A Case Study of Critical Literacy: Using Picture Books to Engage Taiwanese College Students in Exploring Multiple Perspectives

By Jun-min Kuo.

Published by The International Journal of Literacies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper analyzes an English activity that used Anthony Brown’s picture book Voices in the Park from a critical literacy perspective. The activity occupied 3 hours in one week during the 2009 spring semester. It was designed to integrate students’ language learning with their personal experiences and to foster multiple perspectives on meaningful issues. Participants included 34 first-year students (16 males and 18 females) at a private university in central Taiwan. Two research questions were addressed: (1) How did the students respond to the activity from the perspective of critical literacy? Data included students’ artifacts and assignments, their final reflection papers, and follow-up interviews with 10 students. Through a qualitative data analysis, the present study suggests that an activity using an issue-oriented picture book led students to draw on their personal experiences to examine meaningful issues in their lives from multiple perspectives. Reflective viewpoints stemmed not only from the picture book, but also from various tasks such as poster making, pair/group discussions, and writing assignments. From the perspective of language learning, this paper indicates that critically reading a picture book was substantially different from students’ previous learning experiences. A picture book as the main learning resource was highly effective in motivating students to study English. In addition, students became active learners while they were discussing topics with others and expressing their opinions in English. Finally, this activity made students rethink their English learning; they now felt that there could be more than one teaching method or approach in the classroom.

Keywords: Picture Books, Multiple Perspectives, Critical Literacy, Taiwanese College Students, EFL Classrooms

The International Journal of Literacies, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp.1-14. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.720MB).

Dr. Jun-min Kuo

Associate Professor, The English Language Center, Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan

Jun-min Kuo is an associate professor in the English Language Center at Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan. His research interests include critical literacy, qualitative inquiry, children’s literature, and popular culture in the EFL classroom.