Revue Méthodal

Méthodologie de l'enseignement-apprentissage des langues

The formation of a context of a “literacy pedagogy” with the implementation of innovative teaching methods: The role of the text to the conquest of literacy during teaching of Greek as a second/ foreign language.

Sofia ZERDELI , Democritus University of Thrace, Greece

La définition du concept de littéracie est associée aux pratiques sociales qui forment différents genres de textes en fonction du contexte communicatif. De nombreuses thèses théoriques associées à ce concept ont influencé les pratiques d’enseignement, tout en créant un nouveau cadre appelé la Pédagogie de la littéracie. La production d’un texte est considérée comme extrêmement importante pour la transmission des connaissances ainsi que pour l’accroissement de la compétence linguistique critique. Dans cet article, nous présentons, à un plan théorique, une première tentative de définition et de présentation du développement historique du concept de littéracie en mettant particulièrement l’accent sur le rôle de la littéracie fonctionnelle, critique et numérique combinée à des méthodes pédagogiques innovantes. En second lieu, une proposition d’enseignement visant à développer les compétences de compréhension et de production en fonction de différents genres de textes puisés dans les manuels scolaires d’enseignement du grec, langue seconde/ langue étrangère, est présentée.

The meaning of literacy is relevant to the social practices, which form different text genres to the occasional communicative frame. Many theoretical views concerning this meaning influenced the pedagogical practices forming a new frame, known as “literacy pedagogy”. The production of a text is considered extremely important for the transmission of knowledge and the development of critical language awareness. In this paper, there shall be an attempt to define the meaning and historical evolution of literacy, at a first level, emphasizing the role of functional, critical and digital literacy, in combination with innovative teaching methods. Secondly, there shall be a presentation of a teaching proposal which aims to create comprehension and production activities based on different text genres of Modern Greek school guides while teaching Greek as a second/ foreign language.

1. The meaning of the term “literacy”: theoretical background

The term “literacy”, in a wider sense, is a complicated phenomenon, a social institution with a lot of multifunctional, cultural, social, and cognitive aspects (Baynham, 2002, p. 34-38; Chatzisavidis, 2005, p. 36; Arhakis, 2005, p. 39).The definition of the meaning of “literacy” is relevant to the social practices and conditions, which form different text genres to the occasional communicative frame (Hasan & Williams, 1996; Street, 1995). The theoretical views, which developed around the meaning of literacy, later influenced the pedagogical practices forming a new frame, known as “literacy pedagogy” (Cope & Kalantzis, 1993; Fterniati, 2010, p. 38).
The understanding of a text is a result of a procession, during which the individual learns to spot the role from different linguistic and non-linguistic elements to the prominence of the structure and its informative organization (Kress, 1994; Kostouli, 1998). The elaboration and the production of text as “a main means of school literacy” is considered extremely important for the transmission of knowledge to diverse domains with a view of developing critical language awareness (Fairclough, 1992). As a consequence, the conquest of critical literacy is a process of the formation of lectures which is revealed and defined through the interaction of texts and interactive activities (Baynham, 2002, p. 34-38).
Talking all of the above into consideration, the following paper attempts to approach the meaning of literacy theoretically as well as the historical evolution of the term, placing great emphasizing on the role of functional and critical literacy, as well as that of New Technologies (digital literacy), through the implementation of innovative teaching methods, while teaching Greek as a second/ foreign language. To follow, the transition from the above meanings to literacy pedagogy and multiliteracies shall also be examined (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000, p. 25-26).
To conclude, there shall be a presentation of a teaching proposal with comprehension, production activities, and exercises; all of which compose different text genres of Modern Greek school guides of Junior High School grades and teaching guides of the Greek Language as a second / foreign language (Krashen, 1984; Μatsagouras, 2001; Kostouli, 1998) .

