................................................. 88 4.6.2 Valuing Knowledge and Experience to Support Critical Thinking ....................................... 90 4.6.3 Key Points .............................................................................................................................. 91 4.7 Counter-Examples ...................................................................................................................... 92 4.7.1 Key Points .............................................................................................................................. 94 4.8 Summary ..................................................................................................................................... 94  5  Teacher Observations ............................................................................................................. 96 5.1 The Research Tasks .................................................................................................................... 97 5.1.1 Research Task #1: A Crash Course on the Approach to Education in Canada ..................... 97 5.1.2 Research Task #2: An Exploration of Previous Learning Experiences ................................. 98 5.1.3 Research Task #3: A Critical Reflection on Life and Education in Canada ......................... 99 5.1.4 Research Task #4: Putting It All Together in an Identity Text............................................ 100 5.1.5 Design of Multimodal Learning Tasks and Personal Nature of the Assignments ............... 101 5.1.6 Key Points ............................................................................................................................ 103 5.2 The Topic of Education in Canada ......................................................................................... 103 5.2.1 Present Needs: Understanding Children’s Education .......................................................... 104 5.2.2 Understanding the Canadian Education System .................................................................. 109 5.2.3 Worries About Reductive Bilingualism............................................................................... 112 5.2.4 Background Knowledge ...................................................................................................... 113 5.2.5 Choice in Personal Revelations: Highly Personal to Highly Impersonal ............................ 117 5.2.6 Education and Imagined Futures ......................................................................................... 118 5.2.7 Language Development ....................................................................................................... 119 5.2.8 Key Points ............................................................................................................................ 121 5.3 Investment and Identity ........................................................................................................... 122 5.3.1 Multiple Identities ................................................................................................................ 124 5.3.2 Positive Reinforcement of Learner Identities ...................................................................... 128 5.3.3 The Authentic Communicative Experience of Sharing Publicly – Teacher’s Perspective . 128 5.3.4 Mothers and Children .......................................................................................................... 129 5.3.5 Key Points ............................................................................................................................ 130 5.4 The Unique Characteristics of Adult Learners...................................................................... 131 5.4.1 Levels of Skills .................................................................................................................... 131 5.4.2 Examining Learning Processes ............................................................................................ 132 5.4.3 Multimodal Projects............................................................................................................. 133 5.4.4 A Community of Learners ................................................................................................... 133 5.4.5 Perfectionism ....................................................................................................................... 134 5.4.6 Key Points ............................................................................................................................ 136 5.5 The Student-Teacher Relationship ......................................................................................... 137 5.5.1 The Student-Teacher Relationship Outside of the Study Classroom .................................. 137 5.5.2 The Teacher-Student Relationship in This Study ................................................................ 140  vii 5.5.3 Key Points ............................................................................................................................ 142 5.6 Summary ................................................................................................................................... 143  6  Emerging Understandings and Implications......................................................................... 145 6.1 Emerging Understandings Framed in Relation to Existing Research ................................. 146 6.1.1 Affordances for Meaning-Making ....................................................................................... 147 6.1.2 The Benefits of ‘Thinking’ .................................................................................................. 148 6.1.3 Agency ................................................................................................................................. 148 6.1.4 Self-Directed Learning That Is Relevant to Students’ Lives ............................................... 150 6.1.5 Working With Children ....................................................................................................... 151 6.1.6 The Authentic Communicative Experience of Sharing Publicly ......................................... 152 6.1.7 Identity Texts ....................................................................................................................... 153 6.1.8 Investment............................................................................................................................ 155 6.1.9 Accessing Prior Knowledge as a Resource for Learning .................................................... 157 6.1.10 Critical Thinking ............................................................................................................... 158 6.1.11 The Topic of Education in Canada .................................................................................... 159 6.1.12 The Unique Characteristics of Adult Learners .................................................................. 160 6.1.13 Competing Responsibilities ............................................................................................... 161 6.1.14 A Community of Learners ................................................................................................. 162 6.1.15 The Student-Teacher Relationship .................................................................................... 163 6.2 Pedagogical Implications.......................................................................................................... 165 6.2.1 Agency ................................................................................................................................. 166 6.2.2 Learner Identities ................................................................................................................. 167 6.2.3 Imagined Communities and Futures .................................................................................... 168 6.2.4 Learning as Social Practice .................................................................................................. 169 6.2.5 The Student-Teacher Relationship ...................................................................................... 170 6.2.6 Balancing Institutional Ideology With Respect for Students’ Beliefs ................................. 172 6.2.7 Social Practice and Beliefs: Sensitivity ............................................................................... 173 6.2.8 Harnessing Prior Knowledge for Learning .......................................................................... 173 6.2.9 The Importance of Creativity and Fun................................................................................. 174 6.2.10 Curriculum Design and Assessment .................................................................................. 175 6.3 Implications for Future Research ........................................................................................... 175 6.3.1 Identifying Individual Factors ............................................................................................. 176 6.3.2 Avoiding Weaker Skills ....................................................................................................... 176 6.3.3 Overinvestment .................................................................................................................... 177 6.3.4 Working With Children ....................................................................................................... 177 6.3.5 Explicit Teaching of Critical Thinking and Social Semiotics ............................................. 178 6.4 Scope and Limitations .............................................................................................................. 178 6.5 Concluding Remarks ................................................................................................................ 179  References ................................................................................................................................... 182 Appendix A: Invitation ............................................................................................................... 192 Appendix B: Consent Form ........................................................................................................ 194 Appendix C: Chinese Translation of Consent Form ................................................................... 198 Appendix D: Farsi Translation of Consent Form ....................................................................... 202 Appendix E: Japanese Translation of Consent Form.................................................................. 206 Appendix F: Consent to Attribution Form .................................................................................. 210  viii List of Tables Table 3-1: Summary of Participants ............................................................................................. 38	
   Table 3-2: Summary of Data Collection Methods ........................................................................ 48	
   Table 3-3: Summary of Data Formats .......................................................................................... 50	
   Table 5-1: Summary of Format and Subjects of Students’ Identity Text Projects ..................... 101	
    ix List of Figures Figure 2-1: Interrelation Between Mode, Material, and the Human Body ................................... 33	
   Figure 3-1: Embodied Learning: Being Dragged Around in Movement Class ............................ 40	
   Figure 3-2: Venn Diagram for Research Task #1 ......................................................................... 44	
   Figure 3-3: Word Web for Research Task #2 ............................................................................... 45	
   Figure 3-4: Graphic Organizer for Research Task #3 ................................................................... 45	
   Figure 3-5: Writing Stage of Data Analysis ................................................................................. 52	
   Figure 4-1: Elaine’s Venn Diagram of Differences in Education Systems .................................. 57	
   Figure 4-2: Frances’s Graphic Organizer of the Decision to Move to Canada ............................ 58	
   Figure 4-3: Sara’s Birds: Students Who Have Wings But Can or Cannot Fly ............................ 63	
   Figure 4-4: Aymie and Frances’s Word Webs About Former Teachers ...................................... 69	
   Figure 4-5: Sara’s Visually Dominated Identity Text................................................................... 71	
   Figure 4-6: Part of Aymie’s Identity Text in a First Culture Format............................................ 82	
   Figure 4-7: Linda’s Venn Diagram Comparing Education Systems ............................................ 88	
   Figure 4-8 Wendy’s Graphic Organizer of the Decision to Move to Canada .............................. 91	
   Figure 5-1: Excerpt From Elaine’s Identity Text: Her Daughter’s Education and the Decision to Move to Canada .................................................................................................................. 104	
   Figure 5-2: Excerpts From Research Task #3: Education as a Factor in Immigration ............... 106	
   Figure 5-3: Wendy’s Identity Text: Her Daughter’s Education in the Past. ............................... 107	
   Figure 5-4: Andrea’s Identity Text: Her Daughter’s Past Education and the Decision to Move to Canada................................................................................................................................. 107	
   Figure 5-5: Linda and Elaine’s Venn Diagrams Comparing Education Systems ....................... 110	
   Figure 5-6: Aymie’s Identity Text: Concerns About Her Children Learning and Retaining Their Heritage Language .............................................................................................................. 112	
   Figure 5-7: Sharon’s Venn Diagram Comparing Education Systems ........................................ 115	
   Figure 5-8: Sharon’s Identity Text – Writing Beyond CLB 3 .................................................... 117	
   Figure 5-9: Level of Personal Content in Multimodal Projects .................................................. 117	
   Figure 5-10: English and the Future ........................................................................................... 119	
   Figure 5-11: Andrea, Sharon, and Elaine’s Use of Transitions, Conjunctions, and Comparatives ............................................................................................................................................. 120	
   Figure 5-12: Interrelationship Between Identity, Topic, and Investment During the Education Unit ..................................................................................................................................... 122	
   Figure 5-13: Excerpts From Research Task #3 and #4 Showing Students’ Commitment to Their Children’s Education .......................................................................................................... 124	
   Figure 5-14: Frances’s Word Web of a Teacher From Her Past ................................................ 138	
   Figure 5-15: Aymie’s Word Web About a Teacher From Her Past ........................................... 139	
   Figure 5-16: Elaine’s Word Web About a Teacher From Her Past ............................................ 139	
   Figure 6-1: Sara’s Visually Dominated and Sharon’s Linguistically Dominated Projects ........ 150	
    x Acknowledgements This research study would not have been possible without the enthusiastic involvement of the participating students and the support of the non-profit immigrant services organization that hosted the study. The contributions of Sammi Yang, Laura Fauman, and Mary Jo Curry during the period of data collection are all greatly appreciated. My committee have my endless gratitude. Dr. Margaret Early has been a bottomless source of guidance and support. Her knowledge and expertise has been the pillar on which I have built this study; her own research has been an inspiration. Dr. Steven Talmy has been a great mentor in the areas of second language acquisition and, particularly, TESL theories. He has often pushed me to reach my potential. Dr. Lee Gunderson has taught me much about K-12 language learners that has enriched my ability to help my adult learners navigate their children’s educational journeys. He has also taught me much about research methodology. All three committee members have been incredibly generous with both time and encouragement. My fellow grad students during my time in LLED made this adventure so much richer. Thanks for all the challenging discussions and support of this research project. The assistance of Chenyu Shen, Shiho Minami, and Mehri Mohammadian was greatly appreciated. Thanks to my family for their belief in my abilities: my devoted mother, Helen, my stepmother, Ann, my sisters, Lynn and Nancy, my brother, Tim, my brothers-in-law Steve and Dave, and my father, Gerald, who missed seeing me complete my thesis by a few months but who had faith in my abilities. Gail Kingwell guided me towards UBC’s LLED department, which I have been very thankful for, and has been available for countless discussions about theory and practice over the last three years. I am so honoured to have become a part of her family. Many brilliant friends have been sources of feedback and encouragement throughout this project for which I am extremely appreciative: Patricia Steiner, Loretta Linneberg, Liza Wajong, Sally Stubbs, Sharon Wahl, Andrea Joseph, Lesley Esford, and Rachel Stenberg. The biggest thank you goes to my beloved daughter, Maja. This research project impacted her life more than anyone’s, but she was endlessly generous in her support and encouragement. Thank you to the Language and Literacy Education Department of UBC for being such an amazing learning environment and for supporting me with a scholarship during my studies.  xi To my daughter, Maja.  1  1 1.1  Introduction & Objectives  Introduction Many students in Canada’s government-funded language programs, such as English  Language Services for Adults (ELSA) and Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC), are well educated and professionally experienced with extended resources for learning. Studies with K-12 learners have identified benefits for language and content learning when students engage in multimodal pedagogical tasks that access students’ resources for learning, but few studies have examined how a multimodal pedagogical approach might benefit adult learners in non-academic contexts such as ELSA and LINC. This action research study was undertaken in an ELSA Level 3 (Canadian Language Benchmark Level 3) class and investigated, from student and teacher/researcher perspectives, the opportunities and challenges of a multimodal pedagogical approach for integrated content and language learning, as well as the level of students’ investment in the unit of learning. During the five-week study, students created four multimodal projects as part of a unit of curricular study on the education system in Canada. Both student and teacher perspectives were that the multimodal pedagogical approach enabled students’ meaning making in ways that supported longer-term learning and development of language beyond expectations for the officially designated level of the class. Participants were invested in the topic, and the affordances of the multimodal project supported this investment by allowing them to make meaning in multiple modes of their choosing, including but not limited to linguistic modes. A number of themes were identified in the data and include: exploration of identity issues, opportunities to design with their children, the importance of authentic communicative experiences, accessing prior knowledge to learn, the unique characteristics and needs of adult  2 learners, and the importance of the student-teacher relationship. The emerging understandings will speak to several issues relating to practice and suggestions for further research. 1.2  Language Programs for Adult Immigrant Learners Language programs for newcomers to Canada provide instruction for tens of thousands of  students each year. In most areas of Canada, these programs are titled Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC) but in British Columbia the comparable program is called English Language Services for Adults (ELSA)1. Federal government statistics indicate that of the over 37,000 new immigrants who moved to Vancouver in 2010, 40% self-reported that they spoke neither English nor French upon arrival (Citizenship and Immigration, 2010), which indicates a significant need for language programs. Although statistics are not available for specific regions of the province, the WelcomeBC Settlement and Integration Services Annual Report for 2011-2012 states that over 20,0000 immigrants were enrolled in government-funded ELSA programs throughout the province of British Columbia during the most recent reporting period (Government of British Columbia, 2012, p. 4) at a cost of $57.9 million. ELSA programs are free to students and offer language instruction with settlement content for all permanent residents who are 17-years and older and who arrive in Canada with pre-literacy to intermediate English language skills (Government of British Columbia, 2009). Students are allotted hours of instruction based on their assessed level of English upon entry to the program, with more hours allotted to students with lower levels of English; however, if they do not achieve benchmark scores high enough to advance to the next level of instruction by the time their hours have expired, they must exit the program. It is noted that ELSA language levels  1  This will be changing as of March 2014 when all federally funded language programs will become part of the LINC program.  3 correlate to the Canadian Language Benchmarks2 (i.e. ELSA Level 3 denotes an assessed overall language ability upon intake of CLB 3). 1.3  What Pedagogical Orientations are Effective? Despite government reports about ELSA’s effectiveness (e.g. WelcomeBC Settlement  and Integration Services’ 2011-2012 Annual Report, Government of British Columbia, 2012), there is a significant lack of scholarly inquiry into adult immigrant non-academic language programs. Calls have gone out for research into non-academic adult language learning (e.g. Mathews-Aydinli, 2008), as well as arguments made for the importance of language learning to settlement in Canadian society (e.g. Fleming, 2007; Norton, 2000), but the majority of studies with immigrant learners in Canada in the area of multiliteracies pedagogies and using “funds of knowledge” (Moll et al., 1992) for classroom learning continue to be in kindergarten to Grade 12 contexts (e.g. Cummins & Early, 2011; Early & Marshall, 2008; Giampapa, 2010; Gunderson 2000, 2007; Hibbert, 2009; Lotherington, 2007; Marshall & Toohey, 2010). Further and importantly, Houle and Schellenberg in a research paper for Statistics Canada reported that according to the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC), “positive assessments of life in Canada are less prevalent among immigrants admitted through the skilled worker category, among university degree holders, and among persons aged 35 to 54” (2010, p. 29, emphasis added), a significant finding considering that in 2010, for example, 69.3% of immigrants entered Canada under the “Economic” category (Government of Canada, 2011), many of whom are well-educated. Since a substantial number of students in ELSA Levels 1 and 2 (assessed CLB levels of 1 and 2), and the majority of students in Level 3-5 (CLB 3-5), are both university graduates and aged 35 to 54, it would seem that research into language and settlement  2  For more information on Canadian Language Benchmark levels, see http://www.language.ca.  4 programs is not only warranted, but critical. It is impossible to claim that language programs are the most important factor in whether or not an immigrant is happy in Canada, but there is anecdotal evidence that language programs can be hugely instrumental in easing settlement challenges. Research needs to be undertaken to examine how adults with strong educational backgrounds might be better served by these programs – both in terms of language development itself and in addressing some of the identity issues that arise from the immigration experience. 1.4  Multimodal Identity Texts: Accessing Adult ESL Learners’ Vast Resources The majority of adult immigrant ESL students who graduate to or enter at ELSA Level 3  (assessed overall level of intake of CLB 3; ‘high beginner’), have arrived in Canada with strong educational and professional backgrounds; in my experience, which has been corroborated by colleagues, it is rare for a student with less than twelve years of education to achieve reading and writing scores that qualify them to advance to Level 3. ELSA 3 students, despite having considerable knowledge and experience, however, too frequently report, in classes I have taught over the years, being treated as deficient outside of the classroom through lack of English proficiency and, as a result, are overcome by feelings of inadequacy soon after entry to Canada. The change from being competent and respected members of their home society where they possessed vast amounts of linguistic and social capital to being treated as deficient and disrespected members lacking linguistic and social capital, if not always economic capital, in their newly adopted society is jarring and may go some way to explain the dissatisfaction and negative assessment of life in Canada reported by Houle and Schellenberg above. In K-12 settings, research into multimodal and multilingual pedagogical approaches seems to indicate that there can be great benefits to positive identity affirmation, investment in learning, and second/additional language acquisition when learners are able to engage in  5 activities which allow first languages and the students’ preferred semiotic modes to be resources for learning (Early & Marshall, 2008; Giampapa, 2010; Hibbert, 2009; Lotherington, 2007). Similar research, however, is lacking with adult immigrant language learners. Since the participants in this study were adults who are highly literate in their first language and could be said to have extensive resources for learning, this study investigated whether a multimodal project was similarly successful at accessing these resources as has been demonstrated through research in K-12 settings, or, conversely, if the extensive educational and, often, professional backgrounds of these adults disposed them to prefer linguistic modes over other semiotic modes. 1.5  Research Questions Given the context of an ELSA Level 3 class in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia,  the following research questions are posed specifically in connection with these learners: 1)  In relation to a unit of work on Canada’s education system, what are students’ perspectives of some of the opportunities and challenges of a multimodal pedagogical approach, both in terms of content and second language learning?  2)  What level of investment do the students say that they felt in the multimodal project, both in terms of their investment in the content and in the affordances of the use of multiple modes, and how did they think their investment, or lack of investment, affected both content and language learning?  3)  What are the teacher’s (researcher’s) perspectives on the multimodal learning tasks, as designed and as implemented, and how those multimodal tasks enabled, or hindered, students’ meaning-making in their content learning and English language development?  4)  What are the teacher’s (researcher’s) perspectives on how invested the students were in the multimodal identity text project in terms of the content/topic and the affordances of  6 being able to use different modes of meaning-making to enable their second language learning? 1.6  Overview of the Thesis Chapter 2 of this thesis is the literature review. First, the research context of adult  immigrant language programs, including government-funded language programs, is described. Next, the four theoretical frameworks which are central to this study will be surveyed, specifically: (1) identity and language learning; (2) New Literacy Studies; (3) social semiotics; and (4) multimodality. Chapter 3 provides details about data collection, as well as a description of the different types of data collected. It also describes the students in general terms, such that they are not individually identifiable, and gives relevant biographical background about myself, the teacher/researcher. Finally, details are provided as to how the data for this study were analyzed to identify emergent themes. Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 discuss the themes that were identified in the data. Chapter 4 presents student-generated data, including excerpts from focus group interviews and individual student’s journal entries. Chapter 5 presents the teacher’s observation and reflection data, in the form of excerpts from the teacher’s log/reflection journal. Both chapters use examples of the students’ multimodal projects as an additional data source. Chapter 6, the final chapter, is a discussion of the emerging understandings and implications of this study. Key discussion points from this study are summarized and linked to the existing literature in this field of research. Further, some of the emerging understandings for theory, pedagogy and practice are discussed. Finally, because research into multimodal pedagogical approaches with educated adult learners in non-academic ESL contexts is a research  7 gap, implications for further research are included.  8  2 2.1  Theoretical Perspectives and Literature Review  Introduction Influential theoretical frameworks for this multimodal research project include studies in  identity, imagined communities and language learning, New Literacy Studies, and social semiotics, as well as multimodality, which grew out of social semiotics. Research of similar design has been conducted in kindergarten through Grade 12 settings (K-12) (Cummins & Early, 2011; Early & Marshall, 2008; Giampapa, 2010; Hibbert, 2009; Lotherington, 2007), investigating whether a multimodal/multilingual pedagogical approach can facilitate students to access the resources which they bring from outside the classroom in order to support classroom learning. Such student resources are themselves multilingual (e.g. languages or dialects other than the language of education) and/or multimodal (e.g. knowledge of music, dance, performance, visual arts, etc.) These earlier studies share many of the same theoretical influences as this study, although they were conducted in different educational contexts, which could have significant implications for design and emerging understandings. 2.2  Canadian Adult Immigrant ESL “Language learning for entry into the sites of (re)settlement is a primary factor in the ability to re-engage and participate as fully as possible within the political, social, educational, and environmental life of the society” (Burns & Roberts, 2010, p. 409).  This study will be undertaken in a non-academic, government-funded English Language Services for Adults (ELSA) classroom. The Government of British Columbia’s goal with all settlement programs, including ELSA, is to assist immigrants to “acquire the knowledge, skills and experience to be able to fully participate in Canada’s society and economy” (Government of British Columbia, 2011, p. 7). The ELSA curriculum is accordingly designed to educate new residents on issues of employment, health, education systems, and other “settlement topics”,  9 knowledge of which lessens the burden on Canadian social systems and economy. Identity issues, however, are not addressed explicitly in the ELSA curriculum, despite the fact that many immigrants report being “marginalized by the NS [native speaker] group for imperfect mastery of the target language” (Cervatiuc, 2009, p. 14), which seems to have a negative impact on many immigrants’ identities (Norton, 2000; Skilton-Sylvester, 2002). In a critique of Canada’s language programs for immigrants, especially in the context of Canada’s continuing economic and social dependence on immigration, Fleming argues that language programs “play a crucial role in identity formation” (2007, p. 186), however, “the ability of these [immigrant language] programs to foster [positive] identity construction is being limited by funding decisions that limit English language learning to basic levels of proficiency and increasingly place greater emphasis on the limited goal of job preparation” (2007, p. 186). Because ELSA policy does not address “identity construction” as a curriculum component, whether or not a classroom is a site where issues of identity and marginalization are addressed and challenged depends on individual teachers. 2.3  Research in Adult ESL “… adult ELLs studying nonacademic English remain an understudied population in the academic scholarship on second-language acquisition (SLA) and education” (Mathews-Aydinli, 2008, p. 199)  Numerous multimodal and multilingual studies have been undertaken with ESL students in kindergarten through Grade 12 which have demonstrated repeatedly that valuing students’ non-English linguistic and cultural resources, and harnessing those resources for learning, has profound effects on “students’ self-image and on the quality of their learning” (Cummins & Early, 2011, p. 4). Adults, who have significant life experience and, often, extensive educational and professional backgrounds, could be said to have even more resources than children which  10 could be harnessed for learning; research, therefore, would seem to be warranted with older learners. In her study of immigrant women in Philadelphia, Skilton-Sylvester noted that “[s]everal researchers have called for more focus on the particular and varied experiences of bilingual immigrant women (Carmack, 1992; Frye, 1999; Horsman, 1990; Martin-Jones, 2000; Ng, 1981)” (2002, p. 12). This research project had only women participants; immigrant women’s identity, literacy practices and meaning-making as they relate to this research will be discussed in the following sections. 2.4  Identity, Imagined Communities and Language Learning “…she frequently referred to herself as stupid and inferior because she could not speak English fluently” (Norton, 2000, p. 101)  Over the years that I have taught adult ESL, countless students have reported struggling with their identity after moving to Canada. Pre-immigration, they claimed to have positive identities of competent and successful members of society but post-immigration they feel their identities become ones of incompetence and deficiency. The transition from a selfconceptualization of competence to one of incompetence is sudden and resulting identity issues can affect their ability to cope with the multiple challenges that coincide with immigration. Since the mid 1990s, the influence of identity on language learning has become the subject of numerous studies and much theorization. Scholars writing about identity, imagined communities and language learning share a sociocultural approach with New Literacy Studies and social semiotics (see below). Norton (2000) in her influential study of Canadian immigrant women in Ontario uses “the term identity to reference how a person understands his or her relationship to the world, how that relationship is constructed across time and space, and how the person understands possibilities for the future” (Norton, 2000, p. 5). For Norton and other  11 scholars working in the field of identity, imagined communities, and language learning, “language is thus theorized not only as a linguistic system, but also as a social practice in which experiences are organized and identities negotiated” (Norton, 2008, p. 45). In addition, as noted above, because identities change across time and space they are reproduced in situated social interactions. This is complementary to the theoretical frameworks of New Literacy Studies and multimodality, an important point for educational contexts that have enormous variation of social practices. Researchers in identity, imagined communities, and language learning studies have been critical of the theorization of ‘good language learners’ as ‘motivated’ or ‘unmotivated’, a conceptual approach which assumes a more-or-less static and isolated learner identity. Norton argues that the concept of motivation should be abandoned in favour of “investment” (2000). Norton writes that “the notion of investment conceives of the language learner as having a complex, nonunitary identity, changing across time and space, and reproduced in social interaction. … an investment in the target language is also an investment in the learner’s own identity” (2008, p. 48). Skilton-Sylvester (2002), researching Cambodian women immigrants living in Philadelphia, similarly argues that “who we are is inextricably linked to culture and context and that people, cultures, and contexts are always in a state of change and influencing each other” (p. 11). Some researchers in identity, imagined communities, and language learning have begun to study identity categories and language learning (Norton & Toohey, 2011). For example, studies have looked at how sexual orientation, race, and gender intersect with language learning. Of significance to this study is the category of adult women learners. As Norton (2008) points out, in a 1981 study:  12 Ng stresses the fact that differences between the immigrant women’s experience in Canada and their home countries are not merely cultural differences. In their home countries, immigrant women conduct themselves in a competent manner, and their physical difference does not have the same degree of consequence for their interactions in the larger society. In Canadian society – or any new society for that matter – the adequate functioning of an individual assumes a commonsense knowledge of the organizational forms which determine how the society works. (p. 44) Norton, also referencing Ng (1981), points out “that immigrant women occupy a particular and different location in society to immigrant men, and that experiences of immigration must be understood as gendered ones” (Norton, 2000, p. 12). I would argue that for many of my students this issue is compounded by the fact that they are parenting transnationally (Waters, 2002, 2009). Transnational parenting occurs when the immediate family unit is physically displaced across more than one country. The most typical form seen in ELSA programs is characterized by one parent, usually the mother, residing in Canada with the children while the other parent resides in the home country supporting the family financially and visiting occasionally. These families are not involved in a marital ‘separation’ in the legal sense, but over time the physical and cultural distances can be challenging. Within transnational families, it is usually the woman who has been positioned to give up her career and come to Canada to be a full-time homemaker without dominant language skills in order for the children to have a Western education while the husband continues to live his life without major adjustments except for the loss of proximity to his family. The women’s linguistic, cultural and symbolic capital have been enormously diminished while their husbands’ have stayed more or less constant. For the women whose husbands have come to Canada with the family, it is often the case that men not only have higher levels of English but also greater opportunities to access “Anglophone social networks” (Norton, 2000, p. 17). Although over the long term there is some indication that highly educated immigrant women’s marginalization lessens (Waters, 2005), the settlement period in the first few years after entry to  13 Canada, the period when immigrant women are most likely to be eligible for and enrolled in a language program such as ELSA, is often a time of personal struggle (Waters, 2002, 2005). The women in Norton’s 2000 study seemed to report the same identity changes that have been reported anecdotally by my students. For all five women in Norton’s study, “the social meaning of immigrant was not newcomer with initiative and courage, but uneducated, unskilled and minority” (p. 117). However, this study and others have found that identities are “multiple and contradictory” (Norton, 2000, p. 127). Morita’s 2004 study of Japanese graduate students at a Canadian university reported: “…one notable finding was that these identities could change: The same students could participate differently and negotiate different identities in different classroom contexts or in similar contexts over time” (p. 584). Skilton-Sylvester (2002) also reported of the Cambodian women she studied: “…these women were not motivated or nonmotivated people, but their interest in and ability to come to class shifted across time and space as they took on different roles and identities in and out of the classroom” (p. 11). MenardWarwick points out that, in addition to the multiplicity of identities within one individual, each language learning class has the potential for huge diversity: “As educational settings become more linguistically and culturally diverse, there has been a growing recognition across many subdisciplines of education that multiple identities which students bring with them affect learning in powerful but unpredictable ways.” (2006, p. 253). Allowing for the fluidity in individuals and the diversity across classes, educators and education researchers must be prepared for complexity. As mentioned above, identity, imagined communities, and language learning theories also take a critical stance. In looking at issues of power, tangentially touched upon above in discussing gender categories, Norton begins with the position that “[p]eople who have access to  14 a wide range of resources in a society will have access to power and privilege, which will in turn influence how they understand their relationship to the world and their possibilities for the future” (Norton, 2000, p. 8). The women in Norton’s study, however, did not have much linguistic, cultural or symbolic capital in Canada, which severely restricted their “access to power and privilege”. As Norton writes, “…the concern for these women was that their education and experience had little social value in Canada, and hence gave them little access to the material resources they desperately sought” (p. 42). Directly resulting from their social positioning, “…instead of feeling a sense of accomplishment at the great progress they had all made in learning English, the participants in my study tended to feel ashamed, inferior and uninteresting because of their second language abilities. Such feelings of inadequacy and poor self-confidence must be linked to power relations that the women had to negotiate in their interactions in the wider community and their marginalized positions as immigrants” (p. 123). Worryingly, the lack of power that immigrant women experience in their communities can extend to educational contexts (Norton, 2000). Morita’s study of Japanese graduate students at a Canadian university similarly found that “ [a] common identity described by many of them was being less competent than others. Students seem to develop this type of identity based on the difficulties they were experiencing in the classroom, such as not fully understanding reading materials, lectures, or class discussions, and not being able to contribute to discussions as much as others” (2004, p. 583). Morita concluded that “[t]he students often had difficulty overcoming such roles or ascribed identities, especially when they were imposed by more powerful members such as instructors” (p. 598, emphasis in original). Obviously, this has relevance for classroom practice, but it is also an interesting question for research design: what pedagogical modifications need to be made to a multimodal project for adult learners so that they are positioned as  15 empowered rather than oppressed? It is important to note that, despite power imbalances, identity change and ascription is not only negotiated but also often resisted. Like identity, Morita (2004) theorizes agency as constructed socially: …students attempted to shape their own learning and participation by exercising their personal agency and actively negotiating their roles or positionalities in their classroom communities. My view of agency is based on two theoretical perspectives: neo-Vygotskyan approaches and critical discourse perspectives…. Lantolf and Pavlenko (2001) state that “agency is never a ‘property’ of a particular individual” but rather, “a relationship that is constantly co-constructed and renegotiated with those around the individual and with society at large (p. 148)”. (p. 590). Pavlenko and Lantolf (2000) studied memoirs of language learning by writers and academics who began to learn English post-puberty yet subsequently became expert English language users. They argue that agency is involved in order to become both bilingual and bicultural. They write of this process, “border crossing”, as being one of first loss and then “(re)construction of selves” (p. 155). The first stage often involves the “signifier [being] severed from the signified” (p. 166; see discussion of social semiotics below), as well as the loss of indexicals, including “I/me” (p. 164-165). They argue that in order for the self to be (re)constructed, the past, which is encoded in the first language and culture, needs to be transformed into the new language and culture. The process, as described, is painful and achieved only with the permanent loss of a former identity. This process, however, does not happen without choice. Pavlenko and Lantolf argue that “those who do not become members of another culture, never set out to translate themselves in the first place, never intended to fit into the new social networks, to negotiate new subjectivities of gender, adulthood, parenthood, etc. of the host culture” (p. 170). They claim that the person who chooses not to become bilingual or bicultural, “may feel comfortable being who she is and may not wish to ‘become’ a native of another culture” (p. 170). Menard-Warwick, discussing Norton,  16 theorizes that even if full bicultural and bilingual translation of self is not undertaken, any “progress in learning often involves taking on new identities, a process both exhilarating and painful” (2005, p. 266). Language learning, with its demands on identity transformation, is sometimes actively resisted. In an educational context, Canagarajah undertook a study of marginalized students in the United States and Sri Lanka. He found that “students perceived that their acquisition and use of the standard codes and discourses of academic English would involve taking on identities that were undesirable for them, would complicate their community consciousness or solidarity, and would lead to the denigration of their valued identities” (2004, p. 123) and therefore they built metaphorical “safe houses” in these educational settings. Safe houses are subversive and can take the form of secret notes, text messages, and messages written in the margins of textbooks, etc. These are sites of resistance where their “valued identities” can be preserved. One of the challenges, therefore, for educational research is to find pedagogic approaches that enable students to gain mainstream and dominant language skills without compromising first language and first culture identities which are vulnerable to hegemonic forces. Menard-Warwick notes that “[a] number of studies show that when this challenge is not met, resistance rather than learning is likely to result. Likewise, when language and literacy development become congruent with learner identities, learning is enhanced” (2005, p. 254). One approach that shows great promise is that of identity texts, which will be central to this research project. Cummins and Early (2011) describe an identity text as follows: Identity texts describe the products of students’ creative work or performances carried out within the pedagogical space orchestrated by the classroom teacher. Students invest their identities in the creation of these texts – which can be written, spoken, signed, visual, musical, dramatic, or combinations in multimodal form. The identity text then holds a mirror up to students in which their identities are reflected back in a positive light. (p. 3)  17  Cummins and Early, in their studies with kindergarten through Grade 12 language learners, found that identity texts enabled the students to “connect new information and skills to their background knowledge”, use their first languages as “cognitive tools”, and increased “awareness of the specialized language of school subject areas”. Resulting benefits included “[affirmation] of students’ identities as intelligent, imaginative and linguistically talented” and heightened “awareness of the relationships between their home language (L1) and the school language (L2)” (Cummins & Early, 2011, p. 4). Identity text research in non-academic adult ESL contexts, however, is currently a research gap. A final concept that must be taken into account in designing a research project that aims to create a pedagogical space allowing for affirmation of student identity is the concept of “imagined communities”. Norton argues that “[i]n essence, an imagined community assumes an imagined identity, and a learner’s investment in the target language must be understood within this context” (2008, p. 48). Norton (2000) further argues that: Immigrants who attend a language class bring not only their local experiences into the classroom, but also their memories of their native country and their own visions of the future they desire in a new country. Furthermore, they bring their own desires of what a language course should provide to help them settle into a new country and their own expectations of how formal language training can enhance the process of second language learning. (p. 134) If we design curriculum which fails to take students’ imagined communities, identities and futures into account, there is the potential that we are exacerbating the marginalization and identity struggles that they are already facing in the community. Educational research in the area of adult ESL is urgently needed and Cummins and Early note that research in identity texts is qualitative in nature; policy design tends to favour quantitative studies which means that research into this crucial aspect of language learning is often ignored (Cummins & Early, 2011, p. 18-19).  18 2.5  New Literacy Studies (NLS) “New Literacy Studies (NLS) refers to a body of work that for the last 20 years has approached the study of literacy not as an issue of measurement or of skills but as social practices that vary from one context to another” (Street, 2008, p. 3).  New Literacy Studies (NLS) is a theory of literacy which, similar to studies in identity and language learning discussed above, argues that literacy is not an individual skill obtained autonomously but rather acquired and “enacted” through cultural and social interaction (Gee, 2000, p. 413). Historically, research in this area has been largely focused on discovering and describing literacy as practised outside of school settings. More recent research has been exploring pedagogical applications of NLS, especially those that “bridge” or “mediate” students’ knowledge and skills inside and outside of the classroom. Literacy in NLS is conceived of as being multimodal and, in fact, much recent work in NLS research and pedagogical design has “linked” NLS and multimodality (Rowsell & Pahl, 2011, p. 181). NLS, which first emerged in the 1980s, developed in “opposition to the “autonomous model” of literacy” (Gee, 2012 p. 76). Brian Street writes that the autonomous model of literacy “works from the assumption that literacy itself—autonomously—will have effects on other social and cognitive practices” (2006, p 37). It is a model which defines literacy in terms of discrete “technical skills” (Street, 2006, p. 37); a model which is still dominant in many educational contexts such as those with a strong curricular focus on phonics, although as Street argues, focus on isolated skills “cannot provide much help in locating such activity in the broader frames that are continually impinging on our local practices” (Street, 2008, p. 9). According to Street, an autonomous model erroneously claims that “the acquisition of literacy will in itself lead to, for example, higher cognitive skills, improved economic performance, greater equality, etc.” while in fact “[disguising] the cultural and ideological assumptions that underpin it” (Street,  19 2006 p. 37). Gee also claims that the autonomous model is, in fact, “ideological” in that it involves “a set of concepts, conventions, and practices that privilege one social formation as if it were natural, universal, or, at the least, the end point of a normal development progression” (Gee, 2012, p. 76). In contrast to the autonomous model, a non-neutral theorization often promoted as neutral, Street has “proposed” the transparently labelled “ideological model” of literacy. The ideological model “attempts to understand literacy in terms of concrete social practices and to theorize it in terms of the ideologies in which different literacies are embedded” (Gee, 2012, p. 76). Street argues that the ideological model of literacy “offers a more culturally sensitive view of literacy practices as they vary from one context to another” (Street, 2006, p. 37), although he stresses that the model is “termed an “ideological” and not just a cultural model because it emphasizes not only cultural meanings but also the power dimension of reading and writing processes” (Street, 2005a, p. 418). He writes further that the autonomous model “… is always embedded in socially constructed epistemological principles. It is about knowledge: the ways in which people address reading and writing are themselves rooted in conceptions of knowledge, identity, and being” (Street, 2006, p. 37). Central to this approach is the argument that literacy is “a social act even from the outset” (Street, 2005a, p. 418). In educational contexts, “[t]he ways in which teachers or facilitators and their students interact is already a social practice that affects the nature of the literacy being learned and the ideas about literacy held by the participants, especially the new learners and their position in relations to power” (Street, 2005a, p. 413). The NLS ideological model of literacy, in summary, is a social theorization of literacy learning and practice with an acknowledgement of power inequalities which are inseparable from not only human interactions but also educational policy and practice.  20 The issue of autonomous versus ideological theories of literacy raises many questions of relevance to this study: (1) For adult immigrant students, are “school literacy” skills transferring to their “out-of-school” literacy needs? (2) Does pedagogical design recruit and value “out-ofschool” literacies sufficiently? (3) Are new literacy practices taking into account students’ identities as a site of struggle and negotiation? (4) How does pedagogical approach enable additive literacy, rather than subtractive? (5) Although the primary objective in ELSA is to help students adjust to life in Canada, in teaching about ‘settlement topics for immigrants’, where is the line between helping them improve their lives and hegemonically imposing Canadian ideologies onto them? (see Street, 1995 p. 135). Central to NLS’s conception of literacy as social practice are “literacy events” and “literacy practices”. Literacy events are commonly defined as “any occasion in which a piece of writing is integral to the nature of the participants’ interactions and their interpretative processes” (Heath, 1982, p. 50, as quoted in Street, 2005a, p. 419). Examples of literacy events include reading a bedtime story to a child (Gee, 2012; Hull & Schultz, 2002) or looking for a definition in a “reference book” (Gee, 2012). Events can be analyzed “in relation to the larger sociocultural patterns that they exemplify or reflect” (Gee, 2012, p. 81). As Gee argues, middle-class Western parents interact with preschool children in patterns which prepare them for literacy success in school, such as asking them questions and providing feedback on their answers when reading picture books so that “the child is thus socialized into the “initiation-reply-evaluation” sequences so typical of classroom lessons” (Gee, 2012, p. 81). This, of course, has broad implications for both children and adults in Canadian educational contexts who have not been socialized for academic success in those contexts. Literacy practices, however, go beyond individual literacy events. Street defines  21 “literacy practices” as “not only the [literacy] event itself but the conceptions of the reading and writing process that people hold when they are engaged in the event” (Street, 1995, p. 133). Hull and Shultz (2002) further explain that: …the term literacy practices draws from the anthropological tradition to describe ways of acting and behaving that reflect power positions and structure. Street (2001) makes a distinction between practices and events, explaining that one could photograph an event but not a practice. Literacy practices, according to Street, embody folk models and beliefs, while events might be repeated occurrences or instances in which interaction surrounds the use of text (cf. Barton & Hamilton, 2000, emphasis in original). Hornberger (2001) offers a useful distinction between literacy practices and literacy events, explaining that the reading of a bedtime story in middle-class U.S. homes is a literacy event (Heath, 1986), while these individual and repeated events are explained and undergirded by a set of literacy practices or conventions about parent-child relationships, normative routines around bedtime, and the like. (p. 24) The concepts of literacy events and practices, as mentioned above, have implications for adult ESL in Canada. If literacy practices are related to “structure and agency” (Hull & Schultz, 2002, p. 24), then educators must recognize that there will be a gap between the teacher’s own background, experience and training which has shaped her/his pedagogical orientation and the students’ literary practices which were formed through socialization in non-Western contexts. Adult ESL in Canada can also be very heterogeneous in student background – both in terms of cultural and educational background. Beginner classes, especially, can be comprised of students whose educational backgrounds range from no formal education to graduate degrees. Although with such heterogeneity it would be daunting for any individual teacher to be able to know each students’ literacy practices in great depth, NLS theory would seem a caution to educators that all of these students do have their own literacy practices outside of our classrooms; to negate or ignore this point would be to subscribe to a deficit model of education. From the 1980s through the late 1990s, most of the focus of NLS was concentrated on researching out-of-school literacy events and practices, as well as “theoretical critiques of the  22 autonomous model of literacy” (Street, 2005a, p. 420). In the late 1990s, Street (2005a) began to propose a “check list of features” for “this new approach to literacy” which he has continued to promote: 1. 2. 3.  4. 5.  Literacy is more complex than current curricula and assessments allow. Curricula and assessments that reduce literacy to a few simple and mechanistic skills fail to do justice to the richness and complexity of actual literacy practices in people's lives. If we want learners to develop and enhance the richness and complexity of literacy practices evident in society at large, then we need curricula and assessments that are themselves rich and complex and based upon research into actual literacy practices. In order to develop rich and complex curricula and assessments for literacy, we need models of literacy and of pedagogy that capture the richness and complexity of actual literacy practices. In order to build upon the richness and complexity of learners' prior knowledge, we need to treat "home background" not as a deficit but as affecting deep levels of identity and epistemology, and thereby the stance that learners take with respect to the "new" literacy practices of the educational setting. (p. 420)  With this checklist as a starting point, Street issued a “call to action” for researchers and educators to “link theory to practice within an ideological rather than an autonomous model of literacy” (Street, 2006, p. 39). Many researchers have responded to Street’s “call to action”, although the “bridging” or “mediating” of out-of-school and school literacies has involved the recruitment of multiple theoretical frameworks outside of NLS (discourse analysis, critical discourse analysis, cultural studies, communities of practice, multimodality, third-space theory, systemic functional linguistics). Examples of such work are de Pourbaix’s (2000) longitudinal study of literacy practices in an “electronic community” of learners in an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) class at a Canadian university, Low’s (2005) study in a U.S. high school English class which bridged students’ interest in rap music with original performance poetry, and Davis, Bazzi & Cho’s (2005) study of a high school program which was designed to help students acquire  23 academic literacy skills while positively affirming their minority identities. In their different ways, all of these studies aligned Street’s NLS checklist to additional theoretical frameworks with the result that students’ out-of-school literacy practices were valued and harnessed for inschool learning. This study was designed to be in alignment with Street’s checklist. NLS has also explored some interesting aspects of literacy that are often overlooked in other theoretical frameworks. Pitt noted the following “paradox” in adult literacy which emerged in the course of a family literacy study: “The focus on children’s reading, and parents’ support and interaction with them in literacy events, is on pleasure, creativity… But this dimension of literacy is absent from the adult strand. Can literacy only be pleasurable and inspiring when you are a young child, or parent of one?” (2000, p. 118). The role of creativity and fun in learning is rarely discussed in connection with adults, and many NLS studies seem to have, at least implicitly, addressed this issue. NLS has also, more than most theoretical approaches, considered how literacy practices that are considered ‘unsuccessful’ could actually be reframed. As part of a study on student writing, Pardoe argues that “it might be useful to research the understanding, rationale and skill involved not only in literacy practices and student writing that are viewed as successful, but also those viewed as ‘wrong’, inadequate, unsuccessful, and marginal” (2000, p. 150). Pardoe cautions that failure to do so will result in “a deficit view, in which low-status writing practices, and unsuccessful student writing, are viewed simply ‘as failed attempts to access the dominant, standard form” (2000, p. 150). Further, “…by focusing on what is not there, rather than what is there, such research fails even to recognise the existing understandings and practices that are the basis for any further development” (2000, p. 150). NLS is also explicitly concerned with valuing the totality of students’ literacy practices, many of which might be outside the educator’s area of expertise or experience. This issue is  24 particularly relevant to non-linguistic semiotic modes. As Cowan cautions, “[w]hen as outsiders literacy researchers and teachers observe unfamiliar products of diverse practices of literacy, they risk (mis)judging them and missing the rich social practices of meaning-making that produce them and their affirming effects” (2005, p. 149). NLS also argues that literacy instruction needs to “take account of not just what students need to learn but also how they have experienced and perceived their past and present learning experiences” (Leung & Safford, 2005, p. 320). It is important for educators to be cognisant that learners are not empty ciphers when they arrive in our classrooms, but individuals with affective stances towards formal education based on their previous experiences of learning. There has been criticism that NLS does not offer a “theory of learning”, nor does it offer many pedagogical applications to school literacy (Simon, 2005; Hopson, 2005). As mentioned above, there are many other theoretical frameworks that have been implemented in tandem with an NLS approach. Rowsell and Pahl (2011) advocate a “braiding” of NLS and multimodality, in particular, to address these issues: Behind both NLS and multimodality disciplines sit epistemologies and research methods: semiotics and ethnography…. Bringing semiotics and ethnography together provides a way of viewing texts as material and situated, as tracers of social practices and contexts. This method of analysis gives an ideological quality to multimodality and multimodality gives ethnography and New Literacy Studies an analytic tool to understand artifacts. (p. 176) 2.6  Social Semiotics “It is easy to overstate either commonality or difference. Social semiotics seeks to do justice to both.” (van Leeuwen, 2005, p. 24) “Given the principle that signs function as concepts, we can say that concepts are the result of the work of the sign-maker and represent their interest in relation to the world that is in focus. As a consequence, the semiotic, as much as the conceptual resources of the individual, is the result of their work in their engagement with their (social and cultural) world.” (Kress, 2009, p. 30).  Social semiotic theory is the larger framework out of which multimodality grew as a sub-  25 field. Stein writes that social semiotics is primarily “concerned with signs, sign-makers and sign-making” (Stein, 2008, p. 20). As the word “social” in the name makes clear, the social “action, context and use” of meaning-making are central to this theoretical framework. Van Leeuwen defines a sign, composed of a signifier and a signified, as “an instance of the use of a semiotic resource for purposes of communication” (2005, p. 285) but stresses that, in addition to the interests of the individual sign-maker, semiotic resources cannot be studied without taking into account the context in which they are used: “the interests and needs of a historical period, a given type of social institution, or a specific kind of participant in a social institution” (p. 23). As Stein summarizes, social semiotics is concerned with “how signs are socially produced and socially read” (Stein, 2008, p. 21). Social semiotics is a distinct and relatively new branch of semiotics from Saussurian “structuralist semiotics” (van Leeuwen, 2005, p. 1), and grew out of Halliday’s systemic functional grammar, a conceptualization of grammar as a resource for making-meaning, rather than as a set of rules (Halliday, 1978, as referenced in van Leeuwen, 2005; Stein, 2008). Social semiotics is interested in how these two interconnected forces – individual meaning-makers and society – have a bidirectional influence on each other. Hodge and Kress (1988) argue that many key concepts of social semiotics have emerged from “Saussure’s rubbish bin” (p. 15). Saussure, who first theorized signs, signifiers and signifieds, focused on langue (“the abstract system of rules underlying speech” (Hodge & Kress, 1988, p. 16)) while dismissing parole (language in use) as “an impossible object for systematic study” (Hodge & Kress, 1988, p. 16). A focus on langue “as a closed stable system produces a unitary view of language and the idea of a homogenous community of speakers. Meaningmaking is divorced from context and material reality” (Stein, 2008, p. 21). Social semiotics,  26 conversely, proposes that “[u]sing Saussure as an antiguide, we can invert his prohibitions and reunite them as basic premises for an alternative semiotics” (Hodge & Kress, 1988, p. 18). In fact, as Stein argues, “[t]he idea that signs are realised in material ways which move across semiotic systems has been critical to shifting our understanding of children’s meaning-making as a complex multimodal, material practice, where children draw on and transform whatever modes and materials they deem appropriate, have ‘to hand’ or consider criterial at the time” (Stein, 2008, p. 21). I would argue that social semiotic theory is probably as relevant to adult learners. In social semiotics, the “basic unit” is a message, which is defined by Hodge and Kress as the “smallest semiotic form that has concrete existence” (1988, p. 5). Further, a message has “a goal, a social context and purpose” and therefore must be examined in relation to its “directionality” (Hodge & Kress, 1988, p. 5). Messages, being the smallest unit of semiosis, build towards “clusters”; “clusters” in turn make up “texts” or “discourses”. Texts are defined as “the concrete material object produced in discourse” while discourse is defined as “the social process in which texts are embedded” (Hodge & Kress, 1988, p. 6). Similar to the field of discourse analysis, social semiotics theorizes that culture is created through discourse. As Hodge and Kress explain, discourse is “the site where social forms of organization engage with systems of signs in the production of texts, thus reproducing or changing the sets of meanings and values which make up a culture” (1988, p. 6). Social semiotics theory further theorizes genre, style and modality (in the sense of truth or reality, not semiotic mode) as co-existing features of discourse and texts; features which are constantly both reproducing norms within a culture and also contesting them. Related to the critical stance of social semiotics, it is considered that signs are not arbitrary but “motivated” (Stein, 2008, p 22). If it is accepted that signs are not “arbitrary” as Saussure proposed, it follows that “the motivated  27 relation of signifier and signified is ‘an essential foundation and legitimation of the enterprise of critical reading ([Kress], 1993: 169)” (Stein, 2008, p. 22). Texts are produced and read “within relations of power”; social semiotics aims to understand how semiotic resources both enact and resist power in society. The individual sign-maker, then, is not using semiotic resources neutrally but with negotiation as to “what the sign-maker ‘wanted to say’ or ‘needed to say’ and what ‘it was possible to say’ at that moment” (Stein, 2008, p. 22). Further, sign-makers do not make-meaning “in isolation” but as part of a group in which the sign-maker’s “individual interests may be divergent, resistant or convergent with the group’s interests” (Stein, 2008, p. 22). Choices exist on a continuum between large “capacities for creativity and invention, and the constraints and possibilities offered by the formative role of structures in the context in which the meaningmaking occurs. Acts of choice, however, can be highly constrained by the political and institutional structures in which they are embedded” (Stein, 2008, p. 23). Since its inception in the 1980s, social semiotics has been gradually trying to extend its theorization of many different semiotic modes. Kress and others have argued, both in social semiotics and multimodality, that language has historically been given an undue privileging in Western cultures but that there are many more semiotic resources which need to be acknowledged and theorized, especially as most communication is, in fact, multimodal (see discussion on multimodality below). Social semiotic theory has analyzed such modes as music, visuals (painting, photography, etc.), film, dress, toys, cartoons, advertising, architecture, websites, and others (see, for example, Hodge & Kress, 1988; Kress, 2005; Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006). Prior to social semiotics, many of these modes where theorized discretely in different disciplines (music, art history, etc.) but in social semiotics particular attention has been  28 paid to meaning-making through “multimodal ensembles” (Stein, 2008, p. 20). Van Leeuwen, for example, analyzes how rhythm, composition, information linking and dialogue work together in multimodal ensembles to creating meaning in a travel film (see van Leeuwen, 2005, p. 188). Social semiotics is relevant to the current research project in multiple ways. Adult ESL students have varied backgrounds in terms of the semiotic resources they have access to, are drawn to, or are educated in. Moving to a new culture has quickly exposed them to yet more new resources that are added to their repertoire, giving these students enormous potential for “redesigning” (New London Group. 2000, see below) their meaning-making if the pedagogical orientation creates space for intercultural semiosis. If we accept that all meaning-making is motivated, then we can value the students’ texts and discourses differently. It is also important not to constrain their choices too much. If students feel that their semiotic resources in the classroom are limited to those of Canadian culture and the English language, we are creating a deficit model of learning. In terms of interpretation and assessment of students’ work, social semiotics is continuing to expand grammars of different semiotic resources. If we are to value and appreciate our students’ texts (in the sense of multimodal texts), then we as educators and researchers need to have the analytical skills to do so. Social semiotics is a rich resource for ‘reading’ many different types of texts. It is noted, however, that social semiotics, to date, has only theorized analysis of multimodal texts from an English/Western perspective. We do not currently have tools to analyze texts created from non-English and non-Western cultural resources. Government funded ESL programs for newcomers to Canada are primarily concerned with discourses around Canadian ideologies. This is also significant from a social semiotics viewpoint. As van Leeuwen (2005) writes:  29 …discourses are never only about what we do but how we do it. The discourses we use in representing social practices such as eating are versions of those practices plus the ideas and attitudes that attach to them in the contexts in which we use them. (p. 104) ELSA programs teach settlement topics, such as healthy eating as discussed in van Leeuwen (2005), and other Canadian ideologies. The official aim of these settlement topics is to help new immigrants to understand Canadian institutions and culture, but the unstated simultaneous goal, from a social semiotics standpoint, is to induct students into Canadian practices, ideas and attitudes. 2.7  Multimodality “The question of differences has become a main problem that we must now address as educators. And although numerous theories and practices have been developed as possible responses, at the moment there seems to be particular anxiety about how to proceed. What is appropriate education for women; for indigenous peoples; for immigrants who do not speak the national language; for speakers of non-standard dialects?” (New London Group, 2000, p. 10, emphasis added) “The theory [of multimodality] is and was groundbreaking because it opened up communicative events beyond a sole gaze on the written word to extend into other modalities.” (Rowsell & Pahl, 2011, p. 176) “The ‘change potential’ of multimodal semiotics is another aspect that may be developed more in the future. The potential for multimodal research to impact on teacher training, the design of learning, and curriculum and software design is immense.” (Jewitt, 2008, p. 365)  The two other main theoretical foundations to the proposed research project are The New London Group’s (NLG) manifesto, “A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures” (1996; 2000), and Kress’s “Multimodality” (2000). The former argues not only for a multilingual and multimodal reconceptualization of ‘literacy’, but also suggests ways that these reconceptions can be pedagogically operationalized. Kress elaborates on the theory of ‘multimodality’ as a reevaluation of the modes with which humans make meaning, which modes have been (unduly)  30 privileged, and how we need to reprioritize our educational approach. The New London Group proposes that education’s “fundamental purpose is to ensure that all students benefit from learning in ways that allow them to participate fully in public, community, and economic life” (p. 9). In order to do so, they further propose that it is necessary to “extend the idea and scope of literacy pedagogy to account for the context of our culturally and linguistically diverse and increasingly globalised societies” (p. 9). Certainly, their view that learning needs to be relevant to students’ work lives, civic lives and “lifeworlds” seems to be an excellent vision for immigrant language teaching with its focus on (re)settlement. The large, urban centre where the research will be conducted is heterogeneous culturally and linguistically; an English-only, print language dominant focus will only partially assist students to settle in such a location. The students are also consumers of multiple modes outside of classrooms, constantly encountering visuals, the Internet, music, and many other semiotic modes. The New London Group’s proposal for pedagogy that addresses such linguistic, cultural and multimodal diversity would seem warranted. Moving from the macrocosm of the greater society to the microcosm of the classroom, NLG’s observation that “cultural and linguistic diversity is a classroom resource” (2000, p. 15) is relevant to this study for multiple reasons. On the level of investment, students need to feel that both curriculum and pedagogical approach are of value to their learning goals. Although adults in ELSA programs come to classrooms with goals that range from making social contacts to developing their English skills to the point where they can resume a professional career, it is vital that we value each of them as diverse individuals. If we do not, we are creating poor conditions for student investment. Further, diverse linguistic and cultural capital need to be recruited as resources, rather than deficits, for learning. NLG envisions a vital connection between a  31 pedagogical approach which can “recruit, rather than attempt to ignore and erase, the different subjectivities, interests, intentions, commitments, and purposes that students bring to learning” (2000, p. 18). While not claiming that we can “remake the world through schooling”, they are arguing that “we can instantiate a vision through pedagogy that creates in microcosm a transformed set of relationships and possibilities for social futures” (2000, p. 19). NLG proposes the “what” of this pedagogical approach is “Design”; design of meaning through various modes – “Linguistic Design, Visual Design, Audio Design, Gestural Design, Spatial Design and Multimodal Design” (2000, p. 25). They theorize that each mode of meaning has multiple components through which meaning-making can be designed. For example, “audio design” can be created via “music” and “sound effects”, while “visual design” can include “colors, perspective, vectors, foregrounding and backgrounding, etc.” (2000, p. 26). Further, they argue that multimodality is the result of multiple modes being “integrated” in “meaningmaking systems” (2000, p. 26). They identify three elements of design: 1) “Available Designs”; 2) “Designing”; 3) The “Redesigned”. Significantly for ESL students, “[d]esigning always involves the transformations of Available Designs; it always involves making new use of old materials” (2000, p. 22); therefore if the students’ “old materials” are, for the most part, encoded in their first languages (L1s), it imperative that we use their L1s as resources. Designing, “work performed on or with Available Resources” (2000, p. 23), and The Redesigned, “resources that are produced and transformed through Designing” (2000, p. 23), are both equally bound by what student resources are considered ‘allowable’ in the classroom. It is important to note that in NLG’s theory of Design, “listening and reading is itself a production (a Designing) of texts (though texts-for-themselves, not texts-for-others) based on their own interests and life experiences” (2000, p. 23). In other words, all interaction with a ‘text’ potentially engages  32 students’ previous knowledge and experience – both knowledge acquired in dominant forms educationally and knowledge they bring from their lives outside of the classroom – and therefore it is imperative that we value their knowledge in its entirety. The “how” of NLG’s pedagogical approach emerges out of their conceptualization that “the human mind is embodied, situated, and social” (2000, p. 30, emphasis added). They propose four overlapping components to their pedagogy: 1) Situated Practice; 2) Overt Instruction; 3) Critical Framing; and 4) Transformed Practice. Situated Practice is defined as “immersion in experience and the utilization of available Designs of meaning, including those from the students’ lifeworlds”; Overt Instruction is “systematic, analytic, and conscious understanding of Designs of meaning and Design processes”; Critical Framing is “interpreting the social and cultural context of particular Designs of meaning; and “Transformed Practice” is transfer in the meaning-making practice, which puts the transformed meaning (the Redesigned) to work in other contexts or cultural sites” (2000, all p. 35). Significantly for adult ESL learners, Overt Instruction “[builds] on what the learner already knows and has accomplished” (2000, p. 33); this conception of the learner requires a holistic view of their subjectivities and knowledge. Central to Transformed Practice “is juxtaposition, integration, and living with tension” (2000, p. 36); in programs like ELSA, this concept goes far beyond the surface treatment of ‘settlement topics’ and allows for a more complex engagement with issues the students meet beyond the classroom walls. NLG concludes that “[d]esigning restores human agency and cultural dynamism to the process of meaning-making” (2000, p. 36), which was a core value of this research project. Kress’s theorization of ‘Multimodality’ expands discussion of the multiple modes of ‘Design’ proposed by NLG. He begins by arguing that the linguistic mode of meaning-making  33 has been overly privileged in Western society for centuries; but as other modes become more utilized, such as the use of visuals in textbooks or the rise of the multimodal Internet, it is imperative to rethink how we theorize and understand all semiotic modes. In fact, he redefines even language in terms of multimodality: “the question arises, whether modes such as ‘written language’ or ‘spoken language’ can, in any case, be regarded as ‘monomodal’: in fact, my view is that they cannot” (2000, p. 184). His argument is that even written language involves multimodes (visuals, colour), materiality (type of paper, wood, marble, etc.), and an embodied response through the senses (sight). Kress makes a forceful point that meaning-making, whatever the mode, is embodied: “The issue of multimodality reminds us forcefully that human semiosis rests, first and foremost, on the facts of biology and physiology” (2000, p. 184).  Figure 2-1: Interrelation Between Mode, Material, and the Human Body (Based on Kress)  Kress also makes the point that “[c]ultures value some semiotic modes over others; this “affectively and cognitively” disadvantages some members” (2000, p. 187). This brings up two important issues of relevance for ESL learners. Firstly, if their home cultures value semiotic  34 modes differently than we do in the Western society, do we really want to privilege dominant Western modes to the point that we disadvantage individual students in our classrooms? Secondly, regardless of home culture, if individual students gravitate more towards certain semiotic modes than others, do we really want to handicap them by deeming only their nonpreferred modes acceptable in the classroom? Even in terms of preparing students for standardized tests which are linguistically-based, allowing students the learning resources of other modes to help them access their background knowledge in order to develop their English skills seems like a more socially just and potentially effective approach, particularly if it also develops the critical attributes to succeed in using power discourses. Also central to Kress’s theory is the idea that beyond individual preferences, “humans use many means made available in their cultures for representation precisely because these offer differing potentials, both for representation and communication” (2000, p. 194). Kress (2000) argues that: Any one semiotic mode positions us, from the very beginning, in relation to its systems of criteria and relevance: speech and narrative towards criteria to do with action, event, sequence; the visual, image and display towards criteria to do with focus-field structures, towards a representation of visually salient elements and of their spatial relation to each other. (p. 195) The differing abilities of semiotic modes to carry meaning is referred to as “affordances” (Jewitt, 2008). In this sense, the question arises as to whether or not it is sufficient to teach ‘language’ or whether we should be teaching ‘meaning-making’ in all its various interrelated forms. As Kress writes, “[c]ommunication – as transport and transformation of meaning – is hugely extended in a multimodal approach to semiosis” (2000, p. 189); our classrooms, if conceptualized as multimodal, must be pedagogically able to address students’ learning through and about all semiotic modes.  35 2.8  Conclusion There are many overlaps between the theoretical frameworks discussed above. All are  concerned with social situatedness of meaning-making, as well as issues of power and social justice. All conceive of meaning as being multiply semiotic and dynamic rather than discretely linguistic and static. Each framework, however, offers theoretical concepts that uniquely illuminated and benefited this research. Scholarship in the area of identity, investment and imagined communities addressed the initial catalyst for this study. Immigrant students’ identities are vulnerable and whether the pedagogical approach allows or restricts the students’ strengths for learning has the potential to positively or negatively impact identity issues. Scholars working in identity research offer the concepts of investment, negotiation, and imagined futures for design and analysis. New Literacy Studies, also situated and social, offered ways to understand and value students’ out-of-school literacy practices while recruiting these practices for in-school learning. Social semiotics offered a way to unpack the construction of meaning, as well as the bi-directional relation between individual meaning-makers and society. Its offshoot, multimodality, was both the ‘design’ centre and the lens through which to examine whether a pedagogical approach that expanded out from linguistic meaning and asked students to resemiotize between different semiotic modes had the potential to address a group of Canadian immigrant women language learners’ unique educational needs. Did a multimodal project facilitate their language and content learning while positively affirming learner identity? This research project attempted to answer this question.  36  3 3.1  Methodology, Data Sources, and Data Analysis  Introduction This chapter describes methodology, data sources of the study and data analysis. The  literature review clearly indicated a research gap in the area of multimodal pedagogic approaches with adult, non-academic English language learners. Research design, therefore, was influenced by studies undertaken in other educational contexts. Details are provided below for the site of the research, the program the students were enrolled in, general background of the participants/students, and timeline for the research project. The types of data for this study and the schedule of data collection are also outlined, as well as the research questions. An account of how the data were analyzed for emergent themes is included. Alternate methods of data analysis are briefly discussed, as well as the positionality of the teacher/researcher. Finally, the trustworthiness of this study is considered. 3.2  Research Site The research project was undertaken in a Level 3 (high beginner) English Language  Services for Adults (ELSA) class, a government-funded language program for new immigrants. Although ELSA programs are funded by the government, they are subcontracted out to various service providers, including colleges and non-profit organizations. The class where the research was conducted is delivered as part of a subcontract of ELSA by a non-profit immigrant services organization in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. The guidelines for curriculum and administrative policies, however, are largely dictated by the ELSA program, rather than the nonprofit service provider. For example, the ELSA program has government-written policies in the areas of eligibility, attendance, punctuality, length of study, immigration status of students and other administrative rules. It is important to note, however, that teachers in the ELSA program  37 often have a considerable degree of autonomy, both in terms of pedagogical approach(es) and how a very general curriculum framework is implemented to best meet student needs. 