Kempster, J.R. Digital poetry for adult English learners with limited education: Possibilities in language learning, literacy development and interculturality. TESOL in Context, 31(2),5-22.
This article describes a digital literacy project involving poetry writing, using an online book creator app for English language learners with emergent print literacy skills. The project was conducted in a beginners class in the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) in Australia.
The author provides a comprehensive outline of the background to the project and its theoretical underpinnings including a sociocultural perspective and a strengths-based approach to language and literacy teaching and learning. The project incorporated the Mutually Adaptive Learning Paradigm (MALP) checklist which include accepting the conditions for learning, combining processes for learning and focusing on new activities for learning to guide the planning and delivery of the program.
The project was initiated when students in the class indicated that due to their sense of unpreparedness for online learning as the program moved to emergency remote learning at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic they wanted to have an opportunity to enhance and extend their digital skills, including using a keyboard, emailing and learning about smartphone applications and functions.
The project enabled personal exploration and agency as students chose content from their memories and life experience to create their poems. The text, the story of a refugee resetting in Australia, helped students elicit their own memories and content for their poems.
In the classroom students worked in small groups to share memories, co-drafted their poems with the instructor and then typed the texts into the book creator, independently or with the direct support of the instructor. The students had opportunities to become familiar with a range of digital tools for various purposes including online typing practice logging in to sites, navigating online maps and using the basic tools in the online book publishing program.
The book created in this project can be accessed here: Remember Me
Based on the what was learned in this project the author suggests that future research or digital literacy work in the language classroom could productively focus on the potential of strengths-based approaches. This would draw on students’ languages, their life experiences and their accumulated knowledge. It could also focus on how poetry writing, as a digital literacy project, can motivate and support language and literacy learning and has the potential to build and foster community and intercultural understanding