Introducing Transitional-Literacy.Org

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Transitional-Literacy.Org is a not-for-profit website intended to serve the English language/literacy learning needs of a wide range of learners and surrounding communities. The main mission is to serve as a resource for late high-school age and adults of all ages going through some major transition such as high school to college or technical training, back to college later in life, learning English as an additional language, immigrants or refugees transitioning to the U.S. or another country, and other circumstances in life that prompt transitions in using language, related technologies, and other resources for a variety of work and living situations.

Related missions include building targeted scholarship funds for further college/university education, vocational/technical training, and basic GED and workforce education. Transitional-Literacy.Org also provides website links that cover broad areas of English language learning, linguistics, literacy, formal assessment protocols, and scholarship and grant information, all of which can serve students, teachers, and communities interested in the developmental (i.e. remedial; transitional) English language learning and literacy needs for a wide range of purposes. 

As part of an effort to promote transparency in research, Transitional-Literacy.Org hosts raw data and extensive instructional materials from classroom research and a number of academic papers that emphasize the process features (i.e., the how) of literacy/language-learning outcomes rather than the normal emphasis on stand-alone outcomes. Related to this research, Transitional-Literacy.Org also seeks funding for post-secondary classroom-based research aimed to inform instruction and a wide audience of stakeholders (e.g. administrators, students, parents, interested members of the community).

Transitional-Literacy.Org is dedicated to the idea that learners and 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 breathe 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). 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 particularly new idea. However, many of these ideas call for necessary transformations of our 20th Century perceptions and attitudes about language, literacy, and what language competency and literacy means in the 21st Century (Beach; Kress). 

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.

PS: Traditional linguists do not use the term “language” to describe sub-dialects or speech registers.  Language is used here to emphasize the nature of speech genres (Bakhtin).


Bakhtin, M. (1986). Speech genres and other late essays. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Beach, R. (2012). Constructing digital learning commons in the literacy classroom. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy  55 (5) (248-451) .

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.

Kress, G. (2003). Literacy in the new media age. N.Y. Routledge.

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. (2009) 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

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