3.3  Participants/Students The ELSA program has eligibility requirements that impacted the participant profile for  this study. Within the geographical area where the class is situated, students must have permanent residence (PR) status to be eligible for ELSA programs; in this location, refugees and those who have gained Canadian citizenship prior to entering the program, are not eligible for ELSA. Students qualifying for an ELSA Level 3 class are required to have a minimum high beginner level of English in at least three out of the four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. These skills are assessed prior to intake at a regional language assessment centre and levels are based on the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLBs). Although ELSA classes are not usually segregated by gender, because the host organization only works with women, the participants in this research study were necessarily all female. All participants in the study had at least a high school education and some post-secondary education, and many had university degrees and professional career backgrounds in their home country. The majority first language of the participants was Mandarin, although two participants spoke Japanese and one spoke Farsi. Most students, but not all, came to Canada under the “investment” category and were not facing financial challenges. More than 50% of the participants, however, were engaged in transnational parenting with their spouse continuing to live and support the family financially in the home country while the participants were full-time caregivers to the children in Canada. Most of these participants had left successful careers to relocate to Canada with their children. Regardless of transnational parenting status, almost all participants indicated one of the primary reasons for coming to Canada was a desire to have their  38 children educated in Canadian schools. Participants in the study were as follows: Approximate Age 1. Andrea 40s 2. Frances 30s 3. Aymie 4. Elaine  30s 30s  5. Judy  40s  Level of Education in First Language University High school, with art training University Vocational school and college University  6. 7. 8. 9.  40s 40s 40s 40s  College University (Doctorate) College University  10. Sara 11. Sally  30s 30s  Vocational training College  12. Sharon 13. Wendy  30s 40s  College University  Name  Li Linda Lisa Molly  Children 1 (high school student) 2 (one toddler, one in elementary school) 2 (one toddler, one in preschool) 1 (high school student) 3 (one preschooler, one in elementary school, one in high school) 1 (high school student) 1 (elementary school student) 1 (university student) 2 (one in elementary school, one in university) 1 (preschooler) 2 (one toddler, one in elementary school) 1 (high school student) 1 (high school student)  Table 3-1: Summary of Participants  Twelve of the thirteen participants had children in the K-12 education system or children who were about to enter the K-12 system. Sara, Aymie, Frances, and Sally were all mothers of young children, ranging in age from 1-year-old to five-years-old. All shared common concerns about their children entering the school system in Canada, including how they would communicate with their children’s teachers and whether or not the children would lose their first languages and first cultures because of being wholly educated in English from kindergarten. Linda and Andrea had children in upper elementary school. Their children had been educated in the home country for more than five years before entering the school system in Canada, but were quickly acquiring English skills and were reported to be doing well in their Canadian schools. Both Linda and Andrea were very interested in learning more about high school in Canada as  39 their children would be applying to high school programs within the next year. Elaine, Li, Wendy, and Sharon all had children in high school. All of these participants reported that their children were doing well in the Canadian system, but they were nevertheless interested in learning more about high schools and post-secondary schools in Canada because all of their children were planning to attend university. Of particular interest to them was information on extracurricular activities, such as volunteering, since they seemed to be well informed about academics. Molly and Judy’s children straddled more than one educational level. Molly had one child in Grade 6 and one in university; Judy had one child in preschool, one in elementary school, and one in high school. Their interests in the unit of study were therefore varied. Only one participating student, Lisa, had no child in the K-12 system. Her only son was a successful student in third year university and therefore her ‘need’ for the content of this curricular unit was less than the other participants. Although all participants met testing requirements for ELSA Level 3 (overall assessment of speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills at CLB 3), there was a significant range of abilities within the class. Some students were at ELSA Levels 4, 5, and even 6 for certain skills, while others were at Level 2 in one skill. As mentioned above, there was a range of educational backgrounds and skills for learning depending on the type and length of educational background. In addition, the participants’ knowledge of and preference for a variety of semiotic modes varied significantly. For example, students’ professional backgrounds ranged from dressmaker to university professor; some students loved to write in their first language and some had always felt that writing was challenging in any language. All thirteen students enrolled in the class prior to the commencement of the research period consented to participate in the study. ELSA programs operate under a continuous  40 enrolment policy, however, and an additional six students joined the class during the research period. The six students who entered the class after the consent process engaged in the same learning tasks as the participating students but both their work and their opinions about the work were necessarily excluded from the collected data. All participants in this study contributed data that were relevant to the research questions. Some participants, however, contributed data that were particularly telling and/or representative of many participants’ experiences. In consideration of the length of this thesis, therefore, the data of some participants were represented more fully than others. 3.4  Teacher/Researcher and Positionality  Figure 3-1: Embodied Learning: Being Dragged Around in Movement Class (Ryerson Theatre School, 1993, Image by Timothy Bonham (Used With Permission))  This research project was conducted as action research; I therefore played a dual role as both classroom teacher and researcher. What made me a good candidate for qualitative research examining multimodal pedagogic approaches? Prior to teaching adult ESL, I had a career in the arts as a professional actor. For fifteen years, I first studied theatre and plays in an academic setting (B.A. in English Literature and Theatre, UBC), then studied acting at a theatre school (Diploma in Acting, Ryerson University), and eventually attempted to put everything I had  41 learned into practice performing in professional theatre, film, and television productions. Those years have deeply influenced my views about the type of research I wanted to undertake. In performance arts, linguistic forms of knowledge are less privileged; although language is often (but not always) important, embodied knowledge and the semiotic modes of voice, gesture, and the visual also come to the forefront. How I moved my body, how I delivered a line, and even how I was costumed became just as important as my ability to express myself with words. With the advantage of perspective, I can easily see that the valuing of multiple semiotic modes was a large reason why I gravitated towards performance arts; it is, therefore, not surprising that the research area of most interest to me is multimodality. My career path took a different course when I retrained as an ESL teacher. My research beliefs have, not surprisingly, been further shaped by my years in the classroom. I have incredible respect for my students. They have enormous resources in terms of educational background, linguistic ability (often in multiple languages), cultural capital, and life experience, but the vast majority of them quickly feel deficient after arriving in Canada. Lacking dominant language skills, they are too commonly treated as if they are stupid and soon report feeling inadequate. As I progressed through my coursework for this graduate degree, I kept expecting to find studies which would examine how we can better leverage adult ESL students’ significant resources to help them learn but, instead, constantly encountered a research gap. It is this research gap that is the true catalyst for my undertaking an M.A. My research may not do much to fill the gap, but at least I will be making a contribution to scholarship in this area, however small my contribution may be. I also need to disclose my values as they relate to my qualitative research. Although I have done my best to undertake data collection and interpretation with rigour, I must state  42 explicitly that my motivation for undertaking this research is not objective observation (if such a thing exists) but an explicit hope that I can contribute to a body of knowledge aimed at improving pedagogical approaches that, at best, have the potential to change students’ lives for the better. In this respect, I subscribe to an agenda of educational research in the service of social change. I would also add that I had a dual role as both teacher and researcher in this study. My dual role had both advantages and disadvantages because as the teacher/researcher I knew the students better than an external researcher would have, but I was also influenced in my observations because of this knowledge and my investment in their success. My investment in their success was in my role as a teacher. My teacher identity seeks to ensure that in each unit of work, my students develop language and content knowledge. It was no more or less, I hope, with this unit of work. My relationship with all participants predated the study, in some cases for as long as eight to twelve months. Further, my relationship with the participants was complex and encompassed the multiple ‘roles’ of teacher, researcher, and friend. My interpretation of the data was therefore complicated by decisions as to what I could include; my dual role of teacher/researcher prompted me to be particularly vigilant, in my reflective journal and/or field notes, not to include data sourced from informal or personal conversations that may have been shared by students as ‘off-the-record’ remarks. Further, because of my close relationship with the students and my pride in their successes, I often had to exercise caution in my writing that my pride as their teacher did not translate into ‘overenthusiasm’ in my discussion of their work. 3.5  Additional Classroom Contributors In addition to the participants and the teacher/researcher, there were three additional  active contributors to the classroom. A “teacher’s assistant” (TA) who is fluent in Mandarin, the  43 majority language, participated in all classes. Twice per week, there were also “volunteer teacher’s assistants” (VTAs) who attended the class. Both the TA and the VTAs participated in their usual manner during the research period, which involved circulating throughout the class and offering assistance with classroom tasks, as needed, as well as occasionally offering translation assistance in the case of the TA. The TA and the VTAs also assisted with the focus group interviews that were part of this study. Interview excerpts identify their questions and comments as “TA” (teaching assistant), “VTA1” (first volunteer teaching assistant), and “VTA2” (second volunteer teaching assistant). 3.6  Ethical Considerations It is noted that the research supervisor conducted the consent process and retained  possession of consent forms until the end of the class term, which was approximately one month past the data collection period. I was therefore ignorant of whether a student had agreed to participate in the study until end-of-term testing and reporting was completed. I do not believe that any conflict of interest arose from my dual role as teacher/researcher. Further, great care has been taken not to reveal personal details or revelations that might make individual participants feel vulnerable or exposed. In some cases, data have been omitted from inclusion in this thesis in order to protect participants’ identities. 3.7  Procedures This research project is an exploratory case study in which participants created identity  texts in connection with the curriculum unit on ‘education and parenting’. In particular, students were scaffolded through a series of pedagogical tasks which engaged them in reflecting on issues surrounding education: their own and their children’s educational past, present, and future. Prior to the commencement of the research period, all of the students had reported that the opportunity  44 for their children to receive a Western education, both in the short term in elementary and secondary schools and in the long term in post-secondary institutions, contributed to the decision to relocate their families to Canada. Considering the high cost of this decision to the participants – loss of career, loss of extended family support, and, often, physical displacement from their spouses – it seemed that an examination of issues surrounding education would potentially be able to engage participants in the three areas central to this study: (1) language and content learning, especially the bridging of out-of-school knowledge to in-school learning; (2) learner investment; and (3) positive affirmation of learner identity. The project had multiple tasks that built to a multimodal identity text. Task 1: Participants created Venn diagrams to visually and linguistically explore the differences between education in their home countries and in Canada.  Figure 3-2: Venn Diagram for Research Task #1  Task 2: Students reflected on a positive or negative learning experience by first creating a word web about the characteristics/defining qualities of someone they felt was an influential educator in their past and then presented their work to their classmates.  45  Figure 3-3: Word Web for Research Task #2  Task 3: Using a graphic organizer, students reflected on how education factored (or did not factor) into their decision to emigrate.  Figure 3-4: Graphic Organizer for Research Task #3  Task 4: Using multimodes, students then created an identity text to express their  46 educational trajectories, as they saw them; they had the choice to focus on their own, their children’s or the whole family’s experience. Modes used were at the discretion of the student, although I had varying ability to support each mode because of available resources (e.g. the classroom has no internet access or computers). Students shared their work in a final presentation; some students chose to claim authorship and wished for wider dissemination and therefore their work is shared in this thesis under their actual names. Following Tasks 3 and 4, students were asked to reflect on and share their thoughts about their selection and use of semiotic modes. This not only served the purpose of having them reflect on their own learning process, but was also of potential benefit in helping students understand other learners’ processes. As the students gained insight into how this project may have different affordances for individual learning, students may have also gained insight into the value of different educational systems, particularly pedagogical approaches which their children were engaged in and which might be foreign to their experience. Participants also reflected on the process through reflection journals. 3.8  Research Questions Given the context of an ELSA Level 3 class in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia,  the following research questions are posed specifically in connection with these learners: 1)  In relation to a unit of work on Canada’s education system, what are students’ perspectives of some of the opportunities and challenges of a multimodal pedagogical approach, both in terms of content and second language learning?  2)  What level of investment do the students say that they felt in the multimodal project, both in terms of their investment in the content and in the affordances of the use of multiple modes, and how did they think their investment, or lack of investment, affected both  47 content and language learning? 3)  What are the teacher’s (researcher’s) perspectives on the multimodal learning tasks, as designed and as implemented, and how those multimodal tasks enabled, or hindered, students’ meaning-making in their content learning and English language development?  4)  What are the teacher’s (researcher’s) perspectives on how invested the students were in the multimodal identity text project in terms of the content/topic and the affordances of being able to use different modes of meaning-making to enable their second language learning?  3.9  Data Collection The procedures and methods of data collection were as follows:  1)  Observations of class work: I took daily notes on class activities and discussions.  2)  Audio recordings of a series of classroom discussions: As part of the unit of work, twice during the five weeks, after tasks three and four were completed, students were asked to reflect on the tasks both in terms of choices they made and in what ways the task did or did not facilitate content and language learning. They were also asked about their level of investment in the learning tasks.  3)  Reflection journals: Students were asked to keep ongoing reflection journals, articulating their personal goals for learning and documenting their perceptions on whether the multimodal activities they completed enabled or hindered their second language and content learning, as well as how invested they felt in their projects. I also kept a teacher’s journal documenting my perceptions of the students’ learning and investment.  4)  Collection and documentation of projects: Students’ projects were documented through  48 digital photography. The table below summarizes data collection methods:  Research Questions  Data Collection Period  Research Question #1: In relation to a unit of work on Canada’s education system, what are students’ perspectives of some of the opportunities and challenges of a multimodal pedagogical approach, both in terms of content and second language learning?  Task 2  Research Question #2: What level of investment do the students say that they felt in the multimodal project, both in terms of their investment in the content and in the affordances of the use of multiple modes, and how did they think their investment, or lack of investment, affected both content and language learning? Research Question #3: What are the teacher’s (researcher’s) perspectives on the multimodal learning tasks, as designed and as implemented, and how those multimodal tasks enabled, or hindered, students’ meaning-making in their content learning and English language development? Research Question #4: What are the teacher’s (researcher’s) perspectives on how invested the students were in the multimodal identity text project in terms of the content/topic and the affordances of being able to use different modes of meaning-making to enable their second language learning?  Task 2  Method of Data Collection •  Task 3 Task 4  • • •  Task 3 Task 4  • •  Task 1 Task 2 Task 3 Task 4 Task 1 Task 2 Task 3 Task 4  • •  • • •  •  Focus group student interviews (class 12, 16, 20) Students’ multimodal projects Students’ reflection journals Focus group student interviews (class 12,16, 20) Students’ multimodal projects Students’ reflection journals Teacher journals (daily) Participant observation (class 8, 12, 16, 20) Students’ multimodal projects Teacher journals (daily) Participant observation (class 8, 12, 16, 20) Students’ multimodal projects  Table 3-2: Summary of Data Collection Methods  It is noted that the focus group interviews which asked students to reflect on their learning process in Research Tasks #3 and #4 were an integral part of the pedagogical design and had value for students’ learning, as well as being sources of data. All students in the class, regardless of whether or not they were participating in the study, engaged in these reflections.  49 Focus group discussions allowed students not only to reflect on their own ways of learning and knowing, but also to gain insight into how others learn. The ELSA program’s focus is largely on helping immigrants to understand and participate in Canadian institutions; as most students are navigating their children’s educational path in Canada in an education system vastly different than the ones in their home country, it is hoped that these reflections helped them make sense of a range of educational possibilities and how individual learners might respond to different pedagogical approaches. 3.10 Data Analysis Because research on multimodal pedagogical approaches and adult learners in nonacademic learning contexts is currently a research gap, the decision was made to look at the data set as a whole, impacting not only the type of data collected, but also the methodology and the analysis of the data. Data collected for this study were analyzed iteratively to identify emergent themes (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The initial stage was informal and occurred during the period of data collection. While teaching the unit and collecting data, I started to mentally note themes in the emerging data, as well as noting some themes in my reflection journal. These themes were both those that I ‘expected’ because they had been identified in previous studies (see Chapter 2) and those that I had not been ‘expecting’ but which I identified in the data itself. Post-data collection, but before formal ‘coding’ of the data was undertaken, I photographed students’ multimodal projects and transcribed the students’ focus group interviews and journal entries. Initially, I planned only to transcribe more telling or significant excerpts from the recorded interviews, but I decided that in order to develop a sufficient familiarity with the data set, I needed to transcribe all of the recordings. I believe that the process of  50 photographing and transcribing the data was successful in facilitating my in-depth knowledge of the data set. My ‘mental coding’ of the data continued through the transcription phase of data analysis. Once transcription was complete, the data set was in the following formats: Data Students’ multimodal projects (Research Tasks #1, #2, #3, #4) One student’s final multimodal project (Research Task #4) Focus group interviews  File Format jpeg  Number of Files 117  Notes Many projects were photographed multiple times from different angles  PowerPoint 1  Original format of Identity Text  Word  6  Students’ reflection journals  Word  1  Teacher’s reflection journal/observation log  Word  1  Transcribed from original formats of AAC (2) and MPEG (4) audio files; recorded in three focus groups on two different dates (May 22, 2012; June 7, 2012); each focus group was transcribed as a separate Word file. Students’ reflection journals were transcribed and compiled into one Word file. Original format  Table 3-3: Summary of Data Formats  Once the process of photographing and transcribing the data was complete, all eight Word documents were imported to ATLAS.ti as separate “primary documents” (P-docs). Starting with the earliest focus group interviews, proceeding through the second focus group interviews, then the students’ journals, and ending with the teacher’s journal, I went through each P-doc identifying, creating and assigning codes to the data. Some sections of the data had up to ten codes assigned, although most had between one and three. Further, throughout the coding process I used the “Code Manager” feature in ATLAS.ti to ‘output’ lists of codes and quotes to monitor and sometimes revise my coding decisions. I believe that this process could  51 have been endlessly iterative and therefore when I reached then end of my teacher’s reflection journal I made the decision to stop the formal coding stage of data analysis, although the codes continued to be adjusted and revised throughout later stages of writing the thesis. I note that I did not import the students’ multimodal projects into ATLAS.ti for coding. The focus of the thematic analysis for this study was on the students’ and teacher’s observations and reflections; the students’ projects were used primarily to triangulate these sources of data. The multimodal projects could potentially have been analyzed to examine how students were using semiotic modes to make meaning, but such an analysis was beyond the scope or focus of this study (see also Section 3.10.1). Once the data were coded in ATLAS.ti, I began to write the thesis. This stage of the data analysis was also iterative. Although I began by graphically organizing clusters of themes that I had identified through the process of coding the data, the process of writing the thesis was not linear. In general, the chapters were written in order (Chapter 4, then Chapter 5, etc.), but within those chapters sections were not written in the order they appear in the final thesis. During this phase, coding decisions were still being revised and the significance of observations was still being evaluated. The writing process is best described (multimodally) as follows:  52  !"#$%&'()#*#(  +,%*'(  -..()#*#  ((  /'0,%*'(  !"#$%&'%($&)%*+,'& -.&/(01#'%&'%2& )%*+,'&,3&40$0&  Figure 3-5: Writing Stage of Data Analysis  3.10.1 Alternate Methods of Data Collection and Data Analysis It is noted that a more ‘micro’ approach might have been undertaken for both data collection and data analysis. Data could have been collected at the site of production, for example, and interview data could have been analyzed using alternate methods, such as a discourse analysis (DA), which focuses on “language-in-use” and “construction of social reality” (Cameron, 2001). The students’ multimodal projects themselves might have been analyzed using DA techniques (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006). Although these forms of collection and analysis were considered, they were ultimately not employed for several specific reasons. Firstly, data collection at the site of production (students’ homes) was not possible because as I was both  53 teacher and researcher, there were far too many participants for this to be feasible. A form of discourse analysis, such as membership categorization analysis (Baker, 2000), would have yielded detailed and possibly quite different understandings than those that have been identified via thematic analysis, but because this study is addressing a research gap, it was decided that a more ‘macro’ approach would be appropriate. Finally, the decision not to analyze the students’ multimodal projects, except as they triangulate with the interview and journal data, was made because analysis of visuals and other non-linguistic texts (e.g. Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006) is currently based on English and Western semiotic ‘grammars’. The participants in this study were creating multimodal ‘texts’ with composition, symbols, and colours always encompassed non-Western and non-English resources from several cultures and languages that could not be knowledgeably interpreted, although many included Canadian and English language resources as well. 3.11 Trustworthiness The trustworthiness of this study (Lincoln & Guba, 1985) relies on multiple sources of data: students’ observations and reflections (focus group interviews and reflection journals) and teacher’s observations and reflections (teacher’s reflection journal and observation log). The students’ multimodal projects combined with the other sources of data allowed for further triangulation of data. It is also necessary to acknowledge that as both teacher and researcher, I had subjective knowledge of the students. As will be discussed in the following chapters, I had spent substantial time teaching most of the participating students (four days/week for one to nine months) prior to the commencement of this study, and therefore knew them all well as individuals (see also Section 3.11). While my position as teacher made me potentially  54 vulnerable to subjectivities and biases, every attempt was made to prevent my subjectivities and biases from unduly affecting my role as researcher in interpreting the data. The primary check was provided by the research supervisor who had been to the classroom and met the students, enabling her to monitor my possible misinterpretation of data resulting from my dual roles as teacher/researcher. 3.12 Timeline The data for this study were collected over a period of approximately five weeks in the spring of 2012. Units in the ELSA curriculum, as administered by the host organization, are taught on a monthly basis. In order to cover the remainder of the annual curriculum of monthly topics, this research was necessarily completed within the regular unit timeframe. Analysis of the data and completion of the graduate thesis took an additional twelve months post data-collection.  55  4  The View From Within: Participants’ Perspectives  Sara: "I think doing project very helpful... Think more and do more..." Andrea: “…I like this, like this system. It’s very interesting. Not just read, read words.” Elaine: "Before I came to Canada, I don't understand education in Canada. I come here then take this class and the project is about education so I understand the education in Canada so I know how can I to help my daughter."  This chapter focuses on the data that delineate the students’ experiences of engaging in this multimodal unit of study on the education system in Canada, collected in the form of focus group interviews and reflection journals. Thematic analysis was undertaken with this data to interpret the students’ perspectives of how they engaged with the multimodal tasks with reference to the first two research questions for this study, which are as follows: 1) In relation to a unit of work on Canada’s education system, what are students’ perspectives of some of the opportunities and challenges of a multimodal pedagogical approach, both in terms of content and second language learning? 2) What level of investment do the students say that they felt in the multimodal project, both in terms of their investment in the content and in the affordances of the use of multiple modes, and how did they think their investment, or lack of investment, affected both content and language learning? The themes identified as central to this study via thematic analysis constitute the main headings for this chapter, several of which have subheadings. These include: the affordances of multimodal meaning-making, the authentic communicative experience of sharing publicly, identity texts and investment, accessing prior knowledge to learn, and counter-examples. Images of students’ multimodal projects are included as they illustrate the identified themes, but a semiotic analysis of the multimodal work itself was not undertaken at this time. Only the themes  56 which were identified as prevalent and/or which were deemed to be of significance are included in this chapter because of considerations of length. Because some students were particularly articulate or because their work was a ‘telling example’, some of the participating students are discussed more than others. Regarding the data in the form of the students’ projects, it is noted that the size of the originals was, in most cases, quite large and therefore some images are fully shown and some only partially shown. If displaying the project in its entirety was relevant to the analysis, an image of the entire project was included, although details such as linguistic texts may be too small to “read”. Conversely, if the analysis focused on details such as ‘readably’ sized linguistic text, then only a partial and enlarged image of the project was included. Sometimes both a full image and an enlarged but readable section were included. 4.1  The Affordances of Multimodal Meaning-Making The multimodal pedagogic unit of four projects that comprised this research project could  be viewed as providing affordances for meaning-making that would not be available to language learners if the work was solely linguistically, and second language, focused. Individual students responded to these affordances for meaning-making in various ways, and many felt that learning tasks which incorporated multi-modes had benefits for development of their linguistic skills in English. 4.1.1  Students’ Views on Designing Their Projects It is clear from the students’ focus group discussions about creating their multimodal  projects, as well as the projects themselves, that students put conscious effort into designing their work. Many of the students gravitated towards visual and linguistic design ensembles. Elaine, for example, in designing her first project transformed a standard Venn diagram of two  57 intersecting circles into a bisected green apple, choosing to add colour, drawings, and spatial relationships that went beyond the minimal expectations for the learning task. She also added two pictures contributed by her daughter that depicted a student in China and a student in Canada.  Figure 4-1: Elaine’s Venn Diagram of Differences in Education Systems  58 Through her project, Elaine was able to demonstrate knowledge of the education system in her home country and newly acquired knowledge of the education system in Canada, depicted in multimodes. Frances was articulate in the focus group about how the process of Designing, including starting by thinking in her first language and then working out how to express herself in English, was a productive process for her. Her third multimodal project, the word web poster about the decision to move to Canada, was minimal in its linguistic elements compared to some of the other students’ projects, but it was evident through her presentation (see Section 4.3) that the process of Designing had prepared her to speak fluently about her decision to move to Canada.  Figure 4-2: Frances’s Graphic Organizer of the Decision to Move to Canada  In her own words, Frances described her process as follows: Susan: "[Frances], when you do your posters they're very, um, beautiful. Do you like working with the pictures and the drawing and the colours? Does it help you?” Frances: " I like uh drawing… but, uh, I when I make the poster, first I think what do... uh, what, what, what I want to say." Susan: "Uhuh"  59 Frances: "I think—[.]" Susan: "You think... do you think in words you mean you think? Frances: “Yeah.” Susan: “In Japanese?" Frances: "In Japanese. Susan: "Okay." Frances: "uh and everyone know, everyone can know my thinking, I use drawing." Most of the students were able to explain their conscious design choices and/or process of creating their multimodal projects, both in the presentations and focus group interviews. The following excerpt shows how Andrea’s use of colour had meaning: Andrea: “I make uh, I make a book about my uh daughter’s education journeys.” Susan: "Yes.” Andrea: “Um, in the past, I use uh white paper, uh, white paper. Mmm… It means I feel good about my daughter’s past.” Susan: “Yes.” Andrea: “Uh, then I use green, green. green paper.” Susan: “Yes” Andrea: “uh paper” Susan: “Yes” Andrea: “Uh, ex--, ex-“ Wendy: “Express” Andrea: “Ex, express my daughter’s, uh, my daughter’s presents, present education.” Susan: “Okay.” Andrea: “I, um, I feel it’s, uh, it’s, have many help uh for my for my daughter’s future.” Susan: “Okay. So gr--, what does green mean?” Andrea: “Green um is um have many, many help.” Susan: “Okay. So is that to do with like trees and nature or…?” Andrea: “Yes” Susan: “Okay” Andrea: “It’s grow, grow, growing” Susan: “Ahh, growing.” Andrea: “Um, I use uh yellow paper…” Susan: “Yes” Andrea: “express my daughters, uh, my daughter’s education in the future.” Susan: “Yes” Andrea: “Um, um, um, it’s, I’m, I’m, uh, fe-fe- [.]” Susan: ”Fearful?” Andrea: “Full” Susan: “Oh, full. Okay, full.” Andrea: “full of he- [.]?” Susan: “Full of help?” Andrea: “Help?”  60 Wendy: “Hope” Andrea: “Hope” Susan: “Oh, hope. Sorry! Full of hope. Yes, full of hope. Okay, so yellow is, uh, is like a lucky colour? Is it?” Andrea: “Yeah” Others: ”Yes” Susan: “Okay” Other students similarly talked about the choices they made and the meaning that they were expressing via various modes, particularly through colours, visuals, and spatial layout. Some students were able to explicitly state that they appreciated the affordances for meaning-making that the multimodal projects provided. In the focus group interviews, students were asked about their choice of modes. Linda spoke about the affordances of PowerPoint: Linda: “… I chose a PowerPoint because uh I had always made a PowerPoint in China.” VTA2: “Aahh” Linda: “It was easy for me.” VTA2: “So you were comfortable with it.” Linda: “Yuh” VTA2: “With using PowerPoint.” Linda: “Uh, uh think PowerPoint express my idea.” VTA2: “Expresses your ideas well.” Linda: “Yuh, so I chose PowerPoint.” Sara similarly spoke of how a poster afforded her the opportunity to “express” her identity in a way that she was not able to in written text: Sara: “I make a poster because writing a book is very hard for me.” VTA2: “Right” Sara: “with writing…” VTA2: “Right” Sara: “I choose a poster.” VTA2: “So it was easier to express yourself. Sara: “ [easier…” Sara: “Yes.” Later in the same focus group, both Linda and Sara talked about the affordances of mean-making in the visual mode: VTA2: “Like the bird you showed. Was it you? Who did, who did the bird that was a parrot? You did it? The bird that couldn’t fly.”  61 Sara: “Yes, but in Canada they can fly.” VTA2: “That’s right. That’s right. And you did those beautiful drawings. Um, the, uh… What kind of birds were they? Eagles?” Sara: “Eagles. But… in the botto? Bottom? [bottom of her poster] Have a parrot.” VTA2: “Parrot” Sara: “But at the top have a eagle.” VTA2: “That’s right.” Sara: “Eagle can fly… up the sky. ” VTA2: “So, like Linda, you drew something that expressed a bigger idea.” Linda: “Yeah.” VTA2: “Maybe it was hard to express in words.” Linda: “Yuh” VTA2: “But in a picture, you could make yourself understood.” Linda: “Yuh.” 4.1.2  Visuals Many of the students gravitated towards the use of visuals in their multimodal design.  This took the form of visual organization of information, such as Sharon used (as discussed above) in pairing contrasting pairs of features of the education system with which she was familiar with features of the education system she was learning about via colour and spatial placement. It also frequently took the form of pictures (i.e. drawings, students’ personal photographs, magazine cut-outs, etc.) Some pictures were used to illustrate information that was presented linguistically, but often pictures were used to carry meaning that was additional to what was being conveyed in a linguistic mode. In most cases, however, the visual component of their projects was explained orally in presentations and therefore acted to catalyze or reinforce spoken language. In both presentations and focus group interviews, students spoke about how the use of visuals factored into their learning in multiple ways. Several of the students believed that the use of pictures helped express meanings that their level of English did not accommodate (see 4.2 above on the affordances for meaningmaking). Linda spoke several times about the affordances of multimodal meaning-making, but she seemed to believe that the visual mode in particular helped her to express her meaning:  62 VTA2: “In what ways did working multimodally - okay, what that means is using pictures, drawings, colours as well as language – how, in what ways did working multimodally help you to learn, learning about both English and about education in Canada? Linda? Can you…” Linda: “I, I use picture.” VTA2: “Yes” Linda: “Yeah. Help me to learn uh English and uh information.” VTA2: “Okay.” Linda: “Yeah. Learn about education.” VTA2: “It helped you learn about education to use pictures?” Linda: “ [yeah, yeah, yeah… Yeah, use pictures.” VTA2: “How so?” Linda: “Uuuh… Pictures express my ideas.” VTA2: “Pictures express your ideas.” Linda: “So, I like to use pictures.” VTA2: “You like to use pictures. Okay.” Linda: “Then I say simple English sentence…” VTA2: “Simple English because…. Linda: “but, but the all people can understand my means…” VTA2: “but everyone understands what you’re saying because the picture says a lot…” Linda: “Yes” VTA2: “I see. Okay, great.” Wendy similarly felt that the visual mode enabled her to express meaning in ways that her capacity to express herself in English could not yet accommodate. She elaborated on exactly how the pictures were able to express meaning in her project: Susan: "Can you talk about the pictures or drawings you used, or what colours you used... how you designed your project..." Wendy: "Uh, I used many pictures in my posters. Uh, uh, uh, when I, uh, when I ex-...[.]" Susan: "Express?" Wendy: "When I express my daughter's past, I use a picture, uh, uh, uh, uh, a girl, um, with glass eyes because in the children, in the China, the children learn, uh the children work very hard." Susan: "Umhm" Wendy: "so they always learning, learning so their eyes... um... bad, bad." Susan: "right" Wendy: "Uh, uh, uh... when I, uh, speak my daughter's present, I use the, I use the picture [as] gift, gift, use many gift, because I think Canada's education better than China. When I immigrate to Canada, my daughter have uh uh better education, so I think Canada's education is a gift that Canada government give me and my daughter so I use gift pictures. Uh, uh, uh... Future, when I speak my daughter's future... Because my daughter  63 will go to UT [University of Toronto] so I use the UT's, um, uh, UT's [?] school's pictures and use a girl happy and health pictures" Susan: "Yes" Wendy: [laughs] Susan: "Kay. So it helped you to say what you were trying to say." Wendy: "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah." The visual mode was also important to Sara. Sara talked about the value of the visual mode to both her ability to express herself and to her learning process on several occasions. In her final project, in which the visual mode dominated, Sara represented students in both her home country and Canada as birds. In both countries the students/birds have wings, but in her home country the birds cannot fly: VTA2: “Like the bird you showed. Was it you? Who did, who did the bird that was a parrot? You did it? The bird that couldn’t fly.” Sara: “Yes, but in Canada they can fly.” VTA2: “That’s right. That’s right. And you did those beautiful drawings. Um, the, uh… What kind of birds were they? Eagles?” Sara: “Eagles. But… in the botto? Bottom? [bottom of her poster] Have a parrot.” VTA2: “Parrot” Sara: “But at the top have a eagle.” VTA2: “That’s right.” Sara: “Eagle can fly… up the sky. ” VTA2: “So, like Linda, you drew something that expressed a bigger idea.” Linda: “Yeah.”  Figure 4-3: Sara’s Birds: Students Who Have Wings But Can or Cannot Fly  64 In addition to preferring the visual mode to express herself, Sara also believed that using visuals was better for her learning. In her first focus group interview, she expressed her belief (endorsed by other classmates) that using pictures helped her to learn and retain information: Sara: "When we make poster, I think we never forget because we choose the picture and many colors. I think good for memorize. A long time we can use it." Linda: "Yes." Andrea: " I think those help me to be very interested in studying English." In her second focus group interview, she again spoke about how either drawing or even choosing a drawing helped her to learn: VTA2: “If you just had a piece of paper and you read the information, or you make a drawing about it, do you remember one better?” Sara: “Yeah. Because when you reading and, and memorizing, always forgot…” VTA2: “Mmmm. Okay.” Sara: “Sometimes doing a drawing or choose a picture is better.” VTA2: “So it helped you to learn more than other ways of being taught.” Linda: “Yes.” All of the students in this study used visuals in at least three of the four multimodal projects, even when there was unlimited choice of “modes”. Visuals seemed to be the preferred “mode” for the participants in this study, both in terms of a learning tool and means of expression. 4.1.3  Key Points Students’ work itself, as well as their discussion about designing the work, displays  evidence of design choices that are consciously multimodal, creating layers of meaning. Participants exhibited preferences for visual and linguistic design elements, and they seemed not only to be consciously aware of the reasons for their choices, but also of the affordances of these modes as opportunities for meaning-making. The affordances of multimodality allowed students to engage in content learning in ways that their language development to date would not yet  65 afford; further, being able to express themselves in multimodes scaffolded their language development to allow their meaning-making to go beyond their current level of mastery. 4.2  Other Benefits of Multimodal Learning Tasks Students reported several benefits of the multimodal learning tasks for content learning and  language development that ranged from the benefits of thinking versus rote learning, the benefits of organizing information graphically, and the benefit of ‘homework’ that has the potential to involve their children. 4.2.1  Thinking Versus Rote Learning Many students reported that they felt the multimodal learning tasks were beneficial for  long-term learning because they were required to “think” about and not just “memorize” content. Beginning in Research Task #1, the Venn diagrams comparing education systems, most students stated that schools in Canada required more “thinking” and less “memorizing” than in their home countries and this theme was identified repeatedly in their multimodal projects, focus group discussions, and journals. Sharon, for example, characterized “thinking” as emblematic of learning in Canada: Susan: “Anyone else have any ideas about their design?” Lisa: “I, I choosed red colour in my poster. Uh, and, I cut uh red paper, uh made uh maples leaves… Susan: “Yes.” Lisa: “because Canada is uh maple leaves country…” Susan: “Yes!” Lisa: “so, I choosed red on my poster.” Susan: “Excellent. Yeah. It looked really good!” [both laugh] Susan: “Okay. Sharon?” Sharon: "I choose a picture, uh a boy uh uh swimming uh in the sea. He's head is flag, Canada flag. Uh, uh, it’s a, he, his [?]. Uh, uh, under picture is uh uh two people studying in library. Uh, uh, uh other picture is um in the future [?], the people is, the people is, in the future they think.”  66 There were differing opinions on how difficult the “thinking” aspect of designing their projects was, although most participants ultimately expressed it as a positive feature. For Linda, who is highly educated in her first language, presenting her work was challenging but designing her work was not difficult: VTA2: “Linda, did you spend a lot of time?” Linda: “It’s easy for me.” VTA2: “It was easy?” Linda: “So, I some… I wrote some key words, but it’s difficult to me to speak.” VTA2: “Aaahhh” Linda: “Because I, I, I, I always think make a sentence, how to use key words… so make, make project is easy… but, but speak is very difficult to me.” VTA2: “So, doing the project was easy… Linda: “Yeah” VTA2: “but making the presentation…” Linda: “Yeah” VTA2: “Was difficult” Linda: “Yes.” In a later interview, Linda talks about having to think to “plan” her multimodal work: VTA1: "Did we learn anything new about how we learned?" Linda: "Uhm... How to plan. How to plan before uh make the poster." VTA1: "Mmhmm" Linda: "Yeah, it's very good." VTA1: "Okay, that's good. So, do you think that planning, having to do this planning, do you think that it helped you to do better?" Linda: "It's good." VTA1: "It's good?" Linda: "Yes." VTA1: "Yeah." Linda: "It's good. It's think. Thinking... " Some of the students felt the project was more difficult than Linda, especially trying to express themselves in English. Although the learning tasks were designed to allow students to create multilingual and multimodal projects, many of the students chose to include substantial written texts in English only. Molly spoke of the challenge of completing the written parts of her project: TA: "Is there any difficult or problem uh when you are doing this project?"  67 Molly: "Yes!" TA: "Yes, Molly" Molly: "Many uh problems." TA: "Yes" Molly: "Examp-- for example, when I want to write a long sentence..." TA: "Yes" Molly: "Sometimes I I don't understand. Uh Chinese word I know but English word I don't I don't know." TA: "Yes" Molly: "Sometime I need to check dictionary." TA: "Yes. Yes. Yeah, I know." Elaine: "Me too!" Molly: "So I'm I'm uh nervous, uh, for text. Uh, if text we need to write paragraph, so when I write a paragraph I don't know a English word, I don't use..." ?: "vocabulary" Molly: "yeah, dictionary, so I nervous." Like Molly, many of the students expressed that the linguistic mode, expressing themselves in English, was the most difficult element of designing their projects. The students had agency in deciding how much text was included in the multimodal projects, however; the fact that it was a site of struggle and ultimately success for many of the students is significant because those that included linguistic text, particularly in Research Task #4, had chosen to do so. 4.2.2  Design and Organization of Information Linda was articulate about how the process of designing her projects assisted her  learning. Although highly educated, Linda had not previously engaged in the types of learning tasks I asked her to undertake in this multimodal pedagogic unit. In particular, she thought that the process of organizing information visually was “useful” to her and a technique that she will use again outside of this class. In the second focus group interview, Linda talked about being introduced to graphic organizers: Linda: “I find something new. I, I… Before I come never learn is uh, uh…. I don’t know how to say name, “Menn?”” VTA2: “Venn? Venn diagram?” Linda: “Yeah, yeah, Venn diagram. I learn from Susan.” VTA2: “You learned the Venn diagram from Susan.”  68 Linda: “Yes, this is very useful for me. So you can write the main, yeah, then, uh, 1-2-3, what you, what you, want to say. ” VTA2: “Oooohhh…” Linda: “This is a new…” VTA2: “Oh, not a Venn diagram, but a, um, but a central image and sub, different subjects, different categories. [graphic organizer]” Linda: “Yeah” VTA2: “Categorization of information.” Linda: “Yeah” VTA2: “Okay.” Linda: “It’s useful for me in my plan something.” VTA2: “In your brain, it finds that useful.” Linda: “Yeah.” VTA2: “How to understanding information” Sara: “Yeah, this is good for writing.” VTA2: “It’s good for writing?” Sara: “Yeah, we can make something like a web and then write more about it…” VTA2: “Okay, so, so, the organization of information…” Linda: “Yeah, organization information. It’s very useful.” Throughout the focus group interviews, as well as her multimodal projects themselves, Linda was clearly aware of and articulate about her learning process. Her academic and professional experience had involved highly advanced study and original research, a background that might explain why she seemed better able to explain her learning process than the other study participants. The work of the other students, however, demonstrates that they were also able to organize information multimodally competently (see the discussion of Sharon’s Venn diagram above). In Frances and Aymie’s word webs of influential teachers from their pasts, for example, the information each has included is well “categorized”:  69  	
