Symbolic competence Archive

Results in BLC Posts

Lecture by R. Kern, April 15, 2016

Rick Kern, UC Berkeley Technologies and Literacies and Language Education: Looking beyond communicative competence Since the origins of writing, technology has always given people new ways to use and learn languages. This talk will present examples of some ways that digital technologies are currently shaping language and literacy practices in multilingual contexts. These changes raise…

Results in L2 Journal Articles

Beyond a Tolerance of Ambiguity: Symbolic Competence as Creative Uncertainty and Doubt

Tolerance of ambiguity has been referred to as “the indispensable component of symbolic competence” (Kramsch, 2006, p. 251) and the recommendation was later made for college-level language instructors interested in emphasizing symbolic competence in their classrooms to “bring up every opportunity to show complexity and ambiguity” (Kramsch, 2011, p. 364). Within foreign language (FL) education, however, there is often a tendency to encourage negotiation of meaning in intercultural communication as a means of overcoming ambiguity. Yet ambiguity is an integral attribute of poetic and academic language as well as of day-to-day interactions, and embodies the very experience of language learning. Thus, FL pedagogies that incorporate the notion of symbolic competence emphasize ...

Performing Deafness: Symbolic Power as Embodied by Deaf and Hearing Preschoolers

Symbolic competence, “the ability to actively manipulate and shape one’s environment on multiple scales of time and space” (Kramsch & Whiteside, 2008, p. 667), offers researchers and educators the ability to understand how learners position themselves. This positioning involves a vying for semiotic resources as a means to question established constructs and re-signify or reframe them (Kramsch, 2011). Theorizations of symbolic competence have thus far given limited attention to the multimodal dimensions of intercultural communication in action, that is, during the process of positioning. In this study, I utilize the operating principles of symbolic competence (positioning, historicity, reframing, and transgressions) to explore the embodied uses of symbolic power (Bourdieu, 1982) in multimodal interactions between deaf and hearing preschoolers. Specifically, this project asks: ...

Exploring Symbolic Competence: Constructing Meaning(s) and Stretching Cultural Imagination in an Intermediate College-Level French Class

This study, conducted in a 300-level college French class with15 students, builds on previous research on symbolic competence (Kramsch, 2009, 2011). Using a film scene and a “Semiotic Gap Activity,” we examine how students construct meaning. What do students prioritize? What do they bring from their past symbolic representations? Are they aware of their own perspectives? What do they gain from the activity? Students were divided ...

Le Pouvoir du Théâtre: Foreign Languages, Higher Education, and Capturing the Notion of Symbolic Competence

The study of foreign languages has historically been a cornerstone in higher education for a variety of very good reasons, one being that it will help students develop a sensitivity to diversity. This rationale is compelling in theory, but requires a practical approach for instruction that actually guides students towards such a learning outcome. Current research (e.g., Byrnes, 2006; Kramsch, 2006; Swaffar, 2006) has argued that the traditional focus on the development of communicative competence often promotes a functional understanding of the target language and dominant cultural values, thereby obscuring ...

Symbolic Competence in Interaction: Mutuality, Memory, and Resistance in a Peer Tutoring Context

Symbolic competence (Kramsch, 2009, 2011) has been proposed as a crucial addition to world language learning, as it enables a language learner to negotiate the complex symbolism of words, expressions, and discursive events from the target culture in order to reference them effectively and in the appropriate contexts. However, fostering symbolic competence is still a challenge within the day to day reality of the world language classroom. Moreover, there is still little research on what symbolic competence looks like in interaction. In this article I examine a peer tutoring context as one possibility for examining symbolic competence in interaction. Using a close discourse analysis ...

“Got Llorona?”: Teaching for the Development of Symbolic Competence.

Cultural and literary texts are used in the foreign language classroom to support learners’ language development, cultural awareness, and reading comprehension. While classroom activities frequently facilitate a literal understanding of facts and events, these texts offer another potential level of analysis: symbolic dimensions, which focus on ...

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