Forward by the editor
The 21st century is witnessing a change in perceptions on literacy. The current debates mark a shift away from the earlier gratification with classical or traditional models of literacy, to a new and more demanding discernment on the required thresholds in abilities and requirements, that are typically linked to functional literacy. On its part, UNESCO is recognizing functional literacy as an indispensable skill for the 21st century and warning that many countries do not meet the required threshold levels. However, contemporary studies are suggesting that there is a gap in the perception and attainment of literacy, specifically between OECD and MENA countries.
CALR Vol.11 presents studies and analyses that probe into the concerns and controversies of literacy, in an attempt to disclose the thresholds required in the 21st century and provide analytic, qualitative, descriptive and Vygotskian explorations.
LIST OF ARTICLES
Literacy in Lebanon in the New Millennium
Author: Anny Joukoulian
Faculty of Language
The Lebanese University
With the advent of the 21st century, the world has witnessed a multitude of changes in almost every sector and field, and the educational sector has not been an exception. The notion of literacy today is totally different from what it meant few decades ago. Almost a century ago, anyone who could read and write was considered literate and indispensable. Today, in addition to reading and writing, developing and mastering skills such as critical thinking and implementing technology are considered fundamental and vital. This paper gives an overview of literacy in the 21st century in general and in Lebanon in particular. It defines terms such as literacy, traditional literacy and functional literacy. Data will be collected from current university students and university graduates of different generations using a self-designed survey questionnaire. In addition to that, few students, graduates from different generations and specialists in the field of education will be interviewed. The purpose of the data collection is to show whether high school graduates and university graduates are equipped with the necessary skills for university and the job market respectively. Most importantly, it aims at showing whether literacy in Lebanon is traditional or functional and whether knowing English as a second language has any impact or not. More importantly, it puts forward a list of essential skills that could help high school students and university graduates survive the demands of today’s revolutionized world.
Key words: Twenty-first century literacy skills, traditional literacy, functional literacy, English as a second language, literacy in Lebanon
Perspectives on Literacy in the 21st Century
Author: Louay Khatib
Lebanese University, Lebanon.
There have been controversial views on what constitutes literacy. In earlier times classical literacy was the means of attaining the skills required for operating successfully in societies. In the 21st century, conceptions on literacy are changing. Current debates identify a shift in perspective as well as a new threshold in abilities and requirements (CALR, 2019). Functional literacy is currently acknowledged by UNESCO as an indispensable skill in the 21st century, at individual as well as community level. This study engages in reviews that reveal that many countries do not meet the threshold levels required, despite the interdependence of literacy and modernity, as well as the building of nation states. OECD countries set their threshold at functional literacy levels; MENA countries keep their focus within classical literacy requirements, focusing on ability to read and write. The study traces the development of perspectives on literacy and compares the effective skills of the population of 15 year olds in the comprehension and processing of texts, after years of education in English native language context and English as EFL situation. Practitioners’ views are sought to illuminate the interpretations and chart future directions.
Key words: functional literacy, cognitive perspective, multimodal literacies, classical literacy.
Download link: Article 2.pdf
An Attempt to Track English Functionality in the Use of English by Youth Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: How often do they use the English Language and for what Purposes?
A Qualitative-Descriptive Case Study
Lebanese University, Lebanon.
UNESCO (2020) identifies functionally literate person as a person who can engage in all those activities in which literacy is required for effective function of his or her group and community and also for enabling him or her to continue to use reading, writing, and calculation for his or her own and the community’s development.
This case study aims at exploring the frequency of usage of English language literacy skills (comprehension and text processing) in activities related to protection, career development, education, immigration, socialization and globalization. This qualitative- descriptive study is conducted on displaced Syrian students who are above eighteen and have achieved APTIS A1 level of English in Lebanon in summer 2019. Participants who are convenient samples of their population are given reliable and valid survey questionnaires. The questionnaire is divided into 2 sections. The first section includes demographic information about the participants and the second section includes five activities. Each activity includes 4 statements which the participants have to mark the convenient frequency of using English literacy skills per each of them. The data are presented in statistical tables/ graphs. Results are drawn to rate the usage of English literacy skills per each statement and per each activity as a whole using the scientific program for statistical studies(SPSS). Conclusion and recommendations help linguists and researches to seek ways to develop literacy curriculums/programs which enable this population and other ones in the MENA region who have similar context (over 18, study English as a foreign language, displaced or refugees….) to study and use English functionally for their own and their communities’ development.
A Vocationally Focused Approach to Teaching Literacy in the 21st Century: A Vygotskian perspective
Author: Ghada Jawabra
Lebanese University, Lebanon.
The overriding concern with economic crisis following Covid-19 pandemic meant that literacy education became narrowly defined as skills-for-employment. There have been attempted shifts towards a much more vocationally focused agenda, focusing on what is considered to be the key cognitive and workplace skills required for successful participation in the national economic development after the pandemic. Functional literacy links literacy with economic development, individual prosperity and vocational achievement. “The term ‘functional’ should be considered in the broad sense of providing learners with the skills and abilities they need to take an active and responsible role in their communities, everyday life, the workplace and educational settings. Functional English requires learners to communicate in ways that make them effective and involved as citizens, to operate confidently and to convey their ideas and opinions clearly (QCDA 2007). However, many young professionals with college degrees suffer an inability to use functional illiteracy, and this poses a threat to the country’s development. This paper suggests a model for teaching 21st century literacies in which new knowledge and skills necessary for successful adaptation to changing world are continuously acquired throughout life. It proposes a functional, vocationally-focused approach to education based on Vygotsky’s perspective on literacy in the 21st century in order to promote educational reform. This approach attempts to bridge the gap between disciplinary and practical knowledge integrating language and content within a CLIL methodology.
Key words: functional literacy, vocational skills, Bernstein’s re-contextualization, CLIL, Vygotskian perspective on educational reform, 21st century literacies.