UBC-DIVERSEcity Literacy Project: Update

Mark Turin, Academic Team - UBC

23 January 2022


The UBC-DIVERSEcity Language and Literacy Project is an ethnographic study situated within two beginner-level, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes that adopted a hybrid model of in-person and virtual learning by DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society. As of January 2022, however, the classes have temporarily transitioned to being entirely online with an expectation to return to the hybrid model within the coming weeks. Welcoming students from all over the world, DIVERSEcity’s classes are characterized by a high degree of linguistic and cultural diversity, and the research team have been examining student experiences learning English and the role that their English-language and literacy classes play in their transition to life in Canada. The effects and implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual learning on teaching strategies, curricula development, and the cultivation of language and literacy skills are additional areas of focus.

Currently in the fieldwork phase of research, our research team is investigating the many values and beliefs towards language, literacy, and pedagogy that are present in DIVERSEcity’s learning spaces and we are looking to understand how instructors use different technologies and media to transmit the skills and knowledge necessary for navigating Canadian society. In addition, we are looking into the effects of virtual and socially distanced learning on the creation of connections between students and instructors, as well as the possibilities and limitations of digital media technologies for mediating connections beyond DIVERSEcity’s physical classroom spaces.

When our fieldwork and analysis is complete, we plan to present initial findings to DIVERSEcity staff and instructors in the form of facilitated workshops and a policy paper for DIVERSEcity leadership detailing pedagogical strategies and goals they might consider implementing. In this way, our goal is to work with DIVERSEcity students and educators to navigate the challenging terrain COVID-19 has brought to English language and literacy education together. Academic publications will follow after this feedback process.

This project is a joint effort between the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society (Garrison Duke and Karen Alvarez Torres | Ensuring Full Literacy (ensuringliteracy.ca)). Our research project is co-led by Dr. Mark Turin (Mark Turin | Ensuring Full Literacy (ensuringliteracy.ca)) and Dr. Henny Yeung (Henny Yeung | Ensuring Full Literacy (ensuringliteracy.ca)), and the co-investigators are Elise McClay (MA) (Elise McClay | UBC Language Sciences) and Robert Hanks (Robert Hanks | Ensuring Full Literacy (ensuringliteracy.ca)). DIVERSEcity is a non-profit organization based in Surrey, British Columbia, whose goal is to empower diverse communities and newcomers to Canada with free multilingual educational programs and services.

For more information about the important work done by the DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, please visit their website: DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society (dcrs.ca)