    Figure 4-4: Aymie and Frances’s Word Webs About Former Teachers  4.2.3  	
    Agency to Shape Multimodal Learning Tasks The multimodal projects that made up the core of this study were designed to allow the  students to have agency in their learning experience, as well as provide an opportunity for them to use artistic and other talents that they possessed. The final project, in which the students were asked to create an identity text about their own and/or their children’s past, present, and future education, was the most open-ended of the assignments. In their identity texts, students were able to choose, within the broad guideline of “education”, what content to include and which modes to express the content in. Although some students made posters, a format that they were comfortable creating after making several before and during the research period, some students made a conscious choice to work in another format. Andrea, for example, chose a non-poster format for her final project because she wanted a “change”: Susan: "Okay, good. Anyone else? Why you did a... uhm... you did a book, right? And you did posters" ?: "Poster" Susan: "so was there any reason why you chose a book or a poster?" Andrea: "Because, um, before, last month we, uh, make a lot of post. I want to change the system." Linda chose to do a PowerPoint for her final project because it was a format she had used extensively in the past and felt that it would help her express herself both because of her  70 experience and expertise using it, as well as the affordances of PowerPoint to carry the meaning she wished to convey: VTA2: “Think about making your identity text. Can you talk about your choices? Why did you choose drawings, a poster, a book or a PowerPoint? So, let’s talk about that.” Linda: “Yeah, okay. I, I choose a PowerPoint. VTA2: “You chose a PowerPoint.” Linda: “Yes, uh, last time I chose a PowerPoint because uh I had always made a PowerPoint in China.” VTA2: “Aahh” Linda: “It was easy for me.” VTA2: “So you were comfortable with it.” Linda: “Yuh” VTA2: “With using PowerPoint.” Linda: “Uh, uh think PowerPoint express my idea.” VTA2: “Expresses your ideas well.” Linda: “Yuh, so I chose PowerPoint.” Elaine chose to create a book for her final project to have the challenge of working in a format she had never attempted before: TA: "Think about making your identity text. Can you talk about your choices?" Elaine: "Mm...I, I choose... uh I choose uh book to finish the task, final task, because I think uh I have never wrote something in class so I choose a a book to to to uh write something." Inherent in the choice of mode and the affordances of that mode to express meaning, students were able to focus their learning opportunities in different ways. This took two forms: some students gained confidence by gravitating towards skills they were strong in, such as concentrating on visuals more than language; some students chose to challenge themselves by electing to use a mode which challenged them to develop their weaker skills. Sara, for example, was strong in speaking and listening skills, as well as her artistic talents. Although she worked hard on her writing skills over this period, and the preceding nine months of study in this class, for her final project, which was a poster expressing her identity, she chose to concentrate on her drawings and minimize the linguistic elements. As she knew that she would be presenting her work to the class, she was able to rely on her speaking abilities with  71 limited written text to provide prompts. The resulting poster had minimal linguistic content but was rich in meaning conveyed via other visual modes (drawing, colour, shapes, spatial layout):  Figure 4-5: Sara’s Visually Dominated Identity Text  Sara spoke about her choice to create a poster in a focus group: Sara: “I make a poster because writing a book is very hard for me.” VTA2: “Right” Sara: “with writing…” VTA2: “Right” Sara: “I choose a poster.” VTA2: “So it was easier to express yourself. Sara: “ [easier…” Sara: “Yes.” Linda and Sara, who interestingly gravitated to working together, had opposite abilities and learning challenges. Linda’s reading and writing were several levels above ELSA 3, as were Sara’s speaking and listening skills. Linda’s projects were similar to Sara’s in that Linda made a conscious decision to include only limited linguistic text. Linda, who is confident about her academic abilities, used visuals to challenge her oral linguistic abilities during presentations because speaking ‘off the top of her head’ was difficult, whereas Sara, who lacks confidence in her academic abilities, gained confidence when speaking without a script because she had the strongest oral linguistic skills in the class and used visuals partially to avoid expressing herself in  72 extended linguistic texts and partially to gain further confidence by displaying her work in another mode where she was strong. 4.2.4  Taking Ownership of Learning In the course of creating their multimodal projects, many students reported actively  acquiring new language skills outside of the classroom by consulting electronic and print dictionaries, the Internet, and family members with more advanced English skills. In this way, they were taking initiative beyond in-class, teacher-led learning to expand their abilities to express their knowledge, beliefs, and/or identities in English. Andrea, for example, talked about the project supporting her language development: Andrea: “Make, uh, make a poster or books make me, uh, uh, uh, vocabulary, vocabulary more…” Susan: “Yes” Andrea: “I have to find out uh vocabulary for my express…” Susan: “Yes” Andrea: “And, um, I feel my speak English is better than before” Susan: “Mhm” Andrea: “I think so.” Susan: “Yes” Andrea: “I think so” Susan: “Yeah” Andrea: “Mmhm. And I like this, like this system. It’s very interesting. Not just read, read words.” Similarly, Sara wrote in a journal entry how completing her projects was the catalyst for her to think about the content she was learning, and seek out, and retain, new vocabulary: I like this project because when I did it I practice and learn more about school system in Canada. This is very good for memorizing. I think more about school system. I use internet to learn. I learn new word and spell some word before I didn’t know. Although many students spoke confidently about gaining increased vocabularies and generally increased English abilities throughout this unit of study, they did not talk explicitly about other aspects of their language development (e.g. syntax or genre). It is likely that they  73 had limited ability to discuss other aspects of their language development in English, either because of limited metalinguistic awareness or because of limitations in being able to discuss other features of their language acquisition in English. My observations of the language development evidenced in their work, however, will be detailed in Chapter 5. 4.2.5  Designing With Children One of the unexpected results from this study was the degree to which many of the  students worked with their children on the multimodal projects. The ways in which they worked with children varied, however, depending on several factors. Aymie’s children were young – one-year-old and five-years-old at the time of this study – and she found it difficult to complete homework. She discovered, however, that she was able to complete work when her younger child was sleeping if she included her five-year-old in creating the projects. She spoke about this tactic when she was presenting her final project and confirmed her approach in a focus group interview: Susan: "So, think about making your identity texts. Can you talk about your choices? For example, why did you drawing or a poster or a book or a PowerPoint? Does anyone have any ideas about why they chose their, their 'mode' as we call it? [pause] You, cause you [were telling us there was a reason why--" Aymie: "[yeeaahh--" Aymie: "I have a daughter. She can help me to doing the...[.]" Susan: "pictures..." Aymie: "pictures... because my English is so poor so picture help to... not everything, but, yeah, help us..." Susan: "Okay" Aymie: "so and she's, uh, better, better than me for drawing..." Susan: "Oh!" [both laugh] Aymie: "So, yeah..." Susan: "Was it also easier to find time to do your homework if you did it with her? If you did something with her?" Aymie: "Uh, yeah" Susan: "Yeah?" Aymie: "yeah" Susan: "Okay." Aymie: "Okay."  74 Older children became involved in the creation of their mothers’ multimodal projects in different ways. Elaine created a final project that was about her teenage daughter’s education. Because her daughter was the ‘subject’ of her project, the daughter felt a sense of ownership and investment in the work. Elaine talked about her daughter’s involvement in a focus group interview: TA: "Uh, did your daughter help you with the drawing?" Elaine: "Yeah." TA: "Aaah, she draws very beautiful." Elaine: "Yeah" TA: "Yeah" Elaine: "She like draw." TA: "Yeah" Elaine: "Uh, uh she she know I I'm doing my homework for final task for um for past, present, and future." TA: "Yes" Elaine: "Because, because I show my daughter's education, not mine, so she, she thought she should draw something." TA: "Yeah, and she is very smart because she knows to use the pictures to express her idea." Elaine: "Yes." TA: "Like the..." Elaine: "She, she said, "Mom, what should I to draw on this picture?" so I think and think. [laughs] So I told her maybe to draw a classroom. So, she [?]" TA: "Yeah, she's so good. There is, that is a group project for you and your daughter." Elaine: "[laughs] Both!" Linda’s 11-year-old daughter also created drawings for one of her multimodal projects. Linda wrote in her journal of both the daughter’s involvement and their mutual happiness in working together: My daughter Like to take part in my project. She helped me to draw a picture. We worked together and were very happy…. She	
  helped	
  me	
  to	
  search	
  for	
  information.	
  	
  She	
   and	
  I	
  choose	
  pictures.	
   Linda’s daughter and Judy’s son, however, both had more advanced English skills than their mothers and took on the role of providing judgment on their mother’s work:  75 Linda: “Yeah, my daughter sometime say, “This is not good.” Or sometimes say, “Is good. So, I’m very interested.” VTA2: “So it was actually useful and, I think someone else in the class, their children helped them a little bit with the project as well.” Linda: “Yeah, yeah. It’s very interesting.” VTA2: “It’s interesting. Okay. Great.” Judy: “It’s very interesting uh when I make a uh uh a poster, my children look at poster and said “Everything is good.” Help me and uh uh when I finish, uh, uh he looks at all and “is good” at me.” It is interesting that most of the mothers were happy not only to have the children assist them with their English, but to have the children judge when the work was acceptable to present to the class. None of the students reported their children’s involvement in the projects, including judgement, to be problematic. 4.2.6  Key Points The students reported diverse benefits for learning both content and language skills  through engaging in the multimodal learning tasks. Although the students variously reported that completing their projects was “easy” and “difficult”, all of the students in this study reported positive benefits for learning. Recurrent themes in the data include the positive benefits of thinking versus rote learning, graphic organization of information, agency to design the learning tasks to meet student-perceived needs, student-initiated independent learning outside of the classroom, and designing with their children. Many students reported that the first four aspects of the multimodal learning tasks aided their longer-term retention of learning, particularly vocabulary. The fifth benefit, being able to work with their children on the projects, was reported differently, depending on the age of the children. Older children were both English language mentors and design partners; parents reported the chance to work with their children in one or both of these capacities as enjoyable. Younger children were recruited as design partners;  76 parents with younger children reported this as both enjoyable and an efficient strategy for completing their ‘homework’. 4.3  The Authentic Communicative Experience of Sharing Publicly From students’ feedback, it seems that an integral part of the multimodal projects,  particularly in terms of language development, was sharing their work. This was an authentic communicative activity that provided both a big challenge and opportunity to use spoken English, as well as a listening-rich activity. Although it also speaks to investment, Sara made an interesting point about the raised stakes resulting from sharing their work: Sara: " I think [this work] is important because we should talk about the class other students listen, that's why we should do it very well." VTA1: "Umhm, yeah, because you're presenting to everybody." Sara: "Yeah." It is implicit in Sara’s comments that the public presentations increased her investment in the learning tasks. For many of the other students, the presentation of the projects was also a hugely important element of the learning tasks. As discussed above, it was important to Linda to develop her speaking skills, an area of her English development that she felt was weak. She believed that the presentation stage of the projects was a good opportunity for her to develop her fluency in English: VTA2: “Linda, it was important to you?” Linda: “Yes important. So I can, I can remember some vo--, vo--, vocabulary.” VTA2: “Okay” Linda: “Vocabulary. And uh memorize some vocabulary and memorize some, some sentence…” VTA2: “Okay” Linda: “So I, I will….uh… Before I speak my PowerPoint, I, I will practise some sentence… VTA2: “That’s great!”  77 Linda: “So it’s important, it was important to me.” VTA2: “It was important to you.” Linda: “Yes.” VTA2: “Okay. Okay. Why, why was it important to you?” Linda: “Mmmmm… I want to speak in fluent, in fluent…” VTA2: “You want to speak fluently.” Linda: “Yeah. It’s writing or some reading’s easier for me to than speaking.” VTA2: “So, this project made you speak… Linda: “Yeah.” VTA2: “which is important to you, to learn how to speak well.” Linda: “Yeah.” VTA2: “Okay.” Linda and Sara also spoke about the benefits of listening practice during the presentations of the projects: VTA1: "Instead of reading everything off of a paper, we just read a little bit and then explain." Linda: "Explain, yes." VTA1: "So, what do you think about that? Do you think that that's helpful?" Sara: "Yeah, helpful for speaking, practice speaking." VTA1: "Right and it's... Linda: "And listen. And listen everybody, everybody so I listen their [?] speak English and then go listen. And accent..." Sara: "It's very different..." Linda: "Japan, Japan accent." VTA1: "Yeah, yeah, absolutely, right? Learning is one thing, right, learning to read and understand, but you also have to learn how to listen." Linda: "Yeah." 4.3.1  Key Points Students in this study reported that the final stage of presenting their projects to the class  was an important opportunity to develop their speaking and listening skills in English. Because they wanted to do ‘well’ in front of their classmates, they were invested in this stage of the project work. Many considered sharing their presentations publically to be both a challenge and an opportunity.  78 4.4  Identity/Texts The multimodal projects had benefits for expression of identity that went beyond  opportunities for language and content learning. Not all students chose to express their identities in overt ways through the multimodal projects, but all students made choices through the process of designing that conveyed meaning in terms of their identities, explicitly or implicitly. Students varied in how much their identities were a site of struggle and negotiation, as well as how comfortable they were in expressing ‘personal’ content in their class work. As mentioned, many of the students chose to do the projects on their children rather than themselves, but there were a number of students who fully embraced the opportunities to explore their own identities through this work. Linda, Sara, Frances, and Aymie all used this work to consider their own identities and imagined futures. Linda, in particular, did most of her unit work using herself as a subject and only peripherally referencing her daughter, although she involved her daughter in the creation of her project as discussed above. Linda had an impressive academic career in her home country, but she rarely referenced this identity in class prior to this educational unit. In discussing her identity text she talked of both her professional and cultural identities: Linda: “Yeah. I choose two pictures. One picture choose, show I make a report in… I make a report about my project [picture of Linda presenting her research at an international conference].” VTA2: “Yeah” Linda “Yeah. So, it shows my past work.” VTA2: “Ah. Okay.” Linda: “Yeah. Another picture, it shows, uh I make a small drummer [picture of Linda in costume for a cultural drum group she belongs to in her home country]. It means, means I can, I can overcome difficulties in present and I’m confident in the future. Yeah.” VTA2: “Okay. So, the [photographs in your PowerPoint] represented a bigger idea.” Linda: “Yeah!” Sara, Frances, and Aymie, all had similarly-aged preschool children. They were all struggling, at least to some extent, with the demands of raising young children without the  79 support system they would have had in their home countries, and contemplating what their imagined identities might be, both personally and professionally, once their children entered school. All had put their own careers and other personal goals on hold to raise their children in Canada, mostly because of educational opportunities for their children here. All were also proud of their first language and culture, and were concerned about how to ensure that their children who had been born in Canada retained their heritage language and culture. They were all cognizant that language and culture maintenance will not happen without effort on their parts. All of these concerns were expressed in their multimodal projects and are discussed in the following section. 4.4.1  Personal Sacrifices for Children’s Education – Identities Beyond “Mother” All of the participating students communicated through their multimodal projects or via  the focus groups that they had moved to Canada because of educational opportunities for their children. Although some of the students seemed accepting of the loss of social and linguistic capital that had resulted from this decision, several were engaged in actively questioning the move to Canada for a variety of reasons. In cases where students were ambivalent about living in Canada, their husbands’ identities had undergone less radical shifts because of immigration, if any at all, either because they had stayed in the home country for employment or because they were gainfully employed and possessors of far more advanced English language skills here in Canada. Linda was questioning whether or not to stay in Canada, which she explicitly called “the crossroad of my life” in her identity text (Research Task #4). Linda “[t]aught Biomedical engineer as a professor for ten years” in her home country, something she rarely talked about before doing the identity text assignment about her educational past, present, and future. During  80 her presentation, she talked about her own research, “[m]y recent research include light waveguide technology, application of light waveguide technology in medical devices and biomedical engineering”, and included a large picture of herself and one of her students that she said represented how much she enjoyed supervising graduate students. In Canada, Linda had been able to obtain a position as a visiting scholar conducting research projects in a junior capacity at a large local university. She was grateful for this opportunity, but she missed her position, her research projects, and her graduate students and she was actively contemplating whether or not to return to her home country as a result. She described her current work as: “Do experiments in the lab and collect data; Discuss finds with co-workers; Need to analyze data; come to conclusion”. This description was clearly juxtaposed with her description of being a “professor” and her ownership of “my research” in her former academic position. This sense of loss of academic and career capital was further communicated in the slides that depicted her dilemma of whether or not to stay in Canada or return to her home country. She felt that staying in Canada would mean retraining in a technical career, such as “optometrist” or “medical device technician”, whereas returning to her home country had numerous benefits and no disadvantages for her personally: “I like my students; I like my research; I like [home country]; Regret? No; Useful knowledge: Culture, education etc; New research: Hemoglobin Serum sample test.” The reason she had sacrificed her career was her daughter’s education; the depth of the sacrifice and the struggle she was undergoing as to whether she could continue to make this sacrifice was strongly represented in both her multimodal project, the PowerPoint, and her presentation of her project. Linda’s career identity was only one area of identity struggle or negotiation. She also strongly identified with the culture of her home country and considered herself a woman of  81 China, rather than dually Canadian and Chinese. Her identity text was one of the few multimodal projects that was multilingual and she included a picture of herself dressed in the uniform of a cultural organization to which she belonged. Although Linda explicitly expressed that her identity was unaligned to her new life in Canada in any way that she could settle into, she did not report being unhappy living in Canada and did not report feeling oppressed by learning English. She always had a positive attitude toward the class work, calling it “very helpful”, and was open to new ways of learning which were different than those she had been exposed to before. Doing the multimodal projects, or learning English in this environment generally, was not a site of identity struggle for Linda. Linda: “It’s very useful for me. Umm, I want… from this assignment… I want to make a plan for my future. So, uh, uh, I’m, have to, to search for about college and university so I can learning about education in Canada.” VTA2: “Oh, really?!” Linda: “Yeah. It’s very useful.” VTA2: “Great, great. Are you, For yourself, for you to take classes? Or is it just…. Is it so that you can take more classes at college?” Linda: “Yeah. Yeah. Or the university take classes…” VTA2: “For you to take classes at university. Wowww! Great.” [--question about taking university classes in her country or Canada] Linda: “No, here.” Aymie did not communicate that she was struggling with the choice to stay in Canada or return to her home country, but she described the multimodal projects as an opportunity for her to explore who she was, beyond being a mother of young children, and what she wanted for her own future. Aymie: “This time I just thinking of my past, present, future.” Susan: “Uhuh” Aymie: “So, usually I just doing the everyday uh work that I doing. But this time I just remember my past. And I know that my situation, my situation…” Susan: “Mhm, mhm” Aymie: “And I have my dream too, yeah?” Susan: “Yeah” Aymie: “Because when I was a student I have many dream and I have many thinking. But now just do uh homework [housework] every day.”  82 Susan: “Yes” Aymie: “Yeah, just, I have time to thinking about for myself or something. So… so, before I came here, ESL class is just studying for the English. But here project [identity text project] is…” Susan: “personal?” Aymie: “yeah.” Susan: “So that helped you because Aymie: “Yeah” Susan: “it was what you what you wanted, helped? Yeah?” Aymie: “Yeah.” She said that this “homework” gave her an opportunity to explore her own goals, apart from being a mother. Aymie was able to use the multimodal projects as a vehicle to explore her dual concerns of personal fulfillment and her children’s first language development. In her identity text project (Research Task #4), which she titled “I can do it for our children,” Aymie was one of the only students who chose to use a format that was symbolic of her first culture.  Figure 4-6: Part of Aymie’s Identity Text in a First Culture Format  In this final project, Aymie told the story of her university education in Japan, her work in Japan before coming to Canada, her initial move to Canada on a work visa, the family’s decision to move to Canada permanently, her life in Canada, and her hopes and dreams both for her children’s future and for her own. The story was written on the back of the pictures, but the audience was only shown the pictures as Aymie told her story. In the second focus group interview, Aymie explained that in Japanese preschools the children would not be read picture  83 books but instead shown a series of pictures while the teacher told them the story which was written on the back of the picture, a format she decided to use for her identity text. Although the format was from her first culture, however, the multimodal and multilingual project she created used “Available Designs” from both her first and second cultures. In the focus group interview, she explained that her identity text project was modeled after a Japanese tradition: Susan: "You had some really beautiful pictures, [Aymie]. Did you, um... Could you tell us anything about how you did those pictures or..." Aymie: "Umhm. I couldn't find uh some picture and I don't, I doesn't, uh, I don't have a my teacher's picture or something so just I have an idea..." Susan: "Yes" Aymie: "so, so I told uh my daughter so she can choose a colour and her imagination is uh making the drawing" Susan: "yes" Aymie: "so I don't know why she chose the [crab] or something. But, it is easy to the picture show” Susan: "Umhm. To show the pictures?” Aymie: “Show the pictures. [Maybe she couldn’t?...it is easy to…] Paper is easy.” Susan: “Umhm” Aymie: “In Japan, we have many picture shows.” Susan: "Uh, to show the, show the pictures?” Aymie: “Show the pictures. Umhm, not book…” Susan: "Aaaahhh… so it’s more of a Japanese form! Just to have a set of pictures for you to show… Aymie: “Usually, yeah, preschool teacher told not book but kind of picture show…” Susan: “Oooohhh, I see…” Aymie: “Everybody sit down and uh…” Susan: “Yeah! Well, I’m glad you explained that because I didn’t understand that until you told me that that’s just a, a way that you do things in Japan. Okay.” Aymie: “Everybody see that.” Susan: “Yeah.” Aymie: “They couldn’t read anything,” Susan: "Yes.” Aymie: “only they can [finish] from the picture…” Susan: "Yes.” Aymie: “So I just made it” Susan: "So it’s a Japanese form.” Aymie: “Yeah.”  84 4.4.2  Key Points Although some of the students avoided doing projects about their own identities and  concentrated on their children’s pasts and imagined futures – a valid and supported choice – others embraced the multimodal projects as opportunities to explore their identities, particularly their identities beyond that of ‘mother’. For these latter students, their projects were described as “important” explorations of their current identities and imagined futures. The fact that some of the students talked about the projects as an “important” opportunity to explore their identities, not to mention the willingness to share their struggles in the projects themselves, points to a high level of investment in the identity text projects (see 4.6 below). 4.5  Investment Another reason that the students expressed for being so invested in the unit of learning,  was the topic – learning about education in Canada was definitely of utmost importance to them since, as discussed above, most had moved here because of educational opportunities for their children. Further, they were concerned that their children succeed in this foreign education system. They reported that learning how the education system works here, and how they can support their children to thrive within this system, was important to them. Elaine, like all of the students, moved to Canada largely for her daughter’s education, but she spoke in the focus group interview of not really understanding the Canadian education system before this unit of work: Elaine: "Before I came to Canada, I don't understand education in Canada. I come here then take this class and the project is about education so I understand the education in Canada so I know how can I to help my daughter." Aymie also found the content of this unit helped lower her anxiety about her older child entering the school system, which she discussed in a focus interview:  85 Susan: “Did this assignment help you learn? Either learn English or learn about education in Canada? If it did, can you tell me how it helped? Doing your identity text project.” Aymie: “So, my daughter will go to the kindergarten this September. I’m very worried to go to school because she cannot speak English -- and me too -- so [laughs] so maybe her teacher talk to everything but I can’t understand everything, but we just know the teacher interview, and some… PAC, p--?” Susan: “PAC, yes. Parent Advisory Committee.” Aymie: “Yes, so, just I know the…. How can I ask for that… How can I contact or something.” Susan: “Yes” Aymie: “Yeah. It is good time for me to study the Canada’s education.” Susan: “Right. So it makes you feel a little less scared?” Aymie: “Yeah.” Susan: “Okay, good.” Aymie: “Thank you for good time for me.” Linda also expressed that she was invested in the content of this unit, not only for her daughter’s education but also for her own educational opportunities: Linda: “So, I think the information about edu-, edu-, education of Canada is very important. So uh uh because I want to go to study on about my daughter and I want to go to university so… VTA2: “So that information is very important to you personally. You’re very invested.” Linda: “Yeah.” Judy too indicated her investment simply through expressing her effort and time: VTA2: “Judy, would you say that you worked hard on this project or not worked very hard?” Judy: “Very hard. I think uh uh I spent a lot of time.” In addition to the time spent, some students felt that the multimodal learning tasks themselves increased their investment. For Linda, because she had to “think” to complete her work, she was more interested in completing it. In terms of Norton’s theories of investment and identity, rather than framing Linda’s efforts to learn English as ‘motivated’, it could be interpreted that Linda’s “investment in the target language is also an investment in the learner’s own identity” (Norton, 2008, p. 48), although whether her identity was more invested in being a  86 ‘good student’ or a ‘competent English speaker’, or both or neither, is unspecified by Linda herself. She wrote in her journal that: There are more thinking instead of momorizing in making a post [poster]. you have to look for key words. I took me two hours to finish this homework. but I liked doing it. In China I also studied always English to momerize vocabulary and writing. No doing diagram post [poster]. It was so boring that I sometimes don’t homework. The issue of time spent working on the multimodal projects, however, became somewhat problematic. 4.5.1  The Time Challenge of Invested Students There was a challenge that emerged for all the tasks in translating the research project  from planning to completion: the issue of homework. Students with young children and little free time at home indicated that they were having difficulty finding time to complete their projects. Judy, whose youngest child was 3-years-old, said that: Judy: "Is difficult problem is I'm no time because I'm busy..." TA: "Yes" Judy: "I have three children..." TA: "Yes" Frances, another of the students with young children, approached me to request class time to finish the projects after Research Task #2. I agreed that this was a good suggestion and, starting with Research Task #3, began to allocate class time to the multimodal projects. Frances commented on this adjustment during the first focus group interview: Frances: “… I took many time [to complete her multimodal projects]." Susan: "Yes.” Frances: "Uh, uh, it was hard for me. Third poster… when I made its 3rd poster in class we make it in class. It's good. I can, I can question to you Susan. Susan: "Okay" Frances: "Yeah. But homework is really very hard for me." Susan: "Hard. So just more more class time to work on it" Frances: "So poster is good. I could question [Susan something.” Susan: [Umhm, umhm….. good.”  87 4.5.2  Key Points Because each student in this study listed their children’s education as one of the primary  reasons for moving to Canada, they were all invested in understanding the Canadian education system and how they could support their children to succeed academically. This investment, in part, took the form of great effort and time put into creating their multimodal projects. The large investment of time spent creating their projects, however, became problematic in some cases as several students were missing sleep to complete their assignments. 4.6  Accessing Prior Knowledge to Learn The multimodal projects for this research unit were designed to build on and reinforce the  unit’s content learning. At all points in the pedagogical unit, students were asked to draw on what they already knew as a resource. In Research Task #1, for example, students compared the education system in their home country with the education system in Canada. The multimodal project required the students to visually and linguistically organize a substantial amount of information provided by the teacher and through school board brochures in a task which assumed their experiential and/or expert knowledge of a previously known educational system in order to learn about the educational system in Canada. All of the participants in this study had many years of experience with the education system in their home countries – all as post-secondary educated students, some as a professional teacher or school administrator – and this knowledge was central as a basis from which to develop language and content knowledge in the learning task.  88  Figure 4-7: Linda’s Venn Diagram Comparing Education Systems  4.6.1  Prior Knowledge as a Diverse Tool for Learning Although the students did not explicitly discuss accessing their prior knowledge during  this unit of study in either the focus groups or their reflection journals, both their work and their discussions about their work provide a wealth of evidence that they were in fact resourcing their prior knowledge to aid content learning, as well as using their prior knowledge to represent what they know. In Chapter 5, I will discuss this aspect of content and language learning from my perspective, but at this point the data already presented in this chapter will be referenced as they relate to this theme. The visuals in their multimodal projects, and their explanations of their visual design, demonstrated several different ways in which the participants were accessing prior knowledge to complete the learning tasks. Andrea used her drawing skills and her first culture knowledge of the symbolic meaning of colours in order to represent time and other abstract concepts. She spoke of representing the present as “green” because it symbolized her daughter’s current  89 education as “growing”; her future was “yellow” because it was “full of hope” (see Section 4.1.1.) Sara used her drawing skills to represent educational possibilities as flightless birds who were constrained or eagles who could soar to great heights (see Section 4.1.2.) Lisa visually represented her prior knowledge of Canada via the colour red and a Canadian flag (see Section 4.2.1). The choice of modes for their Identity Texts was further evidence of their harnessing prior knowledge to complete the learning tasks for this unit. Linda, for example, reported that she used PowerPoint because it was a format she knew well, having used it extensively in the past (see Section 4.2.3.) Aymie chose to use a picture show that is a commonly used format in her first culture to present her identity text (see Section 4.4.1.) Their choice to use these formats was conscious; their awareness of their proficiency working in these modes was a demonstration of prior knowledge. There was also evidence that students were using prior knowledge in how they organized the content of their projects. Aymie and Frances’s word webs about their influential teacher, for example, not only showcased their drawing skills, but also demonstrated their ability to organize information clearly (see Section 4.2.2.) Frances and Molly also talked about how important their first languages were in the process of creating their projects and organizing their thoughts (see Sections 4.1.1; 4.2.1.) Both talked about beginning to think in their first language about the concepts and content they wanted to include in their projects, and then figuring out how they could express this prior knowledge in English. Accessing prior knowledge also had benefits for building confidence. Sara was an example of a student who gained confidence by showcasing her strengths. Her prior knowledge of drawing was showcased in her final multimodal project and it is clear from her focus group  90 discussions that the decision to showcase her strengths was deliberate (see Section 4.2.3.)  The  agency to access prior knowledge afforded students the opportunity to draw on their pre-existing strengths. 4.6.2  Valuing Knowledge and Experience to Support Critical Thinking In explicitly asking the students to use their knowledge of another education system to  learn the content of this unit, students were able to think critically about both the home country’s and Canada’s education systems. Sally was one of the most conflicted students about which education system was better for her children. Although her children had been in Canada with her formerly, just prior to the commencement of the study her children had returned to their home country because Sally and her husband were concerned that the education system in Canada was “too easy”. She wrote about her dilemma in her journal: Having the chance to compare China and Canada’s education system, I am very happy. Sometimes, I feel confused. I want to let my children have better education. My daughter really likes Canada’s schools. 9 o’clock in the morning she goes school. At 3 o’clock, she gets off school. She has little or no homework. In China, she got up very early every day. to do a lot of homework. I wish there was a unity of the two	
  schools.	
   Wendy, too, although positive about the Canadian education system overall, was able to express a critical view of some aspects of the system in Canada. Her graphic organizer about the decision to move to Canada expresses her assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the Canadian system compared to the very different education system she knows from her home country:  91  Figure 4-8 Wendy’s Graphic Organizer of the Decision to Move to Canada  Like many of the students (from various countries) in the class, she felt that the Canadian system could be too “easy” or “relaxed” in its approach. The fact that many of the students commented critically on both the Canadian education system and the education system with which they were familiar and arrived at a range of conclusions provides evidence that the content learning for this unit was being reflected upon and assessed against their prior knowledge. 4.6.3  Key Points Students did not discuss using background knowledge for content learning or language  development in their focus groups or interviews, but features of their work and their discussions about doing the work provide evidence that background knowledge was playing a large part in their completion of the multimodal learning tasks. Of significance for content learning, all the students drew on their knowledge of school and school systems to make comparisons to the education system in Canada. Their discussion of conscious choices for colours and symbols based on their semiotic value, their display of organization and drawing skills, and their  92 proficient use of chosen formats such as PowerPoint in the data presented throughout this chapter repeatedly points to how pervasively participants were using prior knowledge to engage in this unit of content and language learning. The agency to use prior knowledge in the research tasks afforded them the opportunity to access their strengths for learning, which, for some, had the benefit of building confidence. Evidence of critical thinking also emerged in their multimodal projects, their focus group discussions, and their reflection journals, which would seem to provide further evidence that background knowledge was not only being accessed for learning, but the content learning itself was reflected upon and evaluated in relation to the prior knowledge. 4.7  Counter-Examples Only two of the participating students contributed data during this study that could be  interpreted as being counter to the rest of the data collected. I will discuss these exceptions below. Sara, who overall was positive about the learning benefits of the multimodal learning tasks, did not think that Research Task #3, specifically, offered her benefits for either content learning or language development. In a journal entry, Sara wrote: This project didn’t help me a lot. In this project I thought about my past but I didn’t learn any English. I’m sorry about this but This is my idea. Maybe I learned but I didn’t feel it, I don’t know.  	
   Sara’s learning needs were different from the majority of the other participating students in this study. She had high speaking and listening skills for the level of this class, acquired since  arriving in Canada four years previously and with only sporadic formal language instruction, and was only in Level 3 because of weaker reading and writing skills. Upon reading her journal entry, I had to agree that this task would not have posed much of a learning challenge for her  93 because she already had good mastery of the target language. Overall, however, a journal entry from the end of the research period sums up her assessment of the multimodal learning tasks as beneficial to both content and language learning: I think those project help me to improve my writing. I learn new vocabulary and I learn more English. Lisa also provided criticism of the unit’s content via a journal entry which dated from the first week of the study. In this entry, she expressed little interest in learning about the education system, or in developing writing skills, but was far more interested in learning more functional language to navigate her daily life. Saturday, May 5th, 2012 Last week, we learned education information in class. A lot of words are difficult for me. I know difference way for studing between in China and Canada. Education important are for students and parents. But I want to learn daily conversation. I able to make the something by myself. For example, making an appointment to family doctor, ordering at restaurant and booking a hotel etc…. When I speak to some people, I usually forget verb tenses. I really want to learn language well. I can trip everywhere and make new friends who are form difference countrys. If I have good English, I’ll talke with everyone confidencely. 	
   Although all the participating students in the study were mothers, Lisa was the only mother with no child in the K-12 school system. Her only son was a third year university student and, as such, Lisa had no need to understand the primary or secondary school system in Canada. She was also not interested in pursuing educational opportunities herself beyond English language classes. Interestingly, regardless of the relevance of the content of this unit to Lisa’s life, by the late stages of the research project, Lisa reversed her opinion about the value of the learning tasks, particularly for language development. Although the students could choose what modes they wanted to use and were not pressured to employ large amounts of linguistic text, Lisa not only chose to write in her projects, but decided that, although the projects were difficult for her, there  94 was great value to her English development overall if she developed her writing skills. Thursday, May 31st, 2012 Thanks for learning spot. The spot has a lot of wrighting and speaking, but I can’t write well, and use somes punctuation. My English is bad, SO, It was difficult for me. When I saw some students are good at writing, I always felt more stress. Befor, I thought speaking and listening are important for me. This month, we have practiced a lot of writing. I had made a little progress on writing. If I can write well, then I’ll speak well.	
   4.7.1  Key Points In the course of this research project there were two students who contributed data  indicating that the multimodal learning tasks did not support their content learning, language development, or investment. In one case, the student felt that one of the four learning tasks did not challenge her language development, although overall she felt that the multimodal tasks did provide opportunities for content learning and language development. A second student indicated at the beginning of the study that she was not invested in the content of this unit of learning and did not believe that learning about the education system in Canada would develop her language skills in ways that she felt would improve her daily life, but she did come to feel by the end of the unit that the multimodal learning tasks were beneficial to her language development. 4.8  Summary A number of themes were identified in the student-generated data collected during this  research project. These themes included the affordances of multimodal meaning-making, exploration of identity and imagined futures, agency in learning, designing with children, the authentic communicative experience of sharing publicly, and accessing prior knowledge to learn. There were minimal data indicating that students did not feel that the multimodal projects provided opportunities for language and content learning and what counter data that exist  95 correlate to two participants’ unique situations in terms of topic investment and language learning needs. My teacher observations will be discussed in the following chapter.  96 5  Teacher Observations  The previous chapter focused on the students’ perspectives with respect to the unit of study, particularly as they related to the first and second research questions for this study. This chapter will focus on my teacher observations as they related to the third and fourth research questions for this study: 3) What are the teacher’s (researcher’s) perspectives on the multimodal learning tasks, as designed and as implemented, and how those multimodal tasks enabled, or hindered, students’ meaning-making in their content learning and English language development? 4) What are the teacher’s (researcher’s) perspectives on how invested the students were in the multimodal identity text project in terms of the content/topic and the affordances of being able to use different modes of meaning-making to enable their second language learning? The data examined for this chapter consist of my observations and reflections during this study. It is organized into two main sections: 1) reflections on the research tasks themselves, including why I believe they were or were not successful learning tasks for the students; and 2) my observations of the students’ engagement and execution of the learning tasks, including how the tasks enabled students’ learning. Identified themes that will be discussed in this chapter include the topic of education in Canada, investment and identity, the unique needs of adults learners and the student-teacher relationship.  97 5.1  The Research Tasks As set out in the Introduction, this research study involved scaffolding the students  through a multimodal pedagogic unit that included four major projects. Before discussing the themes identified in my observations and reflections, I would like to report generally on how the research tasks translated from ‘tasks as designed’ to ‘tasks as social practices’. 5.1.1  Research Task #1: A Crash Course on the Approach to Education in Canada Prior to assigning the first multimodal task, a Venn diagram of differences between  education in their home country and Canada (Research Task #1), a significant amount of content learning about education in Canada was undertaken. Pamphlets from the district school board describing the local school system were used to familiarize the students with the education system in British Columbia. These pamphlets were designed for ESL parents, and included such topics as “Play as Work”, “Understanding Homework in BC Elementary/High Schools”, “Understanding Report Cards in BC Schools”, “Parent Teacher Interviews”, and “What Schools Expect from Students and their Families”. The students worked together in groups to understand their assigned pamphlet(s) and then to prepare and present a poster with the information to the rest of the class. Some of the pamphlet information was quite difficult for CLB Level 3 English, but the pamphlets were available in translation for at least half the students in each group. Further, almost all of the students were interested in the content as it was helping them better understand their children’s education in Canada, and they were therefore invested in making sense of it. After the group projects, the students then individually used their knowledge of education in their home country to reflect on the differences and similarities to education in Canada, producing a visual depiction of these differences and similarities in a Venn diagram (Research  98 Task #1.) The Venn Diagrams were presented to the class, a learning task in which they demonstrated remarkably deep understanding of the education system in Canada, and expressed this knowledge in English. Of note, when not presenting the students were deeply engaged as audience members, expressing “yeses” and other signs of agreement when someone from a similar background communicated ideas they could identify with and “wows”, “ohs” and other signs of interest, and even astonishment, when someone from a different background communicated facts about an education system that they were unfamiliar with. 5.1.2  Research Task #2: An Exploration of Previous Learning Experiences Research Task #2 was designed to help the students reflect on the ways in which they  learned and/or the ways in which past teachers were able to facilitate their learning. During this period, students continued to learn about levels of education in Canada and about helping their children plan for advanced education, as well as reading first person reflections on good or influential teachers. In Research Task #2, students designed a word web about an influential teacher, good or bad, they had had in the past. I encouraged the students to be multimodal in designing their projects (e.g. use of colour, visuals, etc.), with some explicit discussion about how different modes can carry meaning. In execution, however, I do not feel that this research task was designed as well as I had hoped. This was potentially the most personal of all the research tasks, because the other tasks had the option of talking about their children or impersonal content, which this task initially did not, and some students seemed uncomfortable talking about their personal history. One student, in fact, asked if she could do this task about one of her daughter’s teachers; I willingly consented to this, although her project ultimately lacked the depth of some of the others. For the class overall there were mixed results in terms of understanding and/or expressing why this past teacher was so effective or ineffective. Several  99 students were clearly able to articulate that the teacher had a strong personal connection to the student which facilitated their learning in a variety of ways. One student was able to explain the teaching methods that her past teacher had used to such good effect. The majority of the students, however, although seemingly comfortable undertaking this assignment, were only partially successful in being able to explain what ways an influential teacher had (in one specific learning context) affected their learning. The research task was, therefore, only partially successful in facilitating some reflection on how they learn; however, the presentations of Research Task #2, like all of the research task presentations, demonstrated impressive development of speaking and listening skills in English, as well as a high level of investment. 5.1.3  Research Task #3: A Critical Reflection on Life and Education in Canada Research Task #3 followed further content instruction about communicating with  schools, including parent-teacher interviews, and development of language needed to ask questions of and communicate concerns to their children’s teachers. For Research Task #3, I asked students to design a multimodal graphic organizer exploring what factors were involved in their decision to immigrate to Canada, what expectations they had prior to moving here, and whether or not the reality of life in Canada aligned with their previous expectations. I knew prior to assigning this project that in 100% of the cases, their children’s education was a central factor in their decision to relocate to Canada, but the project was designed to encourage them to think critically about whether Canada was meeting their expectations. In other words, was Canada and, in particular, Canadian education aligning with the future they had envisioned prior to immigration. This task did not call on as much explicit content learning and, as such, one student did not feel that it was as helpful to her content learning and language development as the other projects (see counter-examples, Section 4.7). Most students, however, seemed to be  100 invested in this project, as well as engaged in learning from their classmates through the presentations. Many students commented on how interesting it was to learn about other countries, including education systems, via their classmates’ presentations of this task. Overall, this project went according to plan for the most part. 5.1.4  Research Task #4: Putting It All Together in an Identity Text The final two weeks of the five-week research period involved content on setting goals  and succeeding in school, as well as adult education and the CLBs. Unlike the other research tasks, which were all assigned and completed within one week, Research Task #4 was undertaken over two weeks. This final assignment was very open-ended and, not surprisingly, the resulting multimodal projects were more varied in form and content than Research Tasks #1 through #3, which were more circumscribed. Students were asked to reflect on their and/or their children’s educational pasts, presents, and futures and they were encouraged to use any mode they chose to express this. Although every project undertaken in this study provided a platform for expression of identity, this project afforded the most scope for creating an identity text in which the students could affirm chosen identities. A long list of questions was provided to the students to catalyze thought, but the TA and I made it clear that they did not have to answer all, or any, of the questions in their projects. The identity text projects gravitated towards the visual mode (one PowerPoint, two books with linguistic text and illustrations, one set of pictures, and eight posters; one student missed completing the last project because of circumstances beyond her control), but all were strongly multimodal. Seven of the students did their projects about their children’s educational past, present, and future, three of the students did the projects on their own education, two of the students focused on their own and their children’s education, and  101 one project focused on reviewing the content learning about the education system in Canada and how children could be supported to succeed in this system. Name 1. Andrea 2. Elaine 3. Judy 4. Li 5. Lisa 6. Molly 7. Sara 8. Sally 9. Sharon 10. Wendy 11. Linda 12. Aymie 13. Frances  Mode Illustrated book Illustrated book Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster PowerPoint Set of pictures (absent)  Subject Daughter Daughter Children Daughter Self Daughter Self and son Children Education systems Daughter Self Self and children (absent)  Table 5-1: Summary of Format and Subjects of Students’ Identity Text Projects (Research Task #4)  All of the students spent many hours on this project and most seemed proud of their work. All of the students were also supportive of their classmates when they made their presentations. Almost all of the projects involved a linguistic element, but few of the students ‘read’ off of their projects, and those that did abandoned the ‘reading’ at some point in their presentations and just spoke, in English, about their work. The ability to speak about their projects so fluently demonstrated a deep knowledge of their material. 5.1.5  Design of Multimodal Learning Tasks and Personal Nature of the Assignments Although I knew that I would be asking the students to engage in work which would  access their personal histories and “imagined futures”, I wanted the students to be able to decide how much or how little personal information they included in their multimodal projects. Research Task #1 was relatively impersonal, only requiring the students to express what they knew about the education systems in their home country and Canada. Research Tasks #2 through #4, however, were potentially quite personal because they required students to use their  102 personal histories and feelings to complete the work (i.e. a project about one of their past teachers, their decision to move to Canada, and their past/present/future education). I think my caution about some students’ discomfort talking about themselves was valid. Molly asked to do Research Task #2 about one of her daughter’s past teachers rather than her own, and Andrea, Elaine, Judy, Li, Molly, Sally, and Wendy chose the option of doing Research Task #4 about their children’s educational past, present, and future, rather than their own. One student, Sharon, essentially did another version of Research Task #1 as her final project, entitling her poster, “Adapt to a New Education”, and revisiting the main features of the education system in British Columbia, as well as how children can be best supported at home and at school. Since most of her projects contained minimal personal content relating to either herself or her daughter, it seems that the impersonal content of her identity text project was deliberate, although her daughter was represented as a bird on her poster – a representation that could have remained ‘hidden’ if she had not chosen to point this out – and she did talk about her daughter briefly but with great feeling at the end of her poster presentation. Because there were always options to distance their identities and experiences from the learning tasks, however, there seemed to be no resistance to the learning tasks, expressed through either the focus group interviews or the work itself. Although some students may have had resistance to the work that they did not feel comfortable expressing, either through the focus group interviews or to me personally, all of the students were present in class with work completed – and many hours clearly spent on the work in all cases. As of November 2012, applicants for Canadian citizenship are required to prove they have English skills at CLB 4, creating a different urgency for immigrants to enrol in government-funded language programs, but at the time of this study the government’s imminent change to language requirements for citizenship applications was unknown and enrolment in the  103 ELSA program was usually related to the student’s personal goals. It is noted that during the research period, attendance was excellent. 5.1.6  Key Points The ways in which the students engaged with the four research tasks was largely as hoped,  with the exception of Research Task #2 (word web reflecting on a past teacher). Students embraced the formats of the multimodal projects as assigned for Research Tasks #1 through #3, and elected to produce projects in a range of formats when given the option to choose in Research Task #4. The projects were designed to allow students to be more or less personal in sharing their personal stories, an aspect of the projects that seemed to accommodate willingness of individual students to reveal personal details. Overall, my belief is that translation of the learning tasks from design to implementation was successful in supporting content learning and language development; the enthusiasm of the students’ overall engagement in the tasks spoke to their investment in the multimodal projects. 5.2  The Topic of Education in Canada Although the ELSA curriculum is designed to have each unit of work be relevant to the  students’ lives, particularly to increase content knowledge and develop language skills that will help them ‘settle’ in Canada, in my experience the topics of education and health seem to be the most important to the students, and thus where there tends to be the largest levels of investment in the work. The topic of health is important for navigating the health care system in a new country, but few students have expressed that they moved to Canada for our health care system. Almost all of my students since I began teaching ELSA, however, have expressed that one of the primary reasons, if not the primary reason, for their decision to immigrate was their children’s education.  104 5.2.1  Present Needs: Understanding Children’s Education  Figure 5-1: Excerpt From Elaine’s Identity Text: Her Daughter’s Education and the Decision to Move to Canada  As discussed in the last chapter, all of the participating students in this study, and, in fact, all of the students in this class, were mothers. Their children ranged in age from a few months old to 22-years-old. For all the students except Lisa, whose only son was finishing his Bachelors degree (discussed in Chapter 4), learning about the education system in Canada was important to them. The students with younger children were worried about their children entering kindergarten and adjusting to schooling in a second language, complicated by worries that it would be difficult to communicate easily with their children’s teachers and support their learning. The students with children already in elementary school were worried that they did not understand how the school system worked in Canada, how they could communicate with their  105 children’s teachers, and how they could assist them to make choices for their secondary education. The students with children in high school were worried about them being in the ESL stream, understanding academic requirements for graduation and university entrance, as well as some of the extracurricular expectations of Canadian high schools such as volunteering. All students, no matter what stage their children were in, wanted to understand about post-secondary education because post-secondary educational opportunities were considered an important factor in their decision to move to Canada, no matter how young the children were at the time of immigration. Judy, whose three children were in preschool, elementary school, and high school, needed to understand the entire range of educational stages in Canada. I noted at the beginning of the research project that “Judy spontaneously told me that the content of this unit is “really good”. They are very happy to be learning about it” (Teacher’s Journal, May 3.) During the third multimodal task, in which the students were asked to explore their reasons for moving to Canada, education was reported to be a primary factor for all students, either on their posters or during the presentation of their posters, or both.  106  Figure 5-2: Excerpts From Research Task #3: Education as a Factor in Immigration (Elaine, Frances, Sharon, Linda, Molly, Sally, Judy, Sara, and Andrea’s Posters)  Most students were concerned that the education systems in their home countries were too stressful, requiring children to attend for long school hours and then to complete many hours of homework once school hours were finished. In addition, many students spoke about the schools being very competitive in their home countries, with test scores made public and students constantly ‘ranked’ in order of achievement, with prizes for top students and open derision by teachers for the others. They believed that there was far too much emphasis on rote learning or being, as Sharon expressed, “spoon fed” (journal entry, May 22) the information with little opportunity to develop critical thinking or problem solving skills. Wendy, in Research Task #4, discussed her concerns about her daughter’s education in the past:  107  Figure 5-3: Wendy’s Identity Text: Her Daughter’s Education in the Past.  My daughter studied in China from kindergarten to grade 10. Chinese education that students required to do more memorizing of information. Students must did that teacher’s asked. So students thought few by themselves. In the elementary teacher speek and the students listen most. After school many students have many homework to do. My daughter did homework after 10:00 pm everynight. Except, my daughter need to do homework she should play piano two hours everyday. So she had less time to go out and to do exercises. Now I live in Canada I notice many children do exercise in the field or in the garden with their parent after school or weekend they look sunshine and happy. I thought my daughter’s childhood so tired and less happy. I repented my daughter. But there is one kind of things is good for Chinese education that is my daughter’s math base is very good. Now she’s science courses are easy for her.  Wendy’s assessment of the education in her home country was echoed numerous times by different students. Andrea’s final project described similar concerns about her daughter’s past education:  Figure 5-4: Andrea’s Identity Text: Her Daughter’s Past Education and the Decision to Move to Canada  Some students, such as Elaine, felt that the school system in her home country was not educating children ‘morally’. During the presentation of her third multimodal I noted:  108 31 May 2012: If school is only about results, Elaine thinks that students might graduate and become criminals. [She believes that] the Chinese education creates people who cannot adapt to society, cannot work with others, trains them to be selfish. Moral education is rare in China and Elaine thinks this is a problem (there was a lot of emphatic nodding in agreement by the other Chinese students when she talked about this!) Since dissatisfaction with education and/or future educational opportunities in their home countries was a primary reason for moving to Canada, gaining an understanding of the education system here, a very different one from what all of them had experienced previously, was important. As Sally wrote in her journal: Sally: Having the chance to compare [my home country] and Canada’s education system, I am very happy. It is interesting that, although invested in her work and positive about the experience of participating in this unit of study by the end of the five weeks as noted in Chapter 4, Lisa was, from my observations, the least invested of the students in the multimodal projects. She completed all work, but appeared to put in less effort than the other students and seemed less worried to gain approval for her work – either from me or from her classmates. I noted during her final presentation: •  •  Lisa always seems very happy. She says she likes her life in Canada, and certainly that’s the impression she gives. With her only son doing well at [university], she has less worries, maybe, than those with younger kids? She seems happy to talk about herself – more so than some of the other students. She doesn’t actually talk about her son very much. Maybe is more comfortable talking about herself than her son? No indication that she’s uncomfortable talking about him. Always seems comfortable in her own skin. Quick to laugh, easy on herself if she makes a mistake. (Journal Entry, May 30)  Lisa was the only student in the class who seemed outwardly unconcerned about making errors, although she did indicate that she was concerned about her abilities in her journal: “My English is bad, SO, It was difficult for me. When I saw some students are good at writing, I always felt more stress.” I suspect the primary reason for Lisa’s reduced level of investment in this unit of  109 study was that her only son was already more than halfway to university graduation. Her reduced level of investment correlated with the fact that she had no need to understand the K-12 school system. The way she worded her concerns about the content learning for this unit in a journal entry is telling: “Education important are for students and parents. But I want to learn daily conversation.” She did not say that education is important for “me”, which seems to indicate that she believed the unit of study was important for her classmates but not herself. 5.2.2  Understanding the Canadian Education System Generally, students were interested in gaining an understanding of local education, both  in macro terms (understanding educational stages such as preschool through post-secondary) and micro (how to write a note to a child’s teacher excusing an absence). During one of the first lessons for this unit, I noted in my teacher’s journal that: 3 May 2012: Judy spontaneously told me that the content of this unit is “really good”. She is very happy to be learning about it. Other students nodded their heads in agreement. During the presentations of the first multimodal project which required students to compare the similarities and differences of education in Canada and their home countries, I was impressed by the amount of detail that most of them included, as well as by how fluently they spoke about the content. The amount of detail representing substantive content knowledge that they included, both in their projects and in their presentations, is an indication of how important this topic was to them. Linda and Elaine’s posters exemplify how much detail was included in their projects:  110  Figure 5-5: Linda and Elaine’s Venn Diagrams Comparing Education Systems  111 Students were not required to include linguistic texts that were written in complete sentences because, although the students had some agency to decide how they wanted to focus their learning, I encouraged them to include only “key words” for the linguistic component of their posters. Most of the participating students, with the notable exception of Sara, tended to be stronger writers than speakers and there was, therefore, a lot of value for them to have to present posters that they could not just ‘read’. Even so, the vocabulary and the phrases used in the posters were beyond expectations for Level 3, as was the language used during the presentations. When Research Task #1 was presented, I noted that: “there seemed to be a lot of confidence, although the task was quite detailed, involved a lot of language.” (May 7, teacher’s log). There was also evidence of extensive critical thinking about the education systems in their home countries and in Canada. Although most students were positive about the education system in Canada (“Canadian schools have more active learning”; “I very like uh uh Canada education”), the data show that many of them also had criticisms (“K-12 is harder in [home country, “harder” expressed as a positive attribute], but university is better in Canada”; “I wish there was a unity of the two schools”). Many students talked about the stress and long hours of the education systems in their home countries as being detrimental to their children’s health and well-being, but they felt that Canadian education was too much the other extreme, being too easy with too little memorization. I noted in my teacher’s log, for example, that Wendy’s poster had “eyeglasses [that] symbolize stress and seriousness” of education in her home country to the point that there is “too much pressure” on children. However, I also noted the following criticisms of the education system in Canada in my notes: Sharon felt “that there it too little homework in Canada”, while Wendy felt that “her daughter’s math and science are very strong” because of her previous education in their home country. Considering that the ELSA program is  112 a government-funded class with an ideological agenda to teach about Canadian values and institutions, it is sometimes an interesting challenge to present content about these values without hegemonically implying that the ‘Canadian way’ is superior to what they have experienced or believe in. Because ELSA students in this study were all well-educated adults in their 30s and 40s, it is to be expected that they would have opinions about the differences between Canada and their home country; the fact that they felt comfortable sharing these opinions, even if they were sometimes critical about the education system in Canada, seems to indicate that they felt their opinions were valued and that critical thinking was welcomed in this classroom environment. 5.2.3  Worries About Reductive Bilingualism Aymie and her husband had chosen to move to Canada for a variety of reasons,  including their children’s education, but Aymie was conscious of the hegemonic forces of English language and North American culture and was actively supporting her young children to develop first language skills. To this end, her daughter attended preschool in her first language twice every week. Her daughter’s first language skills in the months prior to her entry to kindergarten were strong, and Aymie was worried that her daughter was going to struggle with English when she first entered kindergarten, while also worrying that she would eventually lose her first language.  Figure 5-6: Aymie’s Identity Text: Concerns About Her Children Learning and Retaining Their Heritage Language  Her younger child, a toddler, was already resisting his first language and choosing to speak English. Complicating her dilemma about language use, Aymie was, in my opinion, overly selfcritical about her language skills. Although she was one of the strongest students in all four  113 skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening), she seemed to judge her abilities against native speakers and was particularly worried about whether her language skills would be sufficient for her to be a strong advocate for her children when they entered the Canadian school system. Aymie: “So, my daughter will go to the kindergarten this September. I’m very worried to go to school because she cannot speak English -- and me too -- so [laughs] so maybe her teacher talk to everything but I can’t understand everything….” I think that Aymie was underestimating her language abilities in English, but I also think her fears about her children struggling with reductive bilingualism upon entry to school were valid. 