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Exploring the Feasibility of a Pedagogy of Multiliteracies in Introductory Foreign Language Courses

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The 2007 MLA Report calls for large-scale reform in university foreign language (FL) departments to integrate the study of language, literature, and culture and move beyond the the language-content dichotomy that has characterized the undergraduate curriculum for decades. This article explores the implications of these recommendations for introductory FL courses, arguing in favor of a pedagogy of multiliteracies (New London Group, 1996; Kern, 2000) as one pathway toward curricular reform. The adoption of a multiliteracies framework in response to calls for curricular change is not entirely novel, yet most scholarship to date has focused on the need for more explicit attention to students' linguistic development in advanced-level content courses rather than on pedagogical models for integrating textual content into introductory language courses. To support our position, three challenges to realizing curricular change and fostering literacy in introductory FL courses are discussed – pedagogy, course content, and departmental buy-in – and strategies to address each challenge are proposed. We conclude that in light of the changing landscape in U.S. higher education today, a pedagogy of multiliteracies represents a means of keeping the introductory FL curriculum relevant to students as well as the broader intellectual mission of the university.

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