1.1 Literacy – Linguistic Literacy: Conceptual Delimitations

In later decades, international bibliography revolving around language teaching considers the term “literacy” to be vital. The concept of “literacy” is not only relatable to the concept of “alphabetism”, but also has a broader meaning. The term “alphabetism” was used to describe the goal of lingual education in basic education (Dendrinou, 2001, p. 92-94). However , the term “literacy” is not only limited to the ability of reading and writing, but also has evolved into a broader, more complicated notion that goes beyond the knowledge of the alphabet (Arhakis, 2005, p. 39; Dendrinou, 2001, p. 90-91; Mitsikopoulou, 2001, p. 209-213). Nowadays, in technologically advanced societies, the term “literacy” describes the ability to comprehend, interpret, and critically evaluate various kinds of texts and be generally efficient in different environments and communicative situations through the proper use of written and oral speech by processing lingual and multimedia texts (pictures, diagrams, sketches, maps etc.(Chatzisavidis, 2005, p. 39-40).
Finding a unanimously accepted definition for “linguistic literacy” is difficult, not only because of the term’s polysemous nature, but also, because the word is referenced in different ages and societies. However, throughout its historical progression, many efforts have been made to define and redefine it. Baynham cites the following results of these efforts: “A person is literate when he/she has acquired the necessary knowledge and skills that allow him/her to participate in social activities that require literacy, in order for the person to efficiently operate and whose accomplishments in reading, writing and arithmetic allow him/her to continue using these skills both for personal and social development” (Baynham, 2002, p. 19-20). Many scholars have considered literacy to be a socially defined term, as an activity that is placed between thought and text [1].

1.2 Functional Literacy – Critical Literacy

Studies in the field of literacy often differentiate and focus on the basis of two different approach directions (Arhakis, 2005: 39; Mitsikopoulou, 2001, p. 209-13; Dendrinou, 2001, p. 89-94). The first approach is concerned with functional literacy, with educational programs applied to the current communicative conditions for various kinds of literacy (lingual, mathematical, social and environmental, physics etc.). These conditions determine the communicative skills that students are required to develop through (multi)literacy programs. Functional literacy has to do with a person’s capacity to cope with all activities, whether social or group-based (Baynham, 2002, p. 19-20; Papadopoulou, 2011).
The second approach is critical literacy. This approach aims to sensitize the critical perception of them. Critical literacy is a term that describes the frame within which language is organized and taught in a way that students can realize that, through it, notions are transmitted or doubted. Critical literacy suggests ways to process authentic texts (i.e. reading and writing) by focusing on the use / operation of these texts in relation to social reality - what they mean, what linguistic expressions they treat, what ideological aspects they transmit etc.(Chatzisavidis, Kostouli & Tsiplakou, 2011; Kostouli, 2006, p. 252-255).
Fairclough (1995, p. 7) claims that critical literacy aims to explain how lingual elements and functions present power relations and ideologies, something that people may not completely comprehend. Thus, we can assume that a more specific goal for this approach is critical language awareness, which means the student’s ability to interpret and use the ideological loads of certain language uses.

1.3 Digital Literacy and intercultural dimensions in education

In recent years, due to the rising number of children from families of a different ethnocultural background, teachers constantly seek new sources, methods and teaching strategies, in order to efficiently promote the acceptance of cultural differences and way of learning, interests and capabilities of each individual student (Evagelou, 2007, p. 56). The development of intercultural dimensions in education can be supported by many different means. According to Greek and international bibliography, many innovative educational activities have already enriched the educational process. Furthermore, the rapid growth of technology and especially of the internet, greatly expands the number of multimedia tools available for the teaching process and lead to note-worthy changes in common educational practices (Evagelou, 2007, p. 56).
All of the above educational practices and innovative approaches are integrated into the general frame of literacy (Baynham, 2002, p. 34-38). Literacy has now entered a new age where technology has drastically changed the way we communicate daily. Technological (digital) literacy has become consolidated in our lives and in most fields of human activities. In a world that is increasingly dominated by informative technologies, we can no longer ignore the necessity of these new technologies in the process of school and critical literacy (Raptis & Rapti, 2001, p. 36).

