Mexican university teacher-researchers’ biliteracy beliefs and practices

Mexico, ID LLCE2015-132

There has been a growing interest in describing higher education academic literacy, mainly university students’ writing skills development  in first (L1) or second  and/ or foreign language (L2); however, there is proportionally less amount of studies documenting language teachers’  literacy beliefs and practices within L1 and L2 (biliteracy). In addition, the teacher cognition processes, when linked to literacy practices, tend to be described from a reduced perspective of literacy, focusing on decontextualized writing practices, perceived as mere skills. In our perception, literacy is conceived as multi-layered phenomena, multiple in its character, denominated “multiliteracies” (Cope & Kalantzis, 2013). Such perspective takes into consideration also sociolinguistic dimensions of text comprehension and production. Furthermore, within the multiliteracies frame, multilingual literacies (Martin-Jones & Jones, 2000) are distinguished and discussed in the present article; in particular the development of biliteracy in the local academic settings.

This paper explores connections between the teachers’ perceptions on literacy, teachers’ own biliteracy development as publishing authors and researchers, and their instructional practices in L2 classes in BA and MA programs in language majors. The research draws on the data obtained  through a questionnaire applied in the first phase of the project (2012-2013) to one hundred participants from three public universities from northern, central and southern part of Mexico, which was completed (2013-2014) by analysis of the narratives gathered through recorded and transcribed interviews from a reduced sample of participants. The selection of a second phase participants based on their research productivity and publishing, among other factors, which enabled the inclusion of 31 participants from the initial sample. The results seem to indicate that language teachers-researchers perceive their L2 literacy in wider terms, beyond mere reading-writing skills development and decodification of the text, which is seems to be apparent in academics with higher academic credentials. Language teacher-researchers’ professional development, diverse educational background and participation in collaborative research projects and publications, embedded in the local institutional contexts, subject both to national the institutional policies, marked changes in teachers practices and beliefs on biliteracy, the experiences that the participant  teachers-researchers are willing to socialize with their peers and students.

Key words:  literacy, biliteracy, biliteracy beliefs and practices, language teachers- researchers’ professional development.