5.2.4  Background Knowledge Most of the learning tasks for this unit were designed to access students’ knowledge of  the education system that they were familiar with in order to learn about the education system in Canada. In my experience teaching different levels in the ELSA program, which several colleagues have corroborated, students who graduate to or enter the program at Level 3 almost always have at least a high school education, with the vast majority having a post secondary education. As such, they bring with them rich educational backgrounds that can be used as a starting place for learning about the educational system in Canada. In the first research task, I noted that: There seemed to be a lot of confidence [in their presentations], although the task was quite detailed, involved a lot of language, because they were able to express what they knew – they were able to be experts on education in their home country ALLOWING them to assess Canadian education from that viewpoint (using what they already know to learn). During the final project presentations, I noted that: The subject, as we hoped, meant that everyone was both knowledgeable about their own experiences and was able to use a comparison to education in Canada in order to learn about the Canadian education system.  114 The amount of content that related to their past education varied throughout the research tasks, but each multimodal project required the students to draw on previous knowledge of their educational and/or personal experiences prior to immigration. Because such a substantial amount of the content of their projects was well known to them, albeit sometimes difficult to express in English, this gave them a solid ‘platform’ from which to learn new information and develop the language skills to communicate their ideas in English. All of the learning tasks for this unit explicitly called on students’ knowledge of the education system in their home country and/or their own educational experiences. Research Task #1, in particular, asked students to digest a substantial amount of information about the education system in Canada and then to compare it to the education system in which they or their children had been educated prior to immigration. When setting out the ways in which the education systems differed, most of the students chose to ‘match’ the information in the outside sections of their two circles. For example, aspects of the education systems such as amount of memorization, formality of relationship between teachers and students, etc., were set out across from each other on their diagrams.  115  Figure 5-7: Sharon’s Venn Diagram Comparing Education Systems  In Sharon’s Venn diagram, for example, the information is paired (linguistically, spatially, and via colour). The amount of information conveyed via linguistic text demonstrates a solid understanding of the content that was covered at the beginning of the unit, and the additional elements of spatial layout and colour, seem to indicate that her knowledge of the education system that she was already familiar with is providing a schema to learn about the education system in Canada. Sharon continued to access her knowledge of the education system in her home country throughout the projects in this unit. It is also significant that Sharon is showing mastery of language to complete this task that is well beyond expectations for the designated level of this class. She demonstrates excellent control of spelling, grammar and word order in her diagram, as well as an extended and accurate use of vocabulary. In the Companion Tables to the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) 2000, “Writing: Features of Tasks involving Presenting Information” for Level 3 describes appropriate tasks for this level as simple descriptions of the learner’s everyday life, people they  116 know, places they are familiar with, daily routines, etc. Criteria for successful execution of these writing tasks includes “adequate description”, “adequate use of simple structures”, “adequate vocabulary for topic”, and “adequate use of spelling and punctuation conventions”. In other words, at CLB 3 writing expectations are generally focused on descriptions of familiar ‘everyday’ life features, such as describing their activities for a given day, and a successful writing text is one that is merely “adequate” in conveying meaning. Although the learning tasks for this unit asked students to use English to describe concepts which went beyond such simple tasks as describing their family or daily routines, at least half of the knowledge that they were expressing was well-known to them even if they were still acquiring the skills to be able to express it in English. Although I have no direct proof that activating schema allowed them to acquire English language skills beyond expectations for this level, many of the students’ multimodal projects had linguistic components in English that were beyond expectations for Level 3. For example, although much of the language that appears in Sharon’s Venn diagram has been sourced from class handouts, the handouts were written in somewhat challenging language for CLB 3, and the clear and accurate way Sharon has used language in her project demonstrates not only that she has been able to engage with the texts provided but has been able to (re)present the information accurately. By any assessment, Sharon’s language use in describing the two educational systems goes beyond “adequate”. It must be noted that Sharon’s writing level upon intake to this class was higher than CLB3; significantly, this project allowed her to work at an appropriate difficulty beyond CLB3 so that her individual writing skills and vocabulary acquisition could continue to develop.  117  Figure 5-8: Sharon’s Identity Text – Writing Beyond CLB 3  5.2.5  Choice in Personal Revelations: Highly Personal to Highly Impersonal  Impersonal	
   (content:	
   education	
   system)	
    Semi-­‐ personal	
  	
   (content:	
   children's	
   experience)	
    Personal	
  	
   (content:	
   own	
   experience)	
    Figure 5-9: Level of Personal Content in Multimodal Projects  The projects were designed, with the possible exception of Research Task #2 (about one of their past teachers), to allow students to choose how personal or impersonal they wanted their content to be. The projects they produced certainly had a range of personal revelations. Some students only included impersonal content about education systems in Canada and their home country, while others used the projects as an opportunity to explore issues of identity and other sites of personal struggle/exploration. Sharon was at the impersonal end of the spectrum in her project work. I noted of her identity text project, similar to most of her work in the other multimodal projects, that: Sharon didn’t express very much of her own hopes/dreams or past experiences, mostly using the project to review the content that we’ve covered this month about the educational system in Canada – this project was very open so the fact that she resisted getting “personal” was a valid choice. She did display a huge amount of content knowledge. However, at the end of her final presentation, which like her other projects she had ‘read’, and after weeks of listening to her classmates often much more personal presentations, Sharon had a spontaneous and unscripted moment. I noted that:  118 …when she got towards the end [of her presentation] and veered off her poster to tell a story about how Wendy’s daughter is a role model for her daughter, she lit up and expressed herself much more confidently. Some students did use the projects as an opportunity to explore personal dilemmas, but it is possible that not all students who did projects about themselves chose personal explorations out of a need to explore their own identities and imagined futures, but because they were more comfortable talking about themselves than about their children. I noted with Lisa that: She doesn’t actually talk about her son very much. Maybe is more comfortable talking about herself than her son? 5.2.6  Education and Imagined Futures This unit of study was explicitly designed to be an avenue for exploring imagined  educational, and professional, futures for the students and/or their children. Most of the students, as expected, created projects that expressed either their hopes for their own and/or their children’s futures via education. The projects and the discussions that evolved from the presentations of the projects often became quite broad, branching into imagined “lifeworlds” (New London Group, 2000) as they sometimes but not always related to education. For example, I noted in my journal that Molly talked in her presentation of her final identity text project about wanting “to volunteer at my daughter’s school and have the opportunity to speak to all kinds of people, especially other parents”. I similarly noted that: “Sally feels that her life is “small” right now and that English skills will expand it.” Fluency in English was often referenced as vital to their future plans:  119  Figure 5-10: English and the Future (Elaine, Lisa, Aymie, and Sharon’s Graphic Organizers and Identity Texts)  5.2.7  Language Development The topic of education, particularly as explored through the multimodal projects, also  provided opportunities for English language development in several quite specific ways. Many students displayed significant vocabulary acquisition via this unit of work, which was evident in their multimodal projects, their oral presentations, their focus group interviews, and their reflection journals. As discussed in Chapter 4, students also independently sought out English words to express themselves more accurately - via dictionaries or the Internet or consulting family members with more advanced English language skills – but what impressed me was how the vocabulary they learned both in class and independently was used fluently and accurately in their projects and presentations. I noted that: A few read off their posters or pages, but it was actually the minority. The exercise of thinking about the topic, organizing their thoughts visually in whatever mode(s) they chose, creating/revising, and finally presenting meant that by the time they spoke to the class about their identity text, they performed with a fluency that some had never demonstrated previously this year. This was not the first time they’d done project work, but I think the combination of 4 projects/research tasks in 5 weeks coupled with a topic in which they were personally invested, created the perfect circumstances to push their language/content development at a rapid pace. (Teacher’s Log, May 30)  120 The nature of the multimodal learning tasks also provided practice in other language features that are taught at ELSA Level 3. For example, there was extensive use of the past tense (their past education, their decision to move to Canada) as well as future tense (their hopes for their or their children’s future). There is evidence of the use of transition words and conjunctions to show relationships between ideas (“at that time”, “in addition”, “because”, etc.), as well as comparatives to talk about the differences between education systems or their home country and Canada (“too relaxed”, “better”).  Figure 5-11: Andrea, Sharon, and Elaine’s Use of Transitions, Conjunctions, and Comparatives  During the presentations, there was extended practice in social/communicative language. The presenters were usually quite well-prepared and spoke fluently to express their meaning; the audience were usually listening actively and regularly used language to clarify, compliment, and  121 ask questions to obtain more information or to deepen comprehension. I noted from the first presentations (“SO ENGAGED”, Teacher’s Log, May 7) to their final projects (“students were a great audience for each other”, Teacher’s Log, May 31) that the students’ level of engagement as both presenters and audience members was high. I will discuss this further below in the section on investment and identity. 5.2.8  Key Points The topic of education in Canada, the content of this unit of teaching and learning, was  relevant to this research study in multiple ways. The topic was important to the students because their children’s education was a large motivation for moving to Canada and they were invested in helping their children succeed in the Canadian education system. The multimodal learning activities scaffolded students to make sense of large amounts of content learning by relating it to their own experiences, identities and imagined futures. Many students, however, were concerned about reductive bilingualism resulting from their children learning in an English language school system; the projects allowed them space to express these concerns while simultaneously providing them with content learning and language development opportunities. The students’ extensive background knowledge was also used as a resource for both content and language learning; in fact, for language development, the students with higher levels of knowledge were not limited to the designated class level, but were able to work at their more advanced levels to keep developing language skills. Students had agency to decide how personal or impersonal they wanted their project content to be. This seemed to address individual student’s learning needs in diverse ways; students who wanted to explore personal identity issues or their imagined futures in addition to the content learning about education had space to do so, but students who were uncomfortable revealing personal information could focus solely on the content learning.  122 5.3  Investment and Identity  Identity	
  as	
  'Good'	
   Mothers/'Good'	
  Students	
    Children's	
   education	
    (primary	
  factor	
  in	
   immigration	
  decision;	
   ongoing	
  priority)	
    Investment	
   in	
  this	
  unit	
   of	
  learning	
    Figure 5-12: Interrelationship Between Identity, Topic, and Investment During the Education Unit  The themes of investment and identity seemed to be closely correlated in this study. All of the participating students in this study were ‘good’ mothers and ‘good’ students; it was important to them to perform well in those roles, and, in my opinion, they were successfully doing so. Their identities as caring parents were instrumental in the decision to move to Canada, because the decision to move to Canada was, without exception, at least partially, if not solely, because of educational opportunities for their children. Their new identities of newcomers to Canada had come with great cost in terms of careers, social networks, etc., but these immigrant identities intersected with their parental identities, with both identities seemingly at the core of their investment in learning about the education system that their children were now enrolled in. It was clear from the first week of the unit of study that the content was important to almost all of the students. The first multimodal projects that they presented, the Venn diagrams setting out the similarities and differences between features of the education system in British Columbia and in their home country, were shared in groups. All the groups were engaged in this task, particularly “Group 1” about whom I noted in my journal: May 7: Group 1…was the last group to finish – Molly explained that “they talked so much, too much”. SO ENGAGED in their presentations. Very keen to share their diagrams/information and to learn about the other’s countries/ideas…. EVERYONE seemed engaged. Even the shyer students… wanted their turn – no reluctance noted.  123 The level of investment in this unit of study was so marked that I did question at first whether or not the commitment to the work – including both time spent and quality of projects – was because the students were aware that this unit was part of a research study which would be shared with UBC professors and eventually be publicly available; framed in terms of identity, I questioned whether their identities as ‘good’ students alone was driving the levels of investment I was witnessing. It quickly became evident, however, that the level of investment seemed unlikely to be correlated to their participation in this research project. Four new students joined the class between May 3rd and May 14th, too late for the consent process, so were not part of the study. Although I did not know which of the ‘old’ students had consented to participate in the study until the end of term, the ‘new’ students – students who were definitely not part of the study –were as invested in their multimodal projects as their classmates. Their interview excerpts, although not part of this study, were similarly positive about both the content learned and the multimodal learning tasks. Although there was mention of the fact that I was conducting a research project during this unit of work, it was also clear that only the consenting students’ data would be used in the study. There is a possibility that levels of investment were socialized, but there is also a strong possibility that the levels of investment do not correlate to the fact that this curriculum unit was also a research project. The deep levels of investment were also notable considering that students received no academic credit for completing the ELSA program, although successful graduation from Level 3 does entitle the student to an additional 400 hours of instruction at Level 4. As of November 2012, new rules for citizenship applicants require proof of Level 4 English, but these rules were not in effect at the time of this study, nor was it known that this requirement would be in effect in the near future. Conversations with students indicate that they were largely motivated to develop  124 their English language skills and knowledge of life in Canada, such as the education system, for reasons that could be more readily attributed to intrinsic rather than extrinsic rewards. If they are able to develop their ability to communicate in English, the largest benefits to them are not course credits or good ‘grades’, but an enhanced quality of life for both them and their children. All of the students, as mothers, were deeply invested in their children’s success, and wanted to do everything they could as ‘good’ mothers to support their success.  Figure 5-13: Excerpts From Research Task #3 and #4 Showing Students’ Commitment to Their Children’s Education (Sharon and Sally)  5.3.1  Multiple Identities The multimodal projects were a space for expression of multiple identities. All the  students in this study seemed to have embraced the identities of mother and student, as discussed above, although there were indications that these sites of identity were not without judgment (see below on perfectionism). Their cultural identities, however, tended to be more complicated. As discussed in Chapter 2, Pavlenko and Lantolf talk about ““border crossing” as being one of first  125 loss of and then “(re)construction of selves” (2000, p. 155). Participants in ELSA programs can be in any stage from loss to well along the road to “(re)construction” of identities, including resisting shifts in cultural and linguistic identity. While some of the students did not give any evidence of conflict in terms of either cultural or linguistic identity (e.g. Lisa), others seemed to be in a process of negotiating how much to embrace new Canadian identities while still retaining their first culture identities. For some students, great pride in their first language was noted, and these students seemed especially concerned that their children embrace their first language and culture as well. I noted that Frances, for example: … is enjoying planting a garden and homemaking in Canada. She says her husband is her “best example” of the Canadian education system. He was born and educated in Canada and she feels he is very “friendly” and happy. She feels the Canadian education system and childhood makes people happy. She is concerned, however, that her children keep speaking [their first language] as they grow up. In most respects Sara was happy to be a woman of her culture. She wanted her son to be fluent in his first language and be a citizen of both her home country and Canada. She was contemplating returning to her home country for a period of time, but said during her presentation of her graphic organizer on the decision to move to Canada (Research Task #3) that in the event that she had a daughter, she would likely not ever return to live there because of women’s rights: Sara said that her reason for moving to Canada was [her son]. She started with that and moved to the specifics. She talked quite a bit about the political situation in [her home country]. She said that Canada has better equality for women. In [her home country], women now have pretty equal access to education – including up to PhDs – but once they are employed, men will make significantly more with the same qualifications. She also said that women have more pressure to dress in certain ways, for example they have to wear dresses every day and never wear jeans, and this is dictated by men.  126 As discussed in Chapter 4, some of the students embraced these projects as an opportunity to examine their identities and their imagined futures, especially because of their circumscribed lives as mothers/homemakers/students when, formerly, few of them had experienced much marginalization. Linda was articulate about her identities of professor/researcher clashing with her current roles as visiting scholar/homemaker in the data I presented in the previous chapter. I noted in my observations on the presentation of her identity text that: Linda was really able to express her academic identity which she doesn’t express very often in class. (May 30) She also expressed her cultural and linguistic identity in her PowerPoint. In fact, it was almost impossible for her to explain her research in the field of applied physics, so, in the end, the presentation did briefly make a linguistic switch to Mandarin. Even in Mandarin, however, it was difficult for her to explain her work to us because no one in the classroom – staff, volunteers, or students – had any knowledge about her area of expertise. I noted in my journal that: The content was very difficult to explain when explaining her educational background and area of research; Mandarin students asked her questions in Mandarin and she replied in Mandarin. Linda’s PowerPoint was also bilingual to a greater extent than any of the other identity texts produced throughout this research period, even though I had made it clear on several occasions that they could use as many modes as they wanted in their multimodal projects, including not limiting themselves to English linguistically. The inclusion of first language text in Linda’s PowerPoint seemed to be an assertion of pride in her first language and first culture. As discussed in Chapter 4, although all participating students were invested in being ‘good mothers’, many were struggling with the identity of mother overtaking any other identities  127 they might want to claim. Some students, such as Aymie and Linda, seemed comfortable exploring these identity issues in their multimodal projects. During the presentations, it emerged that some of the students who did not explicitly explore these themes in their work were also struggling with circumstances that limited them to the identities of mother and language learner. Elaine’s multimodal projects, for example, focused mostly on her daughter’s educational experiences with the exception of Research Task #2, her “teacher” poster. During her presentation of the third multimodal project about her decision to move to Canada, however, I noted that: May 22: [Elaine]’s interested in eventually going to post-secondary school here and “become an accountant” – she said she wants to gain “theoretical knowledge”. She seemed very embarrassed to express this educational goal for herself. All of the students in this class, participating and non-participating, were in an extended phase of sacrificing their own needs and large facets of their former identities (professionals, possessors of dominant language skills, etc.) for their children. For some of them it seemed difficult to express identities that were outside of ‘mother’, almost as if they felt selfish for having personal goals unrelated to their ‘mother’ identities. I believe that the multimodal projects almost became a dialogue amongst the students with the result that students like Aymie and Linda created projects that ‘spoke’ to other students who might be privately feeling that their identities were circumscribed by their life circumstances. Elaine did not feel comfortable talking about her own goals and imagined future, but possibly because other students had opened up the discussion to these types of struggles, Elaine eventually was able to express her own goals orally, even if she did not include these elements of her identity in her project work.  128 5.3.2  Positive Reinforcement of Learner Identities Many students designed multimodal projects that demonstrated pride in their multiple  identities, including their first culture identities. As discussed in Chapter 3, an identity text “holds a mirror up to students in which their identities are reflected back in a positive light” (Cummins & Early, 2011, p.3). Many of the projects employed first culture symbolism, which was one of many ways that students were accessing outside-of-classroom knowledge for meaning-making. Further, not only was their first culture an important part of their identity, but they also felt comfortable displaying first culture affiliations in their presented projects. I noted of Research Task #3: May 22: Judy had a picture of a lamb on her poster. She didn’t mention it in her presentation so I asked her why she included that picture. She said it was because she was born in the year of the sheep [in the Chinese zodiac] so the lamb represents her. 5.3.3  The Authentic Communicative Experience of Sharing Publicly – Teacher’s Perspective Whether or not students were participating in this research project, within the microcosm  of the classroom the aspect of ‘presenting’ their work publicly did seem to increase investment. Many of the students were positive about presenting their work as I noted in my journal after the first focus group interview: Most of them expressed appreciation that they had to explain/talk about their posters – putting it into English as a final task had great learning value they thought. As discussed in Chapter 4, many of the students, for example Sara, spoke about working hard because they wanted to be respected by their classmates. Some students, although nervous about presenting to the class, surpassed their own expectations with respect to being able to express themselves in English. Several began by nervously reading off of their projects, but quickly progressed to speaking fluently without notes. I noted in my journal, for example, that in her final presentation, “Molly got more confident as she went on. Started reading and then went  129 to speaking.” I noted similarly about Elaine’s third project that “Elaine was quite hesitant when she read off of her poster, but when she spoke about it she was very confident. She has no idea how good her English is!” I believe that the process of designing their projects – going through the process of considering Available Designs, then Designing, then creating their Redesigned projects (NLG, 2000, p.23) – resulted in them really ‘knowing’ their material such that almost all were able to speak, in English, about their projects without much consultation of notes. I made the general observation on the identity text presentations that: Regardless of the mode of the presentations, students found great value – and did an amazing job! – doing the actual presentation to the class (i.e. talking about it). A few read off their posters or pages, but it was actually the minority. The exercise of thinking about the topic, organizing their thoughts visually in whatever mode(s) they chose, creating/revising, and finally presenting meant that by the time they spoke to the class about their identity text, they performed with a fluency that some had never demonstrated previously this year. This was not the first time they’d done project work, but I think the combination of 4 projects/research tasks in 5 weeks coupled with a topic in which they were personally invested, created the perfect circumstances to push their language/content development at a rapid pace. 5.3.4  Mothers and Children There were some interesting collaborations between the students and their children to  produce the multimodal projects; this, to me, was the most surprising result from this study. I noted in my journal that: Really interesting that for a number of students, Elaine, Aymie, Linda, they worked with their children, asked for their help. It became a joint project in some cases – either with the children contributing drawings or giving feedback. I think this was partially because the project was an identity text and asked them to think about their children’s education and future; but I also think it went beyond this. It seems, from student’s comments, that the children who got involved were actually interested in their mother’s homework. The students involved their children in creation of their projects in two distinct ways, depending on the age of the children, as discussed in Chapter 4. Older children, whose English skills tended to be more advanced than their mothers’, were recruited as consultants, cheerleaders, and contributing artists; younger children were mostly recruited as artists.  130 Although I had done other multimodal projects with the students prior to the research project, the involvement of the children was far beyond what I had ever witnessed. I noted that: In some cases, like Aymie’s, involving her 5-year-old daughter allowed her to complete homework which without engaging her daughter would have been difficult to finish; in other cases, such as Judy and Linda’s, the children seemed to offer advice and help especially in writing their English text; in yet other cases, the children had artistic talents and were recruited as contributing partners…. I hadn’t seen anywhere near this level of involvement in prior project work!! Linda, for example, spoke about being more interested in the multimodal project work because her daughter was willing to be involved as a critic. Linda: “I am interested in doing the work because my daughter some, at something… my daughter sometime say, “This is not good.” Or sometimes say, “Is good. So, I’m very interested.” Some of the students with older children did not feel that their projects were ‘ready’ until they received ‘final approval’ from their children. Judy, for example, talked about how her son gave his approval of her project: Judy: [Her son] Help me and uh uh when I finish, uh, uh he looks at all and “is good” at me.” It was interesting that I was not able to identify any themes in the data of parent/child identity reversal that could be interpreted as problematic. For these research participants whose families were in transition, the children possessing more linguistic, and often cultural, knowledge than the parents was viewed positively. This study was not designed to explore this question, however, partly because the level of involvement of the children was an unexpected finding, and therefore further study may be warranted. 5.3.5  Key Points Despite a lack of extrinsic rewards such as academic credit, students seemed to be  invested in their multimodal projects based on the amount of time spent and the depth of their  131 work. Their investment seemed to correlate to their identities as ‘good’ mother and ‘good’ student; as ‘good’ mothers, they wanted to understand and support their children’s education in Canada and as ‘good’ students, they wanted to perform well in class. The fact that the projects were a space in which they could explore multiple identities, especially those beyond ‘mother’, and have these identities positively reinforced by a supportive audience when they engaged in the authentic communicative experience of sharing publicly, also seemed to increase investment. Finally, the multimodal projects were learning tasks through which they could engage in their identities as both mothers and students. The inversion of roles between students and older children, with the children being advisors or judges in addition to contributors, did not seem to be problematic for the students in this study. 5.4  The Unique Characteristics of Adult Learners Adult immigrant language classes in Canada are incredibly diverse in terms of students’  educational, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds, as well as learning needs. By the very nature of ESL, as opposed to EFL, there is usually diversity of background in terms of language and culture. Although not as diverse as some adult ESL classrooms, this class had students from five countries who spoke a total of ten languages excepting English, although the participating students in this study only represented three languages/cultures/countries. In terms of educational background, the participating students all had completed a post-secondary education, their educational backgrounds ranging from vocational training to doctorate degree. 5.4.1  Levels of Skills Students assigned to an ELSA Level 3 class, roughly translated as “high beginner”,  would have been assessed as having rudimentary English skills in most areas. However, within a Level 3 class, it uncommon to have students with uniformly Level 3 skills in all areas. For  132 example, Linda had reading and writing skills significantly higher than the benchmarks but Level 3 listening and speaking skills, whereas Sara’s speaking and listening skills were higher than Level 3, but her writing at intake was below Level 3. Most of the participating students were somewhere in between on a continuum of skill levels. 5.4.2  Examining Learning Processes The focus groups conducted as part of data collection for this study were catalysts for  interesting discussions with the students, participating and non-participating, about their learning processes. For most of the students, engaging in multimodal learning tasks was a new experience for them. I believe that the focus group data indicate that most students were conscious of how they were engaging with these tasks, which, with hindsight, is not surprising considering that they were all well-educated adults with lifetimes of learning in both formal and informal situations. I noted after the first focus group: Students overall were more willing to talk about their learning process than I thought they might be. The students in my group were quite articulate given their language level…. Frances is very thoughtful in how she engages with learning English. She was able to describe with accuracy the stages of putting together her poster (first think in Japanese, then use pictures, then try to express her thoughts in English – she found this process really helpful to learning). As discussed in the last chapter, participants reported that creating the multimodal projects had benefits for learning that included longer retention of new content and vocabulary, as well as a focus for their self-directed learning. Some students were specific about the benefits for their learning, including Linda and Sara (see Chapter 4). 	
   Section 5.4.3 below discusses how these adult learners engaged with the multimodal tasks in further detail.	