1.4 The formation of a context for “literacy pedagogy”: The role of the text to the conquest of literacy as a social practice

The main definition used for literacy is contextually related to the social practices which form the text genre. Text is defined as the “principal means for school literacy”, whose processing is extremely important for the transmission of knowledge to diverse domains, with a view to developing critical language awareness (Fairclough, 1992).
By adopting the concept of text, we become aware of the term text genre, which describes texts of different social circumstances in a given historical moment. Each genre is a special field of knowledge and action, which consists of a certain thematic context, style and structure [2]. In order to efficiently communicate, a person needs more than proper knowledge of grammatical and syntactical rules, vocabulary and the ability to write and read. He must also know the rules, conventions and structural forms of the different text genres, which are intertwined with the cultural aspect of language, so he can properly participate in social activities (Molasioti, 2007, p. 17; Mitsikopoulou, 2001, p. 209-13).
It can be said that literacy is a person’s knowledge and also the linguistic skills that allow him to critically evaluate his political, cultural, historical and social experiences. Thus, in order to redefine the term, we focus on the use of language in different text genres (Aidinis & Kostouli, 2001). It’s a human activity that lies between thought and text and an institution that grows as humans interact with it (Barton & Hamilton, 1998, p. 3; 2000, p. 7-15). We could say that literacy is a cultural and social practice, a life-long process and, as such, contains society’s potential and ideologies that are shaped critically, creatively and conversely by a person (Papadimitrakopoulos, 2011).
The literacy pedagogy was created and developed according to this belief. In this context, language is not a subject with automatic extensions but a means for critical approach and access to knowledge and the sociocultural reality that gives it meaning. Thus, literacy stipulates the following pedagogical conditions:
 Language competence, which is related to the communicative circumstances, as the communication of students through text and digital material is also considered a communicative circumstance.
 A prerequisite knowledge by the students, allowing them to utilize educational material with relevant standards.
 A development of school knowledge by the student based on the educational material’s guidelines that gradually reduces the need for teacher interference.
 The student’s independent growth of oral and written speech, rendering literacy a usable skill.
 Educational utilization by teachers in a lingual, cognitive, metalingual and meta-reading abilities (all these abilities concern text genres found within the educational material) (Papadimitrakopoulos, 2011).
In pedagogical education for literacy, texts used should be interesting to the students and connect with future challenges as well as being motivate a critical approach (Chatzisavidis, 2007, p. 28-9). This particular educational process does not consider language to be a static product of preset rules. Instead, it views language as an active semiotic system that compels participation and interaction between people, since its efficiency depends on the words produced in any given communicative circumstance. Therefore, in order for teaching to be efficient, students must actively participate (Papadimitrakopoulos, 2011).
According to literacy pedagogy and especially the approach of multiliteracies, text genres processed by students should be chosen from a wide collection of cultural sources in order to better cultivate a critical metalanguage which will bring them in contact with the text’s sociocultural potential (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000, p. 25-26). The meaning of educational texts is not defined by the teacher nor the commonly accepted opinion but by the student’s needs (Chatzisavidis, 2007, p. 29-30). Gordon Wells claims that “[...] under no circumstances the meaning can be found entirely within the text. The comprehension of even the clearest concepts is only possible if the student possesses the knowledge and values similar to the author’s in order to interpret the meaning coded within the text” (Gordon, 2006, p. 89-107). With these prerequisites, a cultural dialogue can flourish in the classroom, a comparison between school language, the language of text genres and that of the students themselves.

2. Teaching Greek as a second/foreign language to student groups: an indicative linguistic activity

The proposed linguistic activity is titled “Discovering the beauties and the culture of Greece” and concerns a combination of texts taken from the third and the tenth unit of the Greek Language book written for the first grade of junior High School, the Greek Language Activity book of the A’ grade of junior High School, as well as teaching guides of the Greek Language as a second / foreign language. Below, we present the methodological application model, (analysis of the processing stages), as well as the text genres, with which the students get in touch. While teaching the subject of the Greek language, active child-centered techniques are chosen, so as for the students to decide, to compare, and to choose the proper material for their topic.

2.1. Lesson elements
Cognitive subject: Modern Greek Language (MGL)
Target –group: Students of High School in multilingual classes
Students’ Grade: B1 – C1
Number of students: 20 (4 groups of five members each). We aim that in each group there is at least one student that can use the internet.
Activity’s topic: “Discovering the beauties and the culture of Greece”
Timetable: (proposed activity’s duration) six two-hour sessions
Place of conducting the activity: classroom, school library, workroom of computing science (Apostolidis et al., 2007).

