English Language Arts 8

Course Outline

Literacy in the Twenty-First Century

Literacy is the ability to make and express meaning through a variety of language processes. Changes in society and technology have affected the ways that people use language to communicate, think, and learn, and have altered the very concept of what it means to be literate. The notion of what constitutes a text has broadened. The term “text,” as used in this document, refers to aural, visual, and print produced by a range of technologies. This expanded definition of text acknowledges the broad range of forms and media, often used in multimedia formats, with which individuals interact to make meaning today. In the same vein, for purposes of clarity, the terms “authoring” and “author” have been used to indicate situations where students create texts using print or other ways of representation. These changes, driven largely by changes in communication and authoring technologies, have fundamentally altered the ways we interact with text to create and express meaning, placing demands upon the literate person to possess a wide range of skills, strategies, and abilities. (NCTE 2008) Language users in the twenty-first century need to 

  • develop proficiency with the tools of technology  
  • build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally  
  • design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
  • manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
  • create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
  • attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

It is within this flexible and dynamic concept of literacy that English language arts instruction needs to be placed. The goal of the Atlantic Canada English language arts curriculum is to enable students to be reflective, articulate, literate individuals who successfully use language to think, learn, and communicate. Foundation for the Atlantic Canada English Language Arts Curriculum (Atlantic Provinces Education Foundation 1996) provides a comprehensive framework for developing an integrated language arts program spanning students’ entry to public school through to grade 12. The English language arts curriculum grades 7–9 supports the attainment of this goal by engaging students in a wide range of literacy experiences designed to 

  • develop increasing control over language processes
  • use and respond to language effectively and purposefully  
  • appreciate the importance of language and literacy in all its forms and functions 

It is essential that teachers provide instruction and support students in developing their ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate messages in a wide variety of print, visual, aural, and multimedia forms and contexts. Although each medium has different characteristics, strengths, and unique conventions of text construction, distinctions among the various literacies, including media literacy, information literacy, critical literacy, and visual literacy, are blurring in the digital, non-linear and multimedia context of the twenty-first century.

The grades 7–9 program is language-based, collaborative, and interactive. The program is characterized by instruction that balances content and process with attention to developing students’ knowledge, skills, and motivation. 

Students’ knowledge about language should be developed in the context of language in use, not through isolated exercises. The language arts program is an integrated program that treats skills as elements of processes and processes as elements of communication. The focus of the program is on enhancing students’ communication capabilities. More than half of the time allotted to language arts should be spent on reading and writing activities.

The program should provide opportunities for all students to use communication, information retrieval, and information-processing technologies. Students should also make optimal use of community and school resource centres/libraries and the variety of resources they offer. 

It is important that language arts classrooms provide a wide variety of reading resources that address the interests and needs of learners at each grade level. Resources should be available to support developing readers and readers whose fluency is beyond the expectation for the grade.

The program at this level emphasizes 

  • using talk as a tool for thinking and learning
  • writing, reading, and talking about writing and reading
  • using language within the context of drama
  • exploring visual images and ways in which written and spoken language combine with image in visual media

Updated August 23, 2021