    133 5.4.3  Multimodal Projects For many of the students, working on the multimodal projects as learning tasks was a  foreign way to learn. Some students seemed to embrace the possibilities rapidly and for various reasons, such as working with their children (e.g. Aymie’s identity text, as discussed in Chapter 4) or having a chance to utilize non-linguistic modes of meaning making (e.g. Sara’s beautifully drawn birds in her identity text). For other students, however, the projects as a whole were a linked progression of learning experiences. I noted that many of the students embraced the multimodality of the tasks as the unit of work progressed. For example, after the presentations of Research Task #2 I noted that: May 14: This project overall was more multimodal than #1. More visuals used, more use of colour, more non-linguistic symbols such as arrows, etc. Linda, in her final project, used images well to express aspects of her identity. I noted in my journal that: Multimodality – I like that Linda included 2 significant pictures of herself. These pictures had no text and she explained their significance verbally. They showed 2 really important aspects of her life in China – her professional and cultural life – neither of which she is able to duplicate in Canada, although over time she might find other outlets. They are a huge part of this identity text and obviously very important parts of her identity: university professor/researcher and proud Chinese citizen. I further noted of Linda’s PowerPoint project that: It is interesting that she had the logo and name of her university in [home city] – in both English and Chinese – at the top of every slide. Again, this is a huge part of her identity. 5.4.4  A Community of Learners Within this class of learners, there were great similarities and great differences, but as a  group I found them cohesive and supportive. They drew support from their shared challenges and experiences, and gave and received respect for their individual experiences, strengths, and knowledge. The similarities amongst the participating students were numerous: all women, all  134 mothers, all landed immigrants, all English language learners, etc. The diversity of knowledge, talents, experiences, career backgrounds, and personal attributes amongst the individuals that comprised this class was also extensive, however. The multimodal projects built community because they positively showcased both the similarities that drew them together and also the differences that expressed individual identities, experiences, knowledge, and talents. Further, through the multimodal projects, these commonalities and differences were explored and not assumed. As discussed above, in addition to learning about the local education system, we were all, including myself, learning about education systems in several countries. The students in this class, whether or not they were participating in the study, were supportive of each other. I noted in my general observations about the presentations of Research Task #4, the identity text projects, that: Students were a great audience for each other. They stayed focused through all the presentations, asked questions, reacted to really interesting or surprising revelations with oohs and aahs, laughed a lot, sympathized with difficult situations, said “yes” out loud when it was something they could identify with – were just incredibly engaged. The questions and comments were overt indications that they understood each other. Every year I notice some interesting learning alliances that develop. In this class, one of the most interesting alliances was between Linda and Sara – two students who had diverse linguistic, cultural, and educational backgrounds. I noted in my journal that: [Linda] loves to work with Sara – Sara… has the lowest level of education [in the class] with vocational training and Linda has the most. They really gravitate towards working together, though, because Sara is so strong in speaking and listening and Linda values that and knows that working with Sara helps her develop those aspects of her English skills. 5.4.5  Perfectionism One interesting aspect of teaching a class of well-educated, former professionals is the  high standards they hold themselves to, despite the fact that letter grades and credits are not at  135 issue. They work hard and are self-denigrating about their English abilities. After introducing Research Task #4 via PowerPoint, I noted that: May 23, 2012: Introduction of Research Task 4 – identity texts. Students were quite serious during PowerPoint presentation. When I gave them the set of questions to help them think about their project, I had to make clear that they didn’t need to answer every question!! They laughed with relief, seemed to acknowledge that they would have tried to do that if I hadn’t made it clear that they didn’t have to. I said that I didn’t want Wendy staying up to 1:00 am again like she had with #3. They laughed again. There are probably multiple reasons for the perfectionism, but for many of the students in this study a probable partial reason is the fact that almost all are still adjusting from having fulltime, challenging careers to being full-time mothers and homemakers. The ELSA program is the only outlet many of them have for intellectual activities. Because of their English level, many activities are relatively basic (e.g. high beginner grammar, vocabulary acquisition, etc.) but despite the fact that the class work is not overly difficult, or possibly because it is, they tend to look at any mistake as evidence of failure. Knowing how hard they worked, and how high their internal standards were, I tried to make sure that they had class time available to work on projects so that they were not missing sleep to complete assignments. I noted after assigning Research Task #4: Told them that they will have class time Monday/Tuesday to work on their projects, but they could work on them at home too if they wanted. I suspect some of them will arrive in class on Monday with their projects finished. I must take extra work in for those who don’t need time for their identity texts. I noted during the final presentations that: I was still witnessing denigration of their own work, to an extent, but I also witnessed great pride in their work. It seemed important to them to express their ideas and feelings on this subject; and most of them seemed satisfied that they had been able to express themselves adequately. I’m still worried, though, that they still lack confidence that their English is improving rapidly enough. These are smart, educated women and their standards are... I think many of them expect perfection from themselves. I… hope that I can impress on them how they have “exceeded expectations” this month.  136 Sally was one of the most self-critical students in the study and had little confidence in her ability to increase her English language skills. I noted in my journal that: Sally started [her presentation] by calling her poster “ugly” compared to the other students – very hard on herself! Even Linda, who was almost always “positive, happy, hopeful” (journal entry, May 30) felt that becoming an advanced English speaker was not a realistic goal. Although, overall, she had great confidence in her intellect and her ability to learn, I noted in my reflection on her presentation that: She said that she didn’t think she could become a professor here in Canada so would not try to go that route. She said it’s not good when students can’t understand the professor and she doesn’t think she could ever attain that high a level of English. 5.4.6  Key Points The adult learners in this study had some unique characteristics when compared to  learners in other educational contexts. Although sharing the commonalities of gender, immigrant status, etc., the students in this class also had diverse skills, knowledge, educational backgrounds, and learning needs. In the focus group interviews, both participating and nonparticipating students were asked to examine their learning processes during this unit of study; the discussions revealed that they had engaged consciously with the learning tasks and were able to discuss their learning processes articulately considering that the focus groups were largely conducted in English. Some students fully embraced the multimodal aspect of the learning tasks from the first project, but others seemed to embrace multimodality more as the projects progressed. The students came together through the multimodal learning projects as a community of learners – supporting each other in both their commonalities and differences. Almost every student in this study was, in my opinion, overly self-critical in self-assessing both  137 language learning abilities and class work, possibly because they bring the standards of their previous educational and career experiences to this non-academic environment. 5.5  The Student-Teacher Relationship Adult ESL for immigrant learners, in my experience, is a unique learning environment  with respect to the teacher-student relationship. Similar to elementary school in Canada, the students are with the teacher on a daily basis in a relatively small class and therefore can get to know each other well. Intensifying this relationship is the content aspect of the learning – each month’s topic relates to the students’ lives outside of the classroom in ways both practical (understanding and navigating the health and education systems) and aspirational (relating to identities, both prescribed and desired, and imagined futures). Most students are generous in sharing details about their personal lives via class discussions and learning tasks; I think that the relationship between the students and teacher must be one of trust and respect in order for them to share their lives outside of the classroom. 5.5.1  The Student-Teacher Relationship Outside of the Study Classroom In Research Task #2, the students explored an influential (good or bad) teacher from their  past. All students, except Lisa, chose a good teacher. I noted in my journal: I think the project design needed tweaking to focus more on an examination of how the teacher designed learning tasks – i.e. how did they help/not help learning so that [students] could extend the exercise more explicitly to figure out how they learned. After most [students] presented, I asked about this and only a couple could actually answer (e.g. Linda who said that the teacher used models, pictures, physical manipulatives to teach math effectively). A project that was designed to explore each student’s understanding of how they learn became much more a project about the relationships between teachers and students. Students talked  138 about a number of aspects that were important in making a teacher-student relationship a positive force for learning. I made the following note after their presentations: FUN – most students talked in their presentations about their [good] influential teacher’s class being “fun” or “interesting”, or the teacher being “funny.” The most common thread running through the “influential teacher” projects, however, was that good teachers they talked about were overwhelmingly supportive, both personally and academically. Frances spoke of a past teacher coming to visit her regularly when she was hospitalized as a child. During her presentation, she spoke of the support she felt from this teacher:  Figure 5-14: Frances’s Word Web of a Teacher From Her Past  Aymie, similarly, spoke of a personal connection with a university professor who had been influential in her choice to study chemistry. With hindsight, Aymie expressed regret for the decision not to study math, but remained grateful to have a teacher who believed in and encouraged her abilities.  139  Figure 5-15: Aymie’s Word Web About a Teacher From Her Past  Although Aymie’s teacher apparently “looks like a Buddha”, Elaine’s influential teacher actually was a Buddha master. Of all her past teachers, she chose someone outside of the school system because of the profound influence this ‘teacher’ had had on her life.  Figure 5-16: Elaine’s Word Web About a Teacher From Her Past  140 Elaine’s poster had minimal linguistic content, although in other projects, particularly her final identity text, she wrote extensively. With this project, however, she was clearly focusing on speaking skills and did speak fluently about her project. Like Frances and Aymie, it was clear that this ‘teacher’ had made a personal connection with Elaine, but of all the projects this one seemed to depict a radical life-changing experience. Elaine spoke of being unhappy prior to her contact with this teacher (“easily angered”, “very tired”, “no interest in doing anything”) but completely transformed after being taught by this teacher (“life can be good”). She depicted her life “now” as a balloon with a happy face. 5.5.2  The Teacher-Student Relationship in This Study I believe that my relationship with my students is very important. As discussed above,  the ELSA program has a dual mandate: 1) to teach language skills; and 2) to teach about topics that will assist the student to settle in British Columbia. Students’ needs, both in terms of language support and content instruction, vary greatly from year to year and the more that I am able to get to know each student – both in terms of in class and out of class ‘lives’ – the better I am able to monitor learning needs on an ongoing basis. The roster of students is also in constant flux as we can graduate students at any point in the year, and we have a policy of constant intake as long as there are spots available in the class. Further, because of numerous factors such as educational background, length of time in Canada, and level of English skills (which can be Level 2 in one area, and Level 6 in another, even though they have been designated Level 3 overall), curriculum design is necessarily general and its implementation needs to be adaptable to the many needs of the students – both as a whole and individually. Keeping informed of what those needs are is best served by a good knowledge of the students’ backgrounds – professional, educational, and sometimes personal – as well as current and future goals.  141 In addition to my role as their teacher of language and Canadian settlement topics, I am also the main contact most of them have with a “Canadian”. In my experience teaching adult ESL in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, I have noticed that most of my students have been successful in finding first language and first culture networks here. In addition, many make friends with other immigrants, both within and outside their first language and culture, in ELSA classes. Although a few students over the years have reported making friends with ‘Canadians’ such as neighbours, most report that they have little contact beyond their first language/first culture group outside of class. As a result, for the vast majority of immigrant students with the level of English that my students have attained, I become the major contact with the dominant culture and language. I feel that my relationship to the students includes the responsibility to be an ambassador for their adopted country – if I express interest in knowing them as individuals, they might feel more welcomed to Canada. In addition to the above, many students arrive to this class in a state of vulnerability. In Canada, they lack the social and linguistic capital that they possessed in their home country. If students have lived in Canada for several years, they are usually fairly settled into their Canadian lives, with children who have settled into the school system and a network of friends. They are still ‘fine-tuning’ their knowledge of Canada, such as their understanding of the school system, but they are not usually in a state of ‘shock’. Many students, however, arrive in an ELSA class shortly after arriving in Canada, or are just seeking out an English language program after providing several years of full-time care to very young children. These students need a lot of support and encouragement that life, and English, will get easier. Linda joined the class after only being in Canada for three months. Although confident in many respects – she was also doing research at a local university as a visiting scholar – she  142 was adjusting to a loss of prestige on many levels, much of which she traced not only to lack of English skills, but also to her belief that she would never acquire advanced English abilities. Linda graduated in less than half of her allotted time for ELSA 3 as her English progressed quickly. She believed that part of her success in the class was because I believed in her abilities and regularly encouraged her. She wrote in her journal: …my teacher is informal in the class. We all call her Susan directly. Relationship bettwen Susan and me is friend. It is impossible that it is so informal between the teacher and the student in [home country]. Susan is paiteint and alway encourage me when I have difficulties in studing. “You are OK” is the most speakes she have ever said and I like best. Getting to know the students, however, is not difficult. Typical of most ELSA programs, this class meets four days every week and runs for ten months of the year. Although students do not always stay for the full year – they may be ready to graduate early or they may leave for personal reasons – the length of time and the frequency of the classes creates a learning situation and relationship between students and teacher that is more similar to K-7 teaching contexts than most adult education contexts in Canada, such as college or university. 5.5.3  Key Points Students identified a warm, supportive relationship with teachers as being conducive to  learning in Research Task #2. Specifically for this research study, students described my relationship with them as warm, informal, and supportive; I put conscious effort into achieving such a relationship with my students because I think knowing them well and being positive about their abilities and work helps them both inside and outside of my classroom as they adjust to life in Canada. I believe that my relationship with my students is important, both in pedagogical terms (identifying learning needs, challenges, and goals, etc.) and in personal terms (supporting the students through their transitions as newcomers to Canada, supporting their imagined futures,  143 positively affirming their identities, etc.) The multimodal projects facilitated a good studentteacher relationship with the students in this study by allowing students to express themselves in ways that helped me learn about them as individuals, which in turn assisted me to meet their learning needs. The multimodal projects also facilitated expression of the students’ identities, which allowed me, as their teacher, to affirm those identities and increase overall investment in the learning tasks. Students in adult ESL programs such as ELSA have concentrated contact hours; students in this program met for twelve hours over four weekdays every week, which is significantly more than many academic adult educational contexts; the intensive schedule facilitates a strong student-teacher relationship. 5.6  Summary This chapter discussed how the multimodal learning tasks, as designed, translated into the  learning tasks in practice. Tasks #1, #3, and #4 all supported language and content learning as predicted and had a high level of investment, as hoped. Task #2, however, was only marginally successful in terms of a hoped-for outcome that students reflected upon and learned about their own learning processes, although it did explore the area of student-teacher relationships while providing an opportunity for language development with high levels of investment. Themes identified in the teacher observation data included the topic of education in Canada, investment and identity, the unique characteristics and needs of adult learners, and the student-teacher relationship. Overall, my observations of the students as they engaged with the topic, created their multimodal projects, and shared their projects publicly with the class was that the depth of the students’ work in their projects, and the fluent performances when presenting their projects, are a strong argument that the multimodal learning tasks provided good  144 opportunities for both content learning and language development. Further, students were invested in doing the multimodal work. The final chapter is a discussion of these findings and implications for future research.  145  6  Emerging Understandings and Implications  “… adult ELLs studying nonacademic English remain an understudied population in the academic scholarship on second-language acquisition (SLA) and education” (Mathews-Aydinli, 2008, p. 199) “The need to rethink what it means to learn and to be literate is a thread that runs through much multimodal educational research.” (Jewitt, 2008, p. 362)  In Canada, millions of dollars are invested annually in government-funded language programs for immigrants and tens of thousands of newcomers enrol in these programs each year hoping to improve their lives with increased language skills. The Government of British Columbia reported of their language programs (ELSA) for 2010-2011 that: “96% of Level 4/5 workplace clients and 94% of Level 4/5 regular clients improved their English ability; 77% of Literacy to Level 3 clients improved their English ability” (Government of British Columbia 2010-2011 Annual Report, p. 10), but is unclear how these percentages were arrived at or what pedagogical approaches are being used effectively to support language and content learning. Despite the fact that research into multimodal pedagogical approaches and multiliteracies has shown great promise with younger English language learners in the K-12 school system in Canada, there been a lack of scholarly inquiry with adult immigrant learners in this area. This study attempts to begin to address that gap. I will not attempt to make claims that could be generalized to Canadian adult ESL as a whole in this chapter because as a small qualitative case study the emerging understandings from this research project are specific to the thirteen participants. I believe it is important, however, to consider how this multimodal, multilingual identity text project supported learning for this particular group of students insofar as the emerging understandings indicate areas for further study. Existing research for immigrant ESL learners and multiliteracies pedagogical practices has largely been conducted with children. Although this research can be mined for results and  146 informally adapted by adult ESL teachers, there are differences between children and adults and it is not sufficient to generalize results from one group to another. Almost all ELSA 3 learners, including those who participated in this study, have a high school education and the majority have post secondary education and professional experience – these learners have vast amounts of knowledge and skills for learning which a child does not yet possess. It is imperative that research is undertaken which identifies these differences as strengths and explores how best to harness previous knowledge for present learning. The first section of this chapter revisits how the emerging understandings from this study relate to previous scholarship in the areas of identity, imagined communities and language learning, New Literacy Studies, social semiotics, and multimodality. Emerging understandings will be summarized from Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 of this thesis (please see these chapters for more detailed discussion of the data). The remaining sections will address pedagogical implications and implications for future research. 6.1  Emerging Understandings Framed in Relation to Existing Research Many of the themes identified in the data from this study support understandings from  previous studies or reframe them in an adult context. The following themes will be discussed: affordances for meaning-making, the benefits of ‘thinking’, agency, self-directed learning that is relevant to students’ lives, working with children, the authentic communicative experience of sharing publicly, identity texts, investment, accessing prior knowledge as a resource for learning, critical thinking, the topic of education in Canada, the unique characteristics of adult learners, competing responsibilities, a community of learners, and the student-teacher relationship.  147 6.1.1  Affordances for Meaning-Making One of the significant themes that was repeatedly identified in students’ focus group  discussions, their journal entries, and my observations was the affordances of multimodal learning. Jewitt refers to the differing abilities of semiotic modes to carry meaning as “affordances”. The participants in this study discussed their conscious choice of different modes as explicitly affording them different potentials for meaning-making. Linda and Sara, for example, said that some of the visuals they chose to include were able to convey meaning that they felt incapable of expressing linguistically in English. This supports Steins’s findings that individuals are not using semiotic resources neutrally but with negotiation as to “what the signmaker ‘wanted to say’ or ‘needed to say’ and what ‘it was possible to say’ at that moment” (Stein, 2008, p. 22). The semiotic resources used by the students included linguistic (English and a small amount of first languages), visuals, colour, and shapes, and had been acquired from many sources: first culture, Canadian culture, prior education, prior professional experience, previous units of study in this class, etc. As such, the affordances for meaning-making in the multimodal pedagogical approach employed in this study allowed learning to be scaffolded by the students’ Funds of Knowledge (Moll, 1992). Kress (2009) further argues that: Given the principle that signs function as concepts, we can say that concepts are the result of the work of the sign-maker and represent their interest in relation to the world that is in focus. As a consequence, the semiotic, as much as the conceptual resources of the individual, is the result of their work in their engagement with their (social and cultural) world. (p. 30) The participants in this study ranged in age from early 30s to late 40s. They had a long history of “engagement” with their “world(s)” and therefore the multimodal learning tasks allowed them to utilize resources that would “represent their interest in relation to the world that is in focus”. As Kress says, “[c]ommunication – as transport and transformation of meaning – is hugely extended in a multimodal approach to semiosis” (2000, p. 189). Linda said that through the  148 affordances of multimodal meaning-making, “all people can understand my means”. She used pictures strategically to assert her identity and carry layers of meaning beyond what might have been afforded by an English-only linguistic text, regardless of her current ability to express herself in English. Kress’s theory of multimodality supports the interpretation that Linda, and other participants in this study, were not using pictures simply to avoid working in English but because “humans use many means available in their cultures for representation precisely because these offer differing potentials, both for representation and communication” (2000, p. 194). 6.1.2  The Benefits of ‘Thinking’ There were many benefits other than the affordances of multimodal meaning-making  reported by the participants and noted in my observations. Many students talked about the benefits of the “thinking” required to create their multimodal projects. The process of designing their projects drew on an extended variety of the semiotic resources they had available – attained outside and inside this classroom. Arguments have been made in the K-12 educational context supporting “the logic of enabling newcomer students to use the cognitive tools they bring to the classroom” (Leoni et al., 2011, p. 54). The participants’ feedback supports the emerging understanding that the adults in this study engaged similarly to how children in previous studies have responded to multimodal projects, using all the cognitive tools they had at their disposal to complete learning tasks which extended their content learning and language development. 6.1.3  Agency The multimodal learning tasks also empowered students to have agency over how they  focused their learning, particularly language development. Some students, such as Linda, chose to design a multimodal project that challenged her to speak extensively, her weakest area of language development. Others, such as Sharon and Sara, chose to focus on their strongest skills  149 with the result that they received positive feedback by displaying their strengths. This was significant because of the relationship between agency, the social construction of identity, and power and supports Morita’s findings that the students in her study “attempted to shape their own learning and participation by exercising their personal agency and actively negotiating their roles or positionalities in their classroom communities.” (2004, p. 590). Further, the New London Group comes to the conclusion that “[d]esigning restores human agency and cultural dynamism to the process of meaning-making” (2000, p. 36). Although this is pertinent to learners of any age, I believe that this is definitely significant for adult immigrant learners who are frequently marginalized and sometimes infantilized outside of the classroom because of lack of English skills. A pedagogical approach that empowers students with the agency to design their own learning, at least for a portion of the curriculum, contributes to a classroom environment that respects the students as capable. A possible weakness of the multimodal projects in terms of student agency to choose which modes to convey meaning in is that students have the option of avoiding their weakest skills. Sara, for example, did not challenge herself to write extensively in English, although writing was her weakest skill, by far. Sharon, as well, avoided challenges in her projects. Unlike Sara, she was strongest in writing skills and weakest in speaking skills but, like Sara, she designed a project that mostly utilized her stronger skills. Sharon included a lot of writing in her projects and, when presenting, she mostly read out what she had written.  150  Figure 6-1: Sara’s Visually Dominated and Sharon’s Linguistically Dominated Projects  I think it is significant, though, that although a minority of students chose not to design projects which challenged weaker language skills in designing their multimodal projects, the projects retained benefits for learning. For both students, the identity texts did function as “mirrors” to reflect back positive affirmation of identities (Cummins & Early, 2011, p. 3), partially because they chose to showcase skills in which they excel. Showcasing strong skills publicly can be especially important when students struggle because one or two language skills are weaker than others, in my opinion. Presenting their projects, at least in this study, was a positive experience for all the students because the audience was sincerely impressed with what everyone was able to express – whether because of what they said or how they said it. I encouraged students to use the multimodal projects to develop their weaker skills, but, in the end, I wanted them to decide when and how they wanted to be challenged. 6.1.4  Self-Directed Learning That Is Relevant to Students’ Lives In addition to empowering the students with the agency to shape their learning  challenges, the multimodal projects in this study were also a method of extending their learning in ways that were self-directed and relevant to their lives and/or content learning and language  151 development. Students used many resources that they already possessed in order to complete their multimodal projects (see Section 6.1.9), but many of them, such as Judy and Sara, also sought out new knowledge independently via dictionaries, the Internet, or consultation with family members. The New London Group proposes that education’s “fundamental purpose is to ensure that all students benefit from learning in ways that allow them to participate fully in public, community, and economic life” (2000, p. 9). In order to facilitate learning that extends students’ ability to participate in their lives outside of the classroom, learning must be individually meaningful. The fact that many of the students in this study felt that this project was a catalyst for them to acquire content knowledge that was important to them both through classroom materials and independent research is an indication that the learning tasks were facilitating individual learning needs. 6.1.5  Working With Children Another benefit spoken of by many of the research participants was the opportunity to  work with their children to create their multimodal projects. Students with younger children, such as Aymie, enlisted their children as co-creators with the result that they were able to find the time for their own learning while taking care of childcare responsibilities. Students with older children, such as Elaine, Linda, and Judy, recruited their children to be contributors and mentors/judges. The extent to which these students involved their children in their projects was unexpected, but speaks to the way the multimodal learning tasks were able to bridge their inclass and out-of-class realities. Skilton-Sylvester’s study of Cambodian immigrant women in the U.S. found that “their interest in and ability to come to class shifted across time and space as they took on different roles and identities in and out of the classroom” (2002, p. 11). What is interesting about this study is that, for many of the participants, their multiple identities and  152 attendant responsibilities were not in conflict in creating their multimodal projects. Students adapted the learning tasks so that the demands of their language learning course dovetailed with their responsibilities as mothers. I believe that this is one of the reasons why the multimodal projects were so rich and extended both their content learning and language development so significantly. 6.1.6  The Authentic Communicative Experience of Sharing Publicly Many of the participants in this research project reported that presenting their projects to  the class was an important opportunity for learning, particularly language development, and increased investment in the learning tasks. Students felt differently about how difficult speaking about their projects was – for Sara it was quite easy but for Linda and Sharon it was quite difficult. For all students, the process of designing and creating their projects hugely facilitated content learning; the presentation of their projects supported language development of speaking and listening skills. All students displayed new levels of fluency, partially because they knew their material so well after creating their projects and partially because they had ‘practised’ so that they would perform ‘well’ in front of their classmates, the volunteers, the teaching assistant, and myself. Street argues that “[i]n order to develop rich and complex curricula and assessments for literacy, we need models of literacy and pedagogy that capture the richness and complexity of actual literacy practices” (2005a, p. 420). The New London Group argue that “we can instantiate a vision through pedagogy that creates in microcosm a transformed set of relationships and possibilities for social futures” (2000, p. 19). The presentation component of this research study was an opportunity for authentic communicative experiences that captured the “richness and complexity of actual literacy practices” outside of the classroom, while offering an opportunity for a communicative event that created in microcosm “a transformed set of relationships and  153 possibilities for social futures”. Most of the students were hugely impressed by their classmates presentations and surprised by their own performances. Possibilities seemed to be expanded for most students as they recognized the breadth of their own and their classmates content learning and language development, and the potential for future learning. It should be noted that many of the projects when viewed in isolation had limited linguistic components, and this might be misleading in terms of how much language was produced throughout the unit. Because most of the participating students had stronger writing skills than speaking skills, I encouraged them to use only key words as text in their projects so that they would have an extra speaking challenge when presenting to the class. The key words acted as reminders of what they wanted to say, but presenting their projects to the class required them to talk far more than the words that were written on the page; that is, projects with minimal linguistic text required them to talk to the class about their projects rather than just ‘read’ what they had written. With the exception of the one student who already had strong speaking skills, each of the students in this study demonstrated hugely progressed speaking skills over the course of the five weeks. 6.1.7  Identity Texts Cummins and Early (2011) describe identity texts as: …products of the students’ creative work or performances carried out within the pedagogical space orchestrated by the classroom teacher. Students invest their identities in the creation of these texts – which can be written, spoken, signed, visual, musical, dramatic, or combinations in multimodal form. The identity text then holds a mirror up to students in which their identities are reflected back in a positive light. (p. 3)  In this study, the students’ identities were “invested” in all of their multimodal projects, sometimes explicitly and sometimes implicitly. All of the students received positive feedback on their projects from fellow classmates, volunteers, and staff which supports Cummins and Early’s  154 description of “a mirror” reflecting back identities “in a positive light”. Norton argues that “language is thus theorized not only as a linguistic system, but also as a social practice in which experiences are organized and identities negotiated” (2008, p. 45). The multimodal projects, in a sense, were consciously designed as a social practice for organizing experience, not only through linguistic but also extended semiotic resources, and offered a space for negotiation of identities. All of the learning tasks asked students to draw on prior knowledge and experiences (see Section 6.1.9 below) and therefore also functioned to “connect new information and skills to their background knowledge”, identified by Cummins and Early as a hallmark of identity texts (2011, p. 4). Further, some students, like Aymie, used the identity texts to explore identity struggles while others, like Linda, were able to claim identities that they wanted to assert. This is significant considering Morita’s conclusion from her study of university students studying in an additional language that they “often had difficulty overcoming such roles or ascribed identities, especially when they were imposed by more powerful members such as instructors” (2004, p. 598, emphasis in original). The students in this study had the opportunity to explore and assert identities as they chose. Significant to this study, all of the participants were women. Norton argues that “immigrant woman occupy a particular and different location in society to immigrant men, and that experiences of immigration must be understood as gendered ones (2000, p. 12). All of the participants were mothers, and most had given up careers to move to Canada because of opportunities for their children. Some of their multimodal projects as identity texts had a recurrent theme of the tension between students’ identities as ‘mothers’ and their identities beyond ‘mothers’. Many of the students, including Elaine, Linda, Sara, and Aymie, while not regretting the personal sacrifices they had made for their children, were in conflict about their  155 own “relationship to the world” and their personal “possibilities for the future” (Norton, 2000, p. 5). The opportunity to explore these identity struggles through the learning tasks for this unit of study was described by the students in focus groups as “important”. Street asks if “new literacy practices [are] taking into account students’ identities as a site of struggle and negotiation” (1995, p. 135). In relation to this study involving multimodal learning tasks as identity texts, the answer would be “yes”. 6.1.8  Investment Despite the fact that there are no extrinsic benefits such as letter grades in the ELSA  program, participants in this study seemed invested in the unit of work. The level of investment seemed to be the result of several factors closely tied to identities of ‘good mothers’ and ‘good students’. Norton writes that “the notion of investment conceives of the language learner as having a complex, nonunitary identity, changing across time and space, and reproduced in social interaction. …an investment in the target language is also an investment in the learner’s own identity” (2008, p. 48). The students in this study spoke of their multiple identities as immigrants, mothers, professionals, academics, wives, and language learners, amongst others. Their investment in learning English was variously attributed to wanting to support their children in school, wanting to resume professional careers in Canada, and wanting to have rich social contacts in Canada beyond their first culture/first language enclaves, amongst others. Few participants in this study attributed their investment in this unit of work to one single reason (or identity) which supports Norton’s argument that investing in the “target language is also an investment in the learner’s own identity” while that identity is itself “nonunitary”. The identity of ‘good mother’ was definitely a large factor in the level of investment spoken about and observed in this research project. Several students, such Judy and Aymie,  156 explicitly stated that the content learning of this unit, the education system in Canada, was important to them. Their children’s education was a factor in all participants’ decisions to live in Canada, and they were invested in understanding their children’s schooling. Menard-Warwick notes that “when language and literacy development become congruent with learner identities, learning is enhanced” (2005, p. 254). In this study, “language and literacy development” could be expanded to include content learning. There were issues in this study with the students’ identities as ‘good students’ causing investment in the multimodal projects such that other areas of their lives were neglected (e.g. sleep). The public sharing of their work (see Section 6.1.6) was explicitly identified by students, including Sara, as contributing to a deep level of investment in the work. Students wanted to do “well” in front of the class audience. Another possible cause, however, was that the women in this study were highly educated and frequently professionally experienced. Many of them had functioned well in competitive academic and career environments prior to immigration and many seemed to be still operating with the high standards they were accustomed to in their previous experiences. Learning English and trying to understand Canadian culture seemed to have undermined their confidence, however. Several of them, including Judy, Aymie, and Lisa, regularly spoke disparagingly about their language abilities. This seems to have parallels to the women in Norton’s (2000) study: …instead of feeling a sense of accomplishment at the great progress they had all made in learning English, the participants in my study tended to feel ashamed, inferior and uninteresting because of their second language abilities. Such feelings of inadequacy and poor self-confidence must be linked to power relations that the women had to negotiate in their interactions in the wider community and their marginalized positions as immigrants. (p. 123) Although the multimodal projects as identity texts (see 6.1.7) were the source of positive feedback, this is an area that might be uniquely challenging for adult learners when compared to  157 children because of longer histories of achievement and/or struggle. It is impossible, of course, to rule out the tendency to self-denigrate as a behaviour unrelated to the immigration experience, but I believe that the experience of immigration, including having given up the cultural, social, and career capital that they possessed in their home countries, is a factor in many adult immigrant learners’ struggles to feel competent. That said, almost all of the students reported being happy with their progress in both content learning and language development through this unit of study. 6.1.9  Accessing Prior Knowledge as a Resource for Learning All of the multimodal learning tasks were designed to encourage students to make use of  their semiotic resources, acquired both inside and outside of class, to make meaning. Knowledge of the education system in their home countries, their past experiences, and their imagined futures were all explicitly explored through the multimodal learning tasks. In addition, the projects provided an opportunity for students to use any other semiotic resources they chose, such as knowledge of first language or first culture, drawing, or PowerPoint. Although the students did not explicitly talk about using their prior knowledge as a “cognitive tool” for learning, there is extensive evidence in their work that they were accessing prior knowledge as a tool for learning. Many scholars in the field of multimodality and New Literacy Studies argue for the importance of prior knowledge for learning. Cummins and Early, for example, write that pedagogical approaches must be designed to “connect new information and skills to [students’] background knowledge” (2011, p. 4). Street argues that “[i]n order to build upon the richness and complexity of learners' prior knowledge, we need to treat "home background" not as a deficit but as affecting deep levels of identity and epistemology” (Street, 2005a, p. 420). In this research study, valuing prior knowledge was not a vague concept, but explicitly built into the  158 learning tasks. The New London Group’s proposal of “Designing” as a pedagogical approach that can meet 21st Century students’ needs argues that “[d]esigning always involves the transformations of Available Designs; it always involves making new use of old materials” (2000, p. 22). This is significant for adult learners who have a lifetime of “old materials” available to them as resources which, based on the work created by the students in this study, were frequently and richly accessed. The participants in this study certainly seemed to be not only using their rich home practices to engage in rich classroom practices, but, from my observations, felt that their background knowledge was respected and their identities as possessors of extensive knowledge were affirmed. In this sense, the deep connections that were made between prior knowledge, present learning, identity, and imagined futures were a pedagogy of abilities rather than deficits. 6.1.10 Critical Thinking Many of the students used critical thinking to assess ‘education’ in their projects, focus group discussions, and journal entries. As well-educated adults, they had extensive experience with their own education, as well as being invested in the ways that their children had been and were being educated. Their critical assessments on ‘education’ ranged from the education system in their home country, the education system in Canada, and the education they were receiving in the ELSA program and the unit of learning at the core of this study. The ELSA program has dual curricular goals: language learning and content learning of ‘settlement’ topics such as health, education, housing, etc. How the teacher approaches the teaching of the settlement topics is at their discretion, to a large extent, and I have always prioritized trying to find educational approaches that teach about Canadian systems, culture, and values while respecting the students’ home systems, cultures, and values. Menard-Warwick argues that this is  159 important because if this balance is not struck, “resistance rather than learning is likely to result” (2005, p. 254). I would argue that because evidence of critical thinking emerged consistently throughout this study, including the counter-examples of Lisa and Sara, students felt that their ideas were valued and that the classroom was a space where their thoughts, whether critical or not, were welcomed. I observed huge amounts of content learning and language development, as well as huge investment in the learning tasks for this unit of learning; the data for this study point to learning rather than resistance. 6.1.11 The Topic of Education in Canada The topic of education was relevant to the participants’ lives because they had all listed educational opportunities for their children as being a major factor in their decision to move to Canada. Further, they were invested in understanding the Canadian education system because they wanted to support their children to succeed academically. The multimodal learning tasks provided opportunities to become familiar with a depth of content information about the Canadian educational system, while developing language skills in order to create and present their projects. Significantly, students had agency to focus their content learning and language development, particularly in Research Task #4. As discussed above, the projects were an opportunity to use critical thinking and made use of all their semiotic resources, including their rich background knowledge. Of note is the extent to which the students were able to examine how they themselves and other classmates learned and how creating their multimodal projects affected their learning. For many of the participants, this pedagogical approach of multimodal project-based learning was new to them and, in addition to being an opportunity for content learning and language development through this unit of study, it was also an opportunity for them to experience first-hand a pedagogical approach that their children might experience in the  160 Canadian school system. New Literacy Studies proposes the concepts of “literacy practices” and “literacy events” (Street, 1995; Hornberger, 2001; Hull & Schultz, 2002), oversimplified as literacy activities and the beliefs behind those activities, as being culturally anchored. The Canadian education system has less focus on ‘memorization’ and more focus on ‘critical thinking’, ‘project-based’ learning, and learning through ‘play’. Many of the students discussed these differences in their multimodal projects, focus group discussions, and reflection journals, and I believe it is significant that they were able to understand some of the ‘beliefs’ behind these learning activities. This is not to say that they did not have criticisms of the Canadian school system (see Section 6.1.10), which many spoke of as being “weak” in math and science, but they gained not only increased understanding of “literacy events” their children might engage in in Canadian schools, but also greater insight into “literacy practices” in the Canadian school system. 