We aim that our students:
 Cope with various genres and study the linguistic variety and the linguistic style levels (e.g. persuasion language, informative, expressive, and literary) and with various kids of texts (narrative, descriptive, multimodal texts) and identify their characteristics.
 Discover the beauties of Greece, the way people live in different places of Greece, as well as their customs, culture, activities, nutrition, drawing information from books, the internet, encyclopedias, magazines, the press (Orou-Iakovidou, Stylianos &Tooulos, 2006).
 Correctly operate oral and written speech in a foreign language, by adapting it each time to the communicative instance (who is speaking, to whom, when, where, about which matter e.t.c.) (Sarafidou, 2007, p. 123; Charalampopoulos, 2000).

Methodological framework
Method: Communicative, interpretative, exploratory and team work method, exploitation of the genre approach principles.
Strategies / Techniques: 1. brainstorming, 2. conversation - activation of pre-existent knowledge, 3. directed dialogue, 4. analysis of text structure, analysis of expressions 5. work in teams, cooperation, development of cultural belief 6. exploitation of the in-text context, 7. coherence and cohesion of text 8. use of digital sources. 
Integration of skills: production of oral speech, comprehension and production of written speech (Passalis & Papachristou, 2001).

Aid materials
 Greek Language and other subjects (literary, history, geography e.t.c.) school textbooks
 Maps, encyclopedias, posters, images, brochures, informative forms, tourist guides
 Use of the modern Greek language text processing software (Argiropoulou, 2007)
 PC (Internet, e-mail, Word, Power Point)
 Video projector, DVD, Dictionaries, Web Dictionaries [3]

2.2 Conducting stages of the lesson plan

Stage 1: preparation, questioning, planning, introducing the topic.
Stage 2: execution, processing, conducting activities (Each group processes a different genre and replies to corresponding linguistic exercises (comprehension exercises, text structure exercises, lexical exercises, usage of the dictionary).
Stage 3: presentation, feedback, discussion.
Stage 4: assessment.
Stage 5: assignment, evaluation.

Stage 1:
Activity 1- Production of oral speech- introduction to the topic
The teacher shows the following pictures and asks students the following questions:

 Describe the photos. What do you see in each of them?
 Do you travel? If so, how often?
 Where would you most like to travel to?
 Have you ever visited Greece?
 What are your impressions of your visit to Greece this summer? [4]

Activity 2 – Role play:

You are an employee in a hotel in Greece. A customer calls. He/she wants to make a reservation. He asks for the room and the price. You are listening to him/her and answer his/her questions [5].

Stage 2:
Texts-exercises – Group A
We separate the students into two groups, A and B. Each group can be divided into two smaller groups, for the better processing of the texts and exercises.

Text 1. Mitilini. Harbor of arts and culture [6]
The third biggest island of the country is related to history, art and culture. From ancient years, until recently Lesvos never lacked intellectual people, starting from Pitakos (one of the seven great wise men), Sapfo, Alkeos and Theofrastos, up to Evtaliotis and Venezis.
An island of great architecture (approximately 3000 buildings have been accounted as preservable only in the capital!). Lesvos, as one of the most forestry islands of Greece, has to show great germinative successions (olive groves, vineyards, pines, oaks, chestnut trees, firs e.t.c.) One of its great characteristic are the fossil forests with logs of more than twenty million years which lie mostly in the area of Sigrio-Antissa and Eresos. Every part of the island, every shore, xand every village is a surprise; the beauty is interspersed. The gulfs of Gera and Kalloni impressive, as they enter so deep into the island that they resemble lagoons. The island’s round trip is marvelous. Starting from the eastern point, one should stop in Skala Sykamias to enjoy fresh fish next to the famous church of Panagia Gorgona. Then after crossing Mantamado, one reaches Mithimna (Molivos) and Petra in the north. Afterwards, head down to Antissa, to the beautiful Sigri, Eresos, Kalloni, Polixnitos, Plomari and within the highlands lies the beautiful village of Agiasos. At every village and every shore cleanliness and the beauty are evident. One can enjoy swimming and travelling. The culture of gastronomy is superior as well, with original traditional products and recipes that go back centuries. Remains of Antiquity and of Venician domination are everywhere. It is an island synonymous to art and to natural beauty.
(Mag. “Geotropio”, Eleutherotipia newspaper, 2004)

