TEACHING ENGLISH MULTIMODALLY. THE USE OF NEW TRAVEL WEBSITES IN EFL ENVIRONMENTS
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This paper reports on the first stage of an Italian national project, Access Through Text (ACT henceforth), designed to respond to issues related to reading strategies, textual barriers and online access to web texts in English in educational environments, with specific reference to English as a Foreign Language (EFL). The first stage of the work has been focused on the theoretical foundation on which the project is based, in particular giving suggestions about how digital literacy for learners aged 6-18 can be encouraged and facilitated in web-based multimodal platforms (Jones, Hafner 2012). An inventory of integrative systems has been created to account for a range of devices that help break down barriers in texts (Baldry, Gaggia, Porta, 2011; Gaggia 2012; Porta 2012). The second section of this paper presents the design and administration of a needs analysis for the identification of specific needs for the three targeted age groups of EFL learners (group 1: 6-10, group 2: 11-14; group 3: 15-18). The survey also investigates which best practices can be adopted with regard to a) ease of access; b) awareness of sociocultural and genre-related textual barriers, and c) language problems for EFL learners. This paper will focus on Group 3, i.e. learners aged 15-18, and on how New Travel websites (NTWs) can be used in educational environments through task-based activities. Preliminary findings have shown that the text barriers identified in NTW can be ascribed to different socio-semiotic, multimodal and linguistic areas. Multimodal corpora have been created and annotated for the purpose of unpacking and tackling text barriers. The rationale of corpora selection (Baldry, O’Halloran 2010), replicability of the experiment, issues in categorization and taxonomies involved in NTWs will be discussed, with the final goal of providing guidelines for teachers, parents and other stakeholders in the field of digital literacy..
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