6.1.12 The Unique Characteristics of Adult Learners As discussed above, the adult learners in this study had enormous resources of prior knowledge that were accessed for this unit of study (see Section 6.1.3), but they also had multiple identities and often experienced conflicts between their responsibilities as ‘mothers’ and ‘students’ (see Section 6.1.8). They also had a tendency, which I believe at least partially resulted from bringing high standards from their previous educational and career experiences to this non-academic environment, to be disparaging about their own abilities (see also Section 6.1.8). In addition, they had other characteristics that varied from that of younger learners. For example, although they were all women immigrants with at least a high school education, their educational and career backgrounds, first cultures and first languages, and life experiences had great variety. As a result, their learning needs and levels of specific language skills were quite  161 diverse. It is promising that both content learning and language development were facilitated for all students in this study through the multimodal projects because students were able to focus on their individual learning needs and work at appropriate levels. The New London Group envisions a pedagogical approach that can “recruit, rather than attempt to ignore and erase, the different subjectivities, interests, commitments, and purposes that students bring to learning” (2000, p. 18). Designing learning tasks that will meet the disparate needs of diverse students is a challenge; with all the pluralities of needs, how do we design learning tasks which will provide opportunities for all students to develop their English skills? For the participants in this study, my belief is that the multimodal pedagogical approach not only recruited their diverse “subjectivities, interests, commitments, and purposes” for learning, but also was able to accommodate students’ individual language development levels. 6.1.13 Competing Responsibilities Although most ELSA students are invested in improving their English language skills, they often have numerous responsibilities outside of the classroom and, as a result, they are constantly juggling priorities. Despite the fact that one motivation for language learning is often supporting their children, the practical needs of the children – staying home to tend to them when they are sick, etc. – regularly interfere with students’ abilities to attend class. The ability to engage in learning tasks away from school – i.e. to complete ‘homework’ – can also be limited, especially if a student has young children. Some students solved the problem of finding time to complete their homework by involving their children, as discussed above, but it was an ongoing issue for many of the students. All the students worked really hard on their multimodal projects, much harder than I expected and involving more time than I could devote class hours to. As we approached the  162 third and fourth projects, I became worried about students spending too much out-of-class time on the multimodal projects connected with this study after I discovered that some were staying up until midnight or later working on their projects; however, there was no simple solution to this problem. For Research Tasks #3 and #4, although I informed the students that I would set aside class time for them to complete their work, all but two of the students arrived to class with their multimodal projects completed. As a result, I had two students working on projects and the rest doing one of my ‘reserve’ tasks, which the students working on their projects felt they were missing out on. 6.1.14 A Community of Learners The multimodal projects seemed to function to deepen the students’ sense of community by giving them an opportunity to support each other in both their commonalities and differences. I observed repeatedly that the students were engaged in learning about each other’s past experiences, countries, ideas, talents, and imagined futures (for themselves or their children). Feedback from the students’ journals and focus group interviews showed that they were often inspired by their fellow students – relating to their challenges and encouraged by their successes. Norton (2000) argues that: Immigrants who attend a language class bring not only their local experiences into the classroom, but also their memories of their native country and their own visions of the future they desire in a new country. Furthermore, they bring their own desires of what a language course should provide to help them settle into a new country and their own expectations of how formal language training can enhance the process of second language learning. (p. 134) One of the strengths of the multimodal pedagogical approach in this regard was that it recruited and shared students’ “local experiences”, “memories of their native country”, and their “visions of the future” as tools for learning. Further, students were asked to reflect on their own learning through the multimodal learning tasks and have group discussions regarding their “desires of  163 what a language course should provide to help them settle into a new country”, as well as whether or not they believed the multimodal learning tasks were meeting their content learning and language development needs. The topic of education as part of the ELSA curriculum is intended to deepen understanding of the education system in British Columbia and prepare students to navigate all levels of education both on their own and their children’s behalf. The multimodal approach used in this study accessed students’ knowledge about the education systems in their home countries – both from their experiences as students and, in some cases, as professionals working within another country’s education system – and therefore this unit of work became both local and global, personal and general. The New London Group argue that “[t]o be relevant, learning processes need to recruit, rather than attempt to ignore and erase, the different subjectivities, interests, intentions, commitments, and purposes that students bring to learning” (2000, p.18). My observations of the process, and my evaluation of the work produced, led me to believe that the multimodal projects were a space in which students were able to recruit knowledge, beliefs, and imagined futures for learning. 6.1.15 The Student-Teacher Relationship Research Task #2 required the students to complete a word web about a past teacher who had been particularly influential to their learning, either positively or negatively. The majority of the students created projects about positively influential teachers who had encouraged them and believed in their abilities, which they felt was conducive to learning. Street argues that “[t]he ways in which teachers or facilitators and their students interact is already a social practice that affects the nature of the literacy being learned and the ideas about literacy held by the participants, especially the new learners and their position in relations to power” (2005a, p. 413).  164 Although the learners in this class were all highly literate and had extensive educational backgrounds outside of Canada, for some students this class was their first educational experience in Canada and first sustained contact with Canadian citizens (the teaching assistant, volunteers, and myself). The student-staff relationships, therefore, were implicitly teaching them a lot about learning in Canada and their position of power within a Canadian educational context. Cummins, Early, and Stille (2011) argue that “interactions between educators, students and communities” construct: ...an interpersonal space within which the acquisition of knowledge and formation of identity are negotiated. Power is created and shared within this interpersonal space where minds and identities meet. As such, these teacher-student interactions constitute the most immediate determinant of student academic success or failure. (p. 25) They further argue that: …interactions between educators, students, and communities are never neutral; to varying degrees they either reinforce coercive relations of power or promote collaborative relations of power. In the former case, they contribute to the disempowerment of culturally diverse students and communities; in the latter case, the interactions constitute a process of empowerment that enables educators, students and communities to challenge the operation of coercive power structures. (p. 26) Many students, such as Linda, described my relationship with them as warm, supportive and informal. Because I am a native English speaker and Canadian of European descent, on a physical and linguistic level I am representative of the hegemonic culture that students encounter outside of the classroom. To promote “collaborative relations of power” inside the classroom, I believe that it is necessary that I become well acquainted with each individual student’s goals, backgrounds, challenges, and learning styles and, through this knowledge, strive to support their learning goals and affirm their identities. Another strategy I employ is to respect the fact that as adult learners with rich educational and career backgrounds, as well as extensive life experience,  165 students need the agency to shape their own learning as much as possible. The multimodal pedagogical approach implemented in this study was able to meet the dual objectives of facilitating rich knowledge of each student’s identity, language learning goals, and imagined future(s), while at the same time providing opportunities for each student to have agency in their content learning and language development. 6.2  Pedagogical Implications Jewitt writes, “[t]he ‘change potential’ of multimodal semiotics is another aspect that may  be developed more in the future. The potential for multimodal research to impact on teacher training, the design of learning, and curriculum and software design is immense” (2008, 365). Based on the numbers of ways in which the students’ reflections and my observations came to the conclusion that the multimodal projects provided opportunities for content learning and language development for the students in this study, it seems warranted to highlight several aspects of the pedagogical approach that were of significant benefit to these learners and may be areas of “change potential” in terms of “design of learning” and educator approach. Further, the students in this study were incredibly invested in the multimodal learning tasks and provided feedback that the nature of the learning tasks in themselves, regardless of other opportunities for learning, were enjoyable and increased investment which clearly has implications for practice. The aspects of pedagogical approach that seemed to be significant to both content learning and language development for the participants in this study included student agency in learning, the role of learner identities, imagined communities and futures, learning as social practice, the student-teacher relationship, finding balance between the ideological curricular components of ELSA and respecting students’ personal beliefs, harnessing prior knowledge for learning, the  166 sometimes sensitive nature of social practice and beliefs, the importance of creativity and fun to learning, and the issues of curriculum design and assessment. 6.2.1  Agency I believe that the importance of agency for adult learners cannot be underestimated. In my  experience, students in Level 3 and above, such as those in this study, almost always have at least a high school education and many have post-secondary educations; colleagues teaching in the ELSA program corroborate that this is also true of their students. This is significant to practice because the depth of resources well-educated adults possess must be recognized and respected with regard to identity affirmation. If we are to avoid a deficit model of teaching, we must also design learning tasks for these students that are able to harness their prior knowledge and extensive tools for learning as resources. As scholars in New Literacy Studies stress repeatedly, it is imperative that we “bridge” out-of-school and in-school learning in order to empower rather than oppress. This is not to say that these learners cannot benefit from being introduced to additional tools for learning – in this research project, Linda, who was highly educated, had never been exposed to graphic organizers and said that in future she would use them in both her work and futures studies – but, it is my experience that most adult students with a strong educational background are cognizant of their strengths and challenges in language and content learning. As adults, they deserve the agency to decide, at least for some of their tasks, how they want to focus their learning. In this study, we saw that some students chose to work on their weaker skills to challenge their language development while some chose to showcase their stronger skills to build their confidence. Both are valid choices, in my opinion, and the multimodal pedagogical approach was able to accommodate these different objectives.  167 Further, I think that if adult students have agency in learning, they are being given a strong message that the educator trusts and respects them. If the learners feel trusted and respected, it can have enormous benefits for self-esteem, willingness to take on new challenges, and happiness in the classroom environment. Often, in my experience, students respond to that trust by allowing me to get to know them in terms of identities they want to assert, challenges they have both inside and outside of class, and their imagined futures. If the students share these aspects of themselves, I know them better and am better able to meet their learning needs. This is one significant way that educators are then equipped to design pedagogical practice that can address identity issues, which can be so important with immigrant language learners. 6.2.2  Learner Identities Learner identities were central to this research project, which I believe has significant  implications for practice. Like other studies in which students have created identity texts, the students in this study were able to variously assert identities that they chose rather than have identities imposed upon them, negotiate identities as sites of struggle, and contemplate changing identities in ways that intersected with their imagined futures. Fleming argues that language programs “play a crucial role in identity formation” (2007, p. 186), however he laments that, at least officially, “identity construction” is not a component of the curriculum. It is true that while ELSA programs do have a curriculum focused on language development and settlement topics, there is no official directive to address learner identities and therefore whether or not to design learning activities that address “identity construction” is left up to individual teachers. This study highlights how important identity assertion, negotiation, and change potential was to the learners in this study. Although the ways in which learner identities can be resourced, affirmed, and negotiated in classroom practice are varied and not limited to a multimodal pedagogical  168 approach, the multimodal projects in this study were a particularly effective way of incorporating learner identities into activities that also supported the content learning and language development. 6.2.3  Imagined Communities and Futures Identity is closely related to imagined communities and language learning. Norton  argues that “[i]n essence, an imagined community assumes an imagined identity, and a learner’s investment in the target language must be understood within this context” (2008, p. 48). Norton (2000) further argues that: Immigrants who attend a language class bring not only their local experiences into the classroom, but also their memories of their native country and their own visions of the future they desire in a new country. Furthermore, they bring their own desires of what a language course should provide to help them settle into a new country and their own expectations of how formal language training can enhance the process of second language learning. (p. 134) In this sense, the multimodal projects in this study were a space where students’ local and past experiences, imagined communities, identities, and futures were harnessed as resources and explored as sites of negotiation. As a pedagogical approach, the multimodal projects were, hopefully, a way of affirming students’ identities and counteracting the marginalization that they may encounter in the wider community. Aymie is an example of one student who was consciously struggling with her identity, both related and unrelated to her language learning, and reported being happy to have the opportunity to examine these struggles in her class work. She, like all of the students in the class, was juggling multiple responsibilities and finding time to reflect on her own experiences, imagined communities, and hopes for her future was difficult; she said that being able to explore these issues in her class work, while simultaneously gaining content knowledge and developing English language skills, was a great opportunity for her.  169 6.2.4  Learning as Social Practice New Literacy Studies, multimodality as theorized by New London Group and Kress, and  work in the area of identity, imagined communities, and language learning, all characterize language, and language learning, as a social practice. New Literacy Studies, in particular, has examined ways in which we can “understand literacy in terms of concrete social practices and to theorize it in terms of the ideologies in which different literacies are embedded” (Gee, 2012, p. 76). Viewing language learning as a social practice within the classroom has strong implications for practice, which the emerging understandings of this study support. I believe that there are two interrelated aspects to the social practice of language learning that are highlighted in this study and warrant consideration. The first is the classroom as social microcosm that, ideally, can support learning that is relevant to the students’ lives outside of the classroom. The second is making conscious connections between the social practices within and outside of the classroom. These two interrelated ‘social practice’ aspects of this study are most highlighted in the presentations of the students’ multimodal projects. Students reported that they really enjoyed learning from their classmates’ projects, sharing their work increased their investment by making them want to do well, and the presentations provided an opportunity for authentic speaking and listening practice in English. Community was further built by the students’ recognition of common experiences/knowledge, as well as the identity affirmation that resulted from revelations of skill, knowledge, and talent via the public presentations. For many students, it was revealed through their focus group interviews, journals, and multimodal projects, that their imagined communities were ones in which they could fully participate in Canadian life by interacting socially in English, and that they aspired to have an identity that encompassed being both a proud member of their first culture and a proud member of Canadian culture. The presentations of their multimodal projects allowed them to communicate these goals, and feel  170 like they were working towards them. The bridging of in-class language learning and out-ofclass imagined futures is an important aspect of language learning as social practice and an important pedagogical implication argued for in theory and supported by the emerging understandings of this study. 6.2.5  The Student-Teacher Relationship An aspect of language as social practice that has pedagogical implications is the  relationship between students and teacher. I think a positive student-teacher relationship can support learning, affirm identities, and be an avenue to discover and address students’ learning needs, while a negative or impersonal student-teacher relationship can be detrimental to students’ progress and well-being. Street writes that in educational contexts, “[t]he ways in which teachers or facilitators and their students interact is already a social practice that affects the nature of the literacy being learned and the ideas about literacy held by the participants, especially the new learners and their position in relations to power” (Street, 2005a, p. 413). The adult students in ELSA programs often have substantial experience in educational environments and have developed strong literacy practices and ideologies, but most of these learners are having their first educational experience in Canada, and their first sustained contact with Canadians (via teachers) and therefore they are learning lessons about “their position in relation to power” in their new culture. Cummins, Early, and Stille (2011) propose similarly to Street that the relationship between students and teacher directly affects how empowered students are within the social context of the classroom: Collaborative relations of power… reflect the sense of the term ‘power’ that refers to ‘being enabled’, or ‘empowered’ to achieve more. Within collaborative relations of power, ‘power’ is not a fixed quantity but is generated through interaction with others. The more empowered one individual or group becomes, the more power is generated for others to share. The process is additive rather than subtractive. Within this context, empowerment can be defined as the  171 collaborative creation of power. Students whose schooling experiences reflect collaborative relations of power participate confidently in instruction as a result of their sense of identity being affirmed and extended in their interactions with educators. They also know that their voices will be heard and respected within the classroom. Schooling amplifies rather than silences their power of selfexpression. (p. 25) Cummins, Early, and Stille further argue that “interactions between educators, students and communities are never neutral; to varying degrees they reinforce coercive relations of power or promote collaborative relations of power” (2011, p. 26). To me, this has enormous implications for practice because the teacher is either actively creating a relationship that empowers learners or further marginalizing them. Many of my students have spoken of the relationship that I have with them as being instrumental to their learning. As Linda wrote in her journal, “…my teacher is informal in the class. We all call her Susan directly. Relationship bettwen Susan and me is friend... Susan is paiteint and alway encourage me when I have difficulties in studing. “You are OK” is the most speakes she have ever said and I like best”. I have enormous respect for my students and I explicitly communicate my respect by telling them how much I admire the challenge they have taken on in moving to a new country and learning a new language. I also regularly affirm their identities and remind them of their considerable abilities. I believe that verbal encouragement can only go so far to create “collaborative power”, however. I have already discussed agency in Section 6.1.3 above, but my belief is that transferring agency for some of the students’ learning to the students themselves sends them a strong message that I respect them as equal partners in their learning, and I trust their choices in focusing learning tasks, as well as their decisions regarding how much ‘personal’ information they want to reveal in the classroom. In this study, there was a remarkable amount of self-expression in the multimodal projects themselves, the presentations of their projects, and the focus group  172 discussions, as well as a substantial amount of critical thinking that was displayed. Both their self-expression and critical thinking are evidence of the students’ empowerment; my belief is that their empowerment was critical in supporting the substantial content learning and language development that was displayed by every student during this unit of study. 6.2.6  Balancing Institutional Ideology With Respect for Students’ Beliefs Directly related to the issue of creating “collaborative relations of power” is the question  of how to help students adjust to life in Canada, in a government-funded course mandated to teach “settlement topics”, without hegemonically imposing Canadian ideologies onto them. Van Leeuwen argues that “…discourses are never only about what we do but how we do it. The discourses we use in representing social practices such as eating are versions of those practices plus the ideas and attitudes that attach to them in the contexts in which we use them” (2005, p. 104). In terms of ideology, I sometimes find myself in conflict with the official curriculum. For example, I regularly feel uncomfortable when I have to teach units like “food and nutrition” to people from other cultures that generally have far healthier eating habits than North Americans. Similarly, it was hard to find fault with the repeated criticism made by students during the unit of study in this research project that ‘math is too easy in Canada’ when my own daughter finds the Canadian math curriculum far too easy. I think that the multimodal pedagogical approach has significant implications for practice in this regard. The multimodal projects all required students to frame what they already knew and/or believed in relation to new information about Canada. It was, therefore, possible to teach the students about Canadian systems and beliefs without making them feel that their own beliefs were being devalued. Students can then think critically and, as was evident in this study, often come to their own conclusions.  173 6.2.7  Social Practice and Beliefs: Sensitivity Identity texts bring out a range of personal revelations and beliefs that are publicly shared  within the classroom. Some students will choose to reveal only limited personal information, as was evident in this study, but some will potentially choose to reveal deeply personal and, sometimes, difficult information about their lives and/or personal struggles. Students could also potentially reveal beliefs that classmates find offensive, although I have yet to encounter this situation in my practice. I believe that using students’ beliefs and struggles as resources for learning can have immense benefits for content learning, language development, and investment, but does require a higher level of sensitivity and vigilance on the part of the teacher to monitor for potential vulnerabilities and conflict, and to address them directly should they arise (e.g. through class discussion, through referrals to other professional services if warranted, etc.) 6.2.8  Harnessing Prior Knowledge for Learning Street argues that “[i]n order to build upon the richness and complexity of learners’ prior  knowledge, we need to treat “home background” not as a deficit but as affecting deep levels of identity and epistemology, and thereby the stance which learners take with respect to the “new” literacy practices of the educational setting” (2005a, p. 420). The students in this study were all well educated, mostly professionally experienced, and rich in the semiotic resources of their first languages/cultures; their “rich and complex” prior knowledge was an enormous strength for learning. Significant for practice, the multimodal learning tasks supported the use of prior knowledge for learning. In addition to ‘framing’ new information in relation to prior knowledge, for example the Venn diagrams comparing the education systems in their home country and Canada, the actual process of creating their projects harnessed prior knowledge to learn. Frances, for example, was articulate about how she would think about her ideas in her first  174 language and then figure out how she could “translate” her ideas into other modes (e.g. English text, visuals, etc.) The New London Group argues that “[d]esigning always involves the transformations of Available Designs; it always involves making new use of old materials” (2000, p. 22); therefore if students’ “old materials” are, for the most part, encoded in their first languages or their first cultures, it is imperative that we find ways to facilitate use of these resources. A multimodal pedagogical approach seems to provide opportunities for rich literacy practices that encourage students to use their available resources for learning, both old and new. 6.2.9  The Importance of Creativity and Fun Pitt, discussing a family literacy study noted the following “paradox”: “[t]he focus on  children’s reading, and parents’ support and interaction with them in literacy events, is on pleasure, creativity… But this dimension of literacy is absent from the adult strand. Can literacy only be pleasurable and inspiring when you are a young child, or parent of one?” (2000, p. 118). I would argue that it is possible to make adult learning fun, and the results of this study repeatedly identified “enjoyment” and “happiness” in creating the multimodal projects as one factor in the students’ investment in their projects. Linda, for example, described creating one of her projects as “interesting for me”, noting that a previous educational experience learning English with a pedagogical approach largely focused on memorization was “so boring that I sometimes don’t homework”. Further, for those students who worked with their children to create their multimodal projects, all mentioned “fun” or “enjoyment” as a benefit. It is sometimes easy to dismiss the amount of learning that can happen via ‘fun’ activities, but Linda’s comment is a reminder that students will engage and invest in activities they find ‘fun’ and ‘interesting’ to a much greater extent than those that are uninteresting.  175 6.2.10 Curriculum Design and Assessment In addition to the “change potential” in multimodality and identity texts in terms of classroom practice, there are also implications in the areas of curriculum design and assessment. For the students in this study, content learning, language development, and investment were all increased by harnessing their resources for learning, including identity, first language and culture, expertise in other areas, etc. The work that they created, as well as their public sharing of that work, was in many cases far beyond the assigned level for this class, and in all cases showed great development of skills and knowledge when informally assessed (self-assessed and teacher assessed) in relation to their abilities at the beginning of the unit of study. Despite these promising results, however, there is still a chasm between the impressive work the students produced, but received no ‘official’ credit for, and the standardized tests that are the sole determiner of their fitness to graduate to the next level of study. This is significant going forward as the Canadian government recently increased the language requirement for citizenship applicants to ‘CLB Level 4’ (ELSA 4) and therefore continued progress through the ELSA program now has much higher stakes. Further, as Fleming points out, government-funded language programs in Canada have no curricular requirement to address “identity construction” (2007, p. 186), which is a deficit. 6.3  Implications for Future Research This qualitative research study has a small number of participants learning in a very  specific educational context and therefore the emerging understandings cannot be generalized to adult ESL language programs. As Jewitt (2008) notes: Multimodal analysis is an intensive research process both in relation to time and labor. One consequence of this is that research on multimodal discourses is generally small scale and this can restrict the potential of multimodality to comment beyond the specific to the general. It is perhaps important to be clear,  176 however, that multimodality can be applied to take a detailed look at ‘big’ issues and questions through specific instances. Nonetheless, the scale of multimodal research can make it difficult to use findings for policy and educational strategy. (p. 363) The data from this study, however, seem to indicate that for the participating students the multimodal projects did provide opportunities for learning content and developing language through the design process, the affordances of multimodal meaning-making, and sharing their work publicly through presentations. These results seem to indicate that future research is called for in the area of adult learners in non-academic learning contexts and multimodal pedagogic approaches. 6.3.1  Identifying Individual Factors This study had an ensemble of factors which might have contributed to the significant  content learning and language development that was observed. Some of the individual factors were the recruiting of the students’ previous knowledge and experience for learning, the positive relationship between students and teacher, the willingness of this particular set of students to embrace multimodality, and the topic itself and the students’ investment in it (or not, in one case) because of their children’s futures. I believe that all of these elements contributed to the students’ learning but whether they are all necessary for a multimodal pedagogic approach to be successful is unknown. 6.3.2  Avoiding Weaker Skills The majority of the students used the multimodal projects to challenge their weaker  skills, but a minority of students chose to avoid learning challenges and focused on their stronger skills to complete the projects. My belief in these specific cases was that students were gaining confidence by displaying stronger skills to the class, which had the potential benefits of  177 supporting general learning outside of multimodal projects and positively affirming their identities when they might be struggling with settlement issues outside of the classroom. That said, this issue might warrant further research as it could prove to be problematic for some students. 6.3.3  Overinvestment The issue of investment did have one drawback when it came to creation of the  multimodal projects. Many of the students spent considerable time away from the classroom working on their projects. For most students in ELSA programs, they are juggling multiple responsibilities such as care of small children and sometimes employment. Allowing the students to work on their projects in class solved this issue in some cases, but not others. Some students seemed to want to complete their work with Internet access (something that was not available in this classroom) and many students wanted to have unlimited and uninterrupted time to “think”, which was reported to be central to the learning process for so many of them. I was not able to resolve this issue to my satisfaction during the course of this study and therefore it remains problematic and possibly worth exploring in future research. 6.3.4  Working With Children Many participants in this study involved their children in creating their multimodal  projects; younger children as artists and older children as artists, collaborators, consultants and critics. None of the students in this study reported their children’s involvement as problematic. I think this might warrant further investigation, however, since parent-child roles can be difficult in immigrant families where the children have more advanced language skills than the parents, particularly in the case of older children who can feel like they are responsible for taking care of the family. I did not expect that level of involvement of the children that emerged from this  178 study, and it was characterized as positive, but I do think this might be an issue that could be further explored and better understood. 6.3.5  Explicit Teaching of Critical Thinking and Social Semiotics In terms of both critical thinking and social semiotics, there was limited explicit teaching  or learning beyond what emerged from the students’ projects. In ELSA programs, students will spend approximately 400 hours at Level 3 and above, and during those 400 hours they need instruction in grammar, pronunciation, reading, writing, listening, speaking, and settlement topics. This packed curriculum leaves little time for teaching anything else, including aspects of the multimodal projects which could be expanded on for even more awareness of learning processes and more depth in the projects themselves. Even without much overt teaching about critical thinking or semiotics the students’ work had significant depth in terms of learning, investment, and identity. I do think, however, it could be an interesting area of research to see if there are benefits to spending more time on critical thinking and understanding of the semiotics of modes/multimodes to see how that might affect a multimodal pedagogic approach. 6.4  Scope and Limitations This study sought to formally enquire how a multimodal pedagogical approach could be  implemented with adult immigrant learners in a non-academic Canadian ESL setting. The study was qualitative and had a small number of participants and specific context of one classroom and therefore, although the emerging understandings can contribute to our body of knowledge in this field, the findings cannot be generalized to all adult ESL contexts. There were several distinguishing features of this research project which also need to be noted. The students in this class were all highly educated women who were engaged as a community of learners. The topic of the research project was also one in which almost all students were particularly  179 invested. Further, the study had the limited timeframe of five weeks. As such, this study was limited. There is a need for further studies to investigate the general benefits and challenges of a multimodal pedagogical approach for language and content development of adult learners in non-academic programs in ways that this study did not address: mixed gender classes of adult learners, a longer term study of how a multimodal pedagogical approach is implemented over a number of curricular units, including pedagogical units in which students are variably invested. 6.5  Concluding Remarks In response to the first and third research questions for this study, the students and I felt  that the multimodal pedagogical approach enabled students’ meaning making in ways that supported longer term learning and provided challenges to develop language beyond expectations for the officially designated level of the class. In response to the second and fourth research questions for this study, the students reported and I observed that they were invested in the topic, and the affordances of the multimodal project supported this investment by allowing them to make meaning in multiple modes, including but not limited to linguistic modes. The multimodal pedagogic approach allowed individual student’s diverse learning needs to be supported and challenged with the result all students in this study displayed significant growth in content knowledge and language development. Students were also able to work beyond the designated level if their skills were strong. Conversely, projects could be designed to work on weaker skills. The projects addressed needs both on individual and group levels. The recruiting of the students’ knowledge about the unit topic in their home countries had the effect of expanding the local to include the global. Huge amounts of information were digested and understood about the local education system, but, in addition, an enormous amount was learned about education systems transnationally.  180 Competing responsibilities – particularly childcare and completing ‘homework’ – were problematic for some participants in this study. Attempts to find classroom solutions to address this issue were only partially successful. Presentation of the multimodal projects was one of the most important components of this unit of work. Sharing publicly in an authentic communicative experience had huge benefits for development of language skills of speaking and listening. Further, and significantly in my opinion, the students were able to receive affirmation of identities and respect for their individual opinions and talents. Of particular importance in this study was student agency with respect to the learning tasks. Students had a lot of control over the content of their projects, particularly Research Tasks 2, 3, and 4. Importantly for language development, they had control over modes and had agency to focus on whatever language skills they chose to, as well as the opportunity to recruit talents and interests for learning (e.g. drawing). This study is very preliminary in the area of multimodality as little research has been undertaken with adult learners, particularly in non-academic language programs for immigrants. As such, much more research in this area seems warranted. Examination of the various factors which contributed to the success of this project with this particular class or learners might be warranted. How important is the teacher-student relationship, for example, or how much explicit teaching about the modes of meaning-making or semiotics might be beneficial? Could an avoidance of using weaker skills be more problematic in other multimodal studies; conversely do the benefits gained from showcasing stronger skills in projects outweigh this possible liability, particularly with vulnerable or marginalized learners? Would the level of investment observed in this study, with several students missing sleep to complete their projects, be a problem in  181 future applications of this approach? Is involving children as experts and judges problematic from an immigrant parenting perspective? This study, as stated several times in this thesis, was very preliminary because little research on a multimodal pedagogic approach has been undertaken with adult learners in nonacademic settings. Although student and teacher data from this study seem to indicate that this approach was hugely beneficial for this particular group of learners, it was a small study and the emerging understandings are not generalizable. 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Global Networks, 5(4), 359-377.  192  Appendix A Invitation THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA  Department of Language & Literacy Education 2125 Main Mall Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4 Tel: (604) 822-5788 Tel: (604) 822-3154  RE: English Language Services for Adults (ELSA) Level 3 (XXXX) Spring 2012  MULTIMODAL IDENTITY TEXTS: Adult learners, identity and language learning  Dear Students of ELSA 3 (XXXX), Your English class will soon be starting a unit of study on the education system in Canada. The goal of this unit is to help you better navigate both your and your children’s present and future studies through an improved understanding of Canadian education systems. As the education system in Canada is most likely significantly different from the education system you are familiar with in your home country, this unit of study will ask you to reflect on these differences, using your knowledge of a system you are familiar with to learn about one you are unfamiliar with. Learning tasks will include opportunities to work creatively, using different modes (ways of expression) (e.g. verbal, visual, musical, dramatic) of your choice, and to reflect on your individual learning style preferences. As part of the ELSA curriculum, the project has four stages: 1. An exploration of the differences in educational systems of your home country and Canada; 2. A reflection on and presentation about someone who has been a positive, influential educator in your past; 3. An examination of how educational opportunities factored into your decision to come to Canada; 4. Production of an ‘identity text’ – an original creative work in any artistic mode(s) of your choice (e.g. words, images, music, drama) which expresses your and/or your children’s educational past, present, and hopes for the future. Researchers from the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia (UBC), one of whom is your teacher, plan to conduct a research project to 8 March 2012 // Version 2.0 E-mail: Web Site:  LLED.educ@ubc.ca www.LLED.educ.ubc.ca  Page 1 of 2 Courier Address: 2034 Lower Mall Road, Room 100 UBC, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z2  193  194 Appendix B Consent Form THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA  Department of Language & Literacy Education 2125 Main Mall Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4 Tel: (604) 822-5788 Tel: (604) 822-3154  CONSENT FORM: Students  MULTIMODAL IDENTITY TEXTS: Adult learners, identity and language learning A Research Case Study Contributing to a Graduate Thesis (Master of Arts) Principal Investigator:  Dr. Margaret Early Associate Professor Department of Language and Literacy Education The University of British Columbia (UBC) Tel: (XXX) XXX-XXXX Email: XXX  Co-investigator:  Susan Bonham Graduate Student (Master of Arts) Department of Language and Literacy Education The University of British Columbia (UBC) Tel: (XXX) XXX-XXXX Email: XXX  PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to better understand how a multimodal identity text project – a project that uses different ways (modes) of expression (e.g. images, music, drama) – can serve to develop adult English language learners’ content and second language learning. The students will complete several classroom activities related to the English Language Services for Adults (ELSA) level 3 curriculum, participate in classroom discussions and create a multimodal product (a poster, PowerPoint, dramatic, musical or poetic presentation) in the modes of their choice to represent their understandings of the education system in Canada. Those students who choose a (dramatic, musical, or poetic) presentation will be videotaped to include a digital copy of their presentation in their identity text project portfolio. 7 March 2012 // Version 2.0  Page 1 of 4  195 PROCEDURES: If you agree to participate in the research, the work that you produce and the ideas that you share in classroom discussions will be used as part of the study. The lessons and the activities featured in this research study are part of the teacher’s regular curriculum for ELSA Level 3. Your classroom activities, discussions, and project presentations will be photographed and recorded (video or audio) only with your permission. Your participation or non-participation in the research will not affect how the classes are taught. At the end of task 3 and task 4, you will be asked to reflect on the ideas and work that you have produced in the class, both in focus-group classroom discussions and in writing. The classroom discussions will be audiotaped. You can review the audio recordings at any time. Your class work will also be collected in a project portfolio. This may include copies or recordings of artwork (whether it’s a poster, video, photographs of 3-dimensional work, or another mode), writing, or materials that you create using a computer (PowerPoint). CONFIDENTIALITY: Your identity will be kept strictly confidential, during and after the study. Only the principal investigator and the co-investigator will have access to the data collected in this study. You and your school will not be named in any reports or publications of the completed research. All data, including information about your identity, will be securely stored in a locked filing cabinet in a research office at UBC. Digital data will be stored in a password-protected computer file. Sometimes a student may be very proud of her work and want to have her name included. For example, you might create a painting, write a poem or compose a song that is very special to you. After the completion of the classroom project, we will send you another note to ask you if you want your name to be included with your work. We will not include your name without first getting your permission. DURATION: The study will take five weeks, the duration of the education and parenting unit. The teacher will record field notes of regular classroom activities at weekly intervals. The focus-group discussions will be audiotaped and will last approximately 30 minutes. Individual presentations and performances, each lasting no longer than 15 minutes, will also be videotaped. The camera will be arranged so that it does not interfere with the presentation.  7 March 2012 // Version 2.0  Page 2 of 4  196  197 CONSENT: Please complete the following and return it to the principal investigator, who will collect the forms in your ELSA class. Your signature below indicates that you have read the information provided above. You understand that your participation in this research is voluntary, and that you have freely and willingly consented to participate in this research project. Your signature also indicates that you have received a copy of this consent form for your own records. You may withdraw your consent at any time without any consequences to you. Please check the appropriate box for each line: You consent to ! participate in this research study ! be photographed for this research study ! be audio recorded for this research study ! be video recorded for this research study You consent that your work for this identity text project (written, musical, dramatic, visual, or some other artistic mode) ! may be photographed for this research study ! may be audio recorded for this research study ! may be video recorded for this research study Remember that your identity and work will remain confidential. If your creative work will be used in any public format such as your teacher’s thesis, conference presentations, or academic journals and you wish to have your name included to identify creative authorship, you will have the opportunity to grant permission on a separate form that will be distributed after the completion of the classroom research period. OR  ! I do not consent to participate in this research study  Name (please print): Signature: Date: Thank you very much for your attention to this request.  7 March 2012 // Version 2.0  Page 4 of 4  198 Appendix C Consent Form – Chinese Translation  2125 Main Mall , , : (604) 822-5788 : (604) 822-3154  :  :  :  ,  Margaret Early  : XXX-XXX-XXXX : XXX@ubc.ca :  Susan Bonham  : XXX-XXX-XXXX : XXX  : — —  PPT  V6T 1Z4  199  :  PPT :  : 5 30 15 :  2012 3 7  // 2.0  2  4  200  201  ! ! !  ! ! !  ! : : :  2012 3 7  // 2.0  4  4  202 Appendix D Consent Form – Farsi Translation  Department of Language & Literacy Education 2125 Main Mall Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4 Tel: (604) 822-5788 Tel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arch 2012 // Version 2.0  Page 1 of 4  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arch 2012 // Version 2.0  Page 2 of 4  204  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arch 2012 // Version 2.0  Page 4 of 4  206 Appendix E Consent Form – Japanese Translation Department of Language & Literacy Education 2125 Main Mall Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4 Tel: Tel:  604 604  822-5788 822-3154  Margaret Early UBC  Tel: XXX-XXX-XXXX Email: XXX@ubc.ca Susan Bonham UBC  Tel: XXX-XXX-XXXX Email: XXX  :  English Language Services for Adults  ELSA  3  207  ELSA  3  3  4  3D  5 30 15  1  208  209  ELSA  ! ! ! ! !  !  !  !  210 Appendix F Consent To Attribution Form THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA Department of Language & Literacy Education 2125 Main Mall Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4 Tel: (604) 822-5788 Tel: (604) 822-3154  CONSENT FORM: Publication of Student Work and Public Attribution of Creative Authorship MULTIMODAL IDENTITY TEXTS: Adult learners, identity and language learning A Research Case Study Contributing to a Graduate Thesis (Master of Arts) Principal Investigator:  Dr. Margaret Early Associate Professor Department of Language and Literacy Education The University of British Columbia (UBC) Tel: XXX-XXX-XXXX Email: XXX@ubc.ca  Co-investigator:  Susan Bonham Graduate Student (Master of Arts) Department of Language and Literacy Education The University of British Columbia (UBC) Tel: XXX-XXX-XXXX Email: XXX  I wish to have my name included with the publication of my work. I have previously agreed to have my work included in the research project entitled “Multimodal Identity Texts” and signed a consent to have my findings contribute to a thesis, be shared at national and international conferences, and be published in professional and research journals. I do not wish to have my work published anonymously in these formats. By signing this consent form, I am communicating my desire to have my work attributed to me in any print, digital, or other media used to communicate the results of the research project. Name (please print): Signature: Date:  8 March 2012 // Version 2.0 E-mail: Web Site:  LLED.educ@ubc.ca www.LLED.educ.ubc.ca  Page 1 of 1 Courier Address: 2034 Lower Mall Road, Room 100 UBC, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z2  

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