Text 2. Beyond Mitilini [7]
Leaving behind the foam-crowned shores of Chios, we were once again above the Aegean Sea which at that point seemed peacefully dreamlike. Over its unwrinkled surface, where its sea-green faded by the intense sun, large shiny plates formed in many places, as if oil had been spilled onto the waters. One ship, the only one we came across our journey, scored the peaceful sea […]
Mitilini’s mountains were now coming right against us and the next minute we were upon them, almost touching them. Overgrown with olive trees they seemed silver through the sun light…In the depth of their folding, our eyes, bewitched; saw a huge plate of water shining, which we thought was a lake, as it was surrounded with mountains. When we crossed it, we saw it was a gulf, the gulf of Gera, whose narrow and picturesque exit, similar to a bottle neck, didn’t have a larger dimension than that of the shores of a riverbank. The spectacle of the gulf, with its overgrown watersides that shined bright and still beneath us, was truly dreamlike- and one of the most beautiful I had seen in my life.
(Costas Ouranis, Τrips: Greece eds. Bookstore of Estia,1998)


a) In both the texts above there is a description of a place, the island of Lesvos. Read both of the descriptions and compare them (common elements-differences).Try to answer based on: i) the topic, ii) the purpose of writing, iii) the language/style of the texts.

b) From which genre do the 1st and the 2nd text come from? Justify your answer.
i) Tourist guide ii) Literary text

c) Which of the two texts is more experiencing, more personal? Locate the related elements (words/phrases) in the text.

d) Which of the two texts uses scientific language? Underline words or expressions in the text that signify its scientific case.

e) Which words provide greater clarity and accuracy to the description
i) The nouns ii) The adjectives

f) The description is related to:
 i) space (place) ii) time

g) Locate:
i) The verbs and the adjectives of the texts and write them down in two columns
ii) Place them according to where they belong, to a literary text or to travel/tourist guide

h) Locate 5 compound words in the texts writing down their prefixes and suffixes on the following table:

Texts-exercises – Group B [8]

Text 1 In the villages of Pelion
He got on the bus of Makrynitsa-Portaria, which was filled to its full capacity by high-school students who were returning to their villages and of the elderly loaded with packages and parcels. It was a happy bus. The children were talking about their familiar stuff, were teasing each other, exchanging opinions about the crucial match of the local teams, it was understood that Niki of Volos would win and that they would beat their eternal opponent of the plain’s rival city.
They reached Portaria and the whole bus emptied. Andrea had decided to go to Makrinitsa, she liked it there better and apart from that she looked backed on it, nostalgically, since the date of the last school trip, known as five-day trip (penta-imeri).
The bus let all the passengers off at the entrance of the village. They all started to climb up the main road and soon they all disappeared in the narrow alleys.
The shops with the preserves –the supposedly homemade and made on the spot- as well as the familiar tourist shops were all closed and bolted.

Text 2 [9]
The trip to Pelion made me feel very close to the beauty and the wilderness of nature as the scenery up there is sometimes either calming and other times terrible and menacing. The ascension is made through spiral roads which are often dug aside the rocks and lead you to the kingdom of nature, a vast Garden of Eden, which in some places is cultivated and others in wild condition. So, we passed through scrublands with crops, heaths and ferns, through pine forests and through olive groves, chestnut, walnut and apple tree gardens and we couldn’t stop admiring the rich and multifarious vegetation. Sometimes, we came across plane trees and stopped below their cool shadow, near springs or rivulets, enjoying the view and the cool waters. We also passed through side-hanging and overwhelming wooded villages. The houses with amphitheatric arrangement; the red rooftops through the green trees, the Pelion mansions, the bloomy gardens in the yards; all these created a complex, picturesque beauty. The wild scenery we met while climbing scared us every now and then, as we often faced deep valleys, open canyons, sheer gorges and bottomless pits in awe. When we reached the highest point, we tasted the wonderful view; at our feet was the mountain’s descent and, in the background, smaragdine coves, in a perfect combination of mountain and sea. This place, as such, concentrates the glory of the mountain, the orgy of vegetation and the beauty of the sea.

