Sunday, March 11, 2012

Linguistic Landscapes

Check out this blog
It might be a nice little reading to reflect on when thinking about the editorial I handed out in class. "Linguistic Landscapes" offer a slightly different way to think about the public use of language.  In fact, I think it's worth mentioning that the link shows the beginnings of a nice little lesson plan.  The writer suggests having students take pictures of public displays of written language and other symbols, then bringing these pictures into class to look at as a group.  I think there are a lot of things a teacher could do with this kind of assignment.  Obviously correcting grammar would be one fairly shallow task.  Another could entail rewriting messages that would be intended for different audiences.  Still another could involve a brief analysis of different messages and short discussions related to the four "critical" questions that we discussed in class last week. 
Just a refresher: 
1)  Who is speaking? 
2)  For whom is the message intended?  How do you know?
3)  Who is being spoken about
4)  What is the basis of this person's knowledge?  Based on what authority is this speaker's voice 'powerful'?  What words, symbols, etc suggest that this message or this speaker are valuable? 

It may take a little work on the part of the teacher to adapt these questions for advertising, graffiti, political slogans, and other artifacts in the Linguistic Landscape.  It would also take a little work adapting this to various students, at different ages, and levels of English proficiency.  But I think there are some really creative activities that could come out of this.  I'm going to try it with university students this week and see what comes of it.

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