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Afterword: Where Do We Go from Here?

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The focus of this special issue as posed in the call for papers highlighted explorations of symbolic competence at several levels: theory; teaching and learning practices; and research. In this Afterword, we consider these levels central to our reflections on the particular contributions of this special issue as well as to considerations of future areas of inquiry. The guiding questions for each included:

Theory: How can symbolic competence be further theorized?Teaching and learning practices: What is the relevance of symbolic competence to the language classroom? Research: How do we conduct research on symbolic competence, its theoretical potentials and limitations, in relationship to classroom learning and pedagogical practices?

The articles in this special issue have made significant contributions in responding to these questions. These articles all grapple with theorizations of symbolic competence in relationship to questions of symbolic representation and language users’ understandings of the relationships between form and meaning; symbolic action and language users’ manipulation of semiotic resources to meaningfully engage in the multilingual and multimodal game; and, symbolic power in terms of how learners engage these resources to play this game. From pedagogical practice to classroom interactions the articles have all demonstrated the relevance of symbolic competence to the language classroom as well as offering insightful and innovative pedagogical practices designed to potentially support its development. Additionally, they provide differing models of research, from the level of detailed analysis of conversation and turns at talk to thematic analysis of reflections on the implementation of new pedagogical practices and considerations of their potentials.

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