Questions – Exercises:

a) To which genre do the above texts belong?

b) According to which dimensional basis is the narrative speech organized?
i) space
ii) time
(there is a causative reason inherent)

c) What does the writer of the first text narrate? What kind of information does he provide about the individuals, the time and place?

d) In which tenses are the verbs of both the texts and why?

e) Write the sequence of the first text and make up/invent an ending related to the topic.

f) Add up to the first text, connective words or phrases which show the time order of the events and the causative relation between them (at the beginning, next, afterwards, moreover, thereby, later, parallel to etc.).

g) Give a title to the second text.

h) In the second text there is a combination of narrative and descriptive parts. Underline each of these parts.

i) In the next exercise you are given word definitions. Correspond each word with the correct definition:

Stage 3:
The teams present their work – then follows discussion between them. The texts are analyzed experientially , and afterwards a conversation between students is held, regarding the content, the language, the style, the lexical choices, the syntax, the clarity of the texts’ message and it’s response to the aiming target (Graikos, 2005).

Stage 4:
The evaluation (and the self-evaluation) of the whole procedure is performed by the instructor. During this stage he takes into account the effort, the creativity, the participation, the cooperation between the students, the research of sources, the presentation of the assignments and not insomuch the final product or the results of the research.

Stage 5: Assignment/ evaluation sheet
In order for the teacher to find out whether students were satisfied or not by participating in the activity, to check the enrichment of their linguistic expression and especially their vocabulary study, he/she may use free discussion, questionnaires, and review sheets.

Indicative evaluation sheet
Try to find which text genre is given to you. Then, range the following sentences given below in such a way, that a cohesive paragraph is formed by using the proper cohesive words: (as well, still, however, that is, then, while, apart from, thus, in particular) [10]:

 I am in Chania now.
 Dear mum, I am writing to you from Crete.
 We went to Knosos and admired the Minoa’s Palace. It was really superb!
 Ι went to Iraklio. Toula and Grigoris waited for me at the harbor.
 I visited Rethimno and I stayed there two days.
 The old town of Rethimno was very picturesque.
 I had lunch with them. Toula cooked special Crete food, we drank a lot of traditional raki and we danced all night.
 I was very tired.
 It was a great experience.


The child’s ability to use language in oral and written speech effectively is cultivated through various strategies, which students apply when they are called to transmit messages, to state their points of view, to negotiate some points, and to agree or disagree with opinions of others. According to this processing, through the interaction of texts and interactive activities, the conquering of critical literacy of the formation of lectures is revealed and defined.
Only through the comparative study of the authentic texts, that are characterized by linguistic diversity, the texture/structure of the textual communication can become coherent and the improvement of oral and written speech of children may be achieved.


[1Regarding the definition of literacy, see also: Traves, P. (1992). Reading: the entitlement to be ‘properly literate’. In: K. Kimberley, M. Meek & J. Miller (ed.) New Readings: contributions to an understanding of literacy. London: A & C Black,pp. 77-85. Barton, D. & Μ. Hamilton (2000). “Literacy Practices”. In: D. Barton, M.Hamilton & R. Ivanič, (eds.) Situated Literacies. Reading and Writing in Context. London: Routledge. Gee, J. P.(2006). “Literacy and the myth of literacy: from Plato to Freire”. In: A. Charalambopoulos (2006) (ed.) Literacy, Society and Education. Thessaloniki: Manolis Triantafyllidis Foundation, p. 15.

[2Bakhtin, M. (1986). Speek genres and other late essays. Austin: University Texas Press. (It is referenced by Mitsikopoulou, B. (2006). Text and Text type. Downloaded 19/9/2013. from: www.greek_

[3Could be downloaded (e.g.) from the website:

[4Center for Greek Language (2015). Clik in Greek. Level A1. Thessaloniki.

[5Center for Greek Language (2015). Clik in Greek. Level A1. Thessaloniki.

[6Text from the Greek Language book of the A’ grade of junior High School Ο.Ε.D.B. Athens, 2006.

[7Text from the Greek Language book of the A’ grade of junior High School Ο.Ε.D.B. Athens, 2006.

[8Text taken from the Greek Language book of the A’ grade of junior High School, Activity Book Ο.Ε.D.Β. Athens, 2006.

[9Texts from Greek Language book of A’ grade of junior High School, Metaixmio Athens, 2001.

[10The Exercise is based on the text “On Tuesday we went to Knosos”, taken from the book “Communicate in Greek” (eds.) Κ.Arvanitakis and F.Arvanitaki, publ. DELTOS, Athens, 2008, p. 194.

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