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Multiliteracies: The Changing World of Communication

Westby, Carol PhD

doi: 10.1097/TLD.0b013e3181d0a0ab

The technological and social/cultural demands of the 21st century are reshaping communication requirements. Students not only need to be able to communicate effectively in oral and written language, but they also need to communicate effectively in multimodal ways—they need to become skilled in multiliteracies. This article explains the two factors that have given rise to multiliteracies: (1) the proliferation of multimodal ways of making meaning where the written word is part and parcel of visual, audio, and spatial patterns and (2) the increasing salience of cultural and linguistic diversity characterized by local diversity and global connectedness. The nature of multiliteracies is described, a framework for teaching multiliteracies is explained, and an example of strategies for promoting comprehension and use of multiliteracies in students with language learning impairments is presented. Students with language impairments have deficits that extend beyond oral language and traditional print literacy. If they are to communicate effectively in the 21st century, they need the skills that are essential for comprehension and production of multiple modalities.

Bilingual Multicultural Services, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Corresponding Author: Carol Westby, PhD, 1808 Princeton NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106 (

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins