Transitional-Literacy.Org is a non-profit corporation intended to serve the English language/literacy learning needs of a wide range of learners and surrounding communities. These populations include international and domestic students whose first languages are other than English (e.g., Spanish, Cherokee, Navajo, Hani, Akha, Crow, Mandarin, Japanese, Vietnamese, French, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Arabic), and those with English as their first language who have non-standard literacy foundations due to a variety of reasons (e.g., limited access to literacy resources and education). Transitional-Literacy.Org supports interdisciplinary approaches to assist literacy/language learners in transitioning from their primary literacy backgrounds to what is perceived as the more standard day-to-day English languages and sign systems of the Academic/Professional Disciplines and the Applied Technologies.
This non-profit’s main purposes are to serve as a Web resource for these populations, and to seek funding and other types of support for action-based research that informs teaching and learning across content areas (e.g., English for Chemistry; English for Physics; English for Automotive Technology; English for Psychology; English for Anthropology; English for Nursing; English for Construction Technology; English for History; English for Math). This support of learners transitioning from one literacy context to another also includes Indigenous language preservation, ESL/EFL (English as a Second Language/English as a Foreign Language) teaching and research, and Bilingual Education.
Transitional-Literacy.Org is dedicated to the idea that learners, and in fact, all of humanity, read the world and author their lives (quoted and paraphrased from Paolo Freire and Mikhail Bakhtin) with very real-world consequences from the languages they learn, live, and breath every day. A major part of this activity with languages is recognizing the profound literacy-based transitions that occur every moment of our lives as we move from reading a stoplight to reading a chemistry lab report, to reading the moods of the people around us; then we respond by creating language in a continual back and forth, a collaborative imitative process (Bakhtin; Tomasello).
Whether we intend collaboration or not, human communication is collaborative in the sense of our continual response of reading and reacting in positive and negative ways during communicative events; this shared cognitive-communicative process shapes and shades meaning (see Tomasello and the terms shared-attentional scenes and the uniquely human evolutionary development of intention-reading ; see the research on mirror neurons; see also the work on the utterance from Bakhtin).
Each specific situation in which a reading of the world takes place involves a different type of sign-system, or a synthesis of old systems with new systems, and ways to use a specific sign system for work in sociocultural situations. In other words, we use specific languages and sub-dialects, and all kinds of interrelated strategies, to organize this cacophony of signs to reach goals and to make things happen (Davydov; Kozulin; van Lier). These sign systems include algebraic formulas; accounting formulas; the languages of customer service agents; the languages of police officers; the languages of carpenters; the languages of fishermen; the languages of soldiers, sailors, and marines; the languages of gang members; the languages of academics and all their sub-dialects; the languages of poker players; the languages of fraternity and sorority members; the languages of pilots and air traffic controllers; the languages of real estate agents and mortgage brokers; the languages of plumbers; the languages of IT professionals; the languages of parents; the languages of fantasy-football players; the languages of physicists; the languages of Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists; the list is endless. The point is that we transition from one reading and writing context to another as part of living in the world; this is not a new idea; the actualizing of these ideas about language and literacy across academic disciplines and applied technologies is the problem: prompting change in the academy is like trying to use a stick of butter as a screwdriver to loosen an old, rusty screw. . . on a hot day.
Transitional-Literacy.Org is dedicated to researching and supporting this multiple-literacy, interdisciplinary perspective, with the ultimate goal of finding effective ways to support learners with reading the world and authoring their lives.
Bakhtin, M. (1986). Speech genres and other late essays. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Davydov, V. (1999). The content and unsolved problems of activity theory. In Y. Engestrom, R. Miettinen, and R. L. Punamaki (Eds.), Perspectives on activity theory (pp. 39-52). N.Y.: Cambridge University Press.
Friere, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: The Continuous International Publishing Group Inc.
Kozulin, A. (1998). Psychological tools: A sociocultural approach to education. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
Peirce. C. S. (1991). Peirce on Signs: Writings on Semiotic by Charles Sanders Peirce. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press
Pineda, J. (2010) Mirror Neuron Systems: The Role of Mirroring Processes in Social Cognition New York: Humana Press.
Tomasello, M. (1999). The cultural origins of human cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Tomasello, M. (2003). Constructing a language: A usage-based theory of language acquisition. Cambridge, MA: Harbard University Press.
van Lier, L. (2004). The ecology and semiotics of language learning: A sociocultural perspective. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers