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Reconceptualizing Critical Literacy Teaching in ESL Classrooms


  • Sunny Man Chu Lau


An instructional focus on critical literacy (CL) encourages students to become active readers and writers of cultural texts so that they can create their own meanings in order to shape and transform their social conditions (Lankshear & McLaren, 1993; Shor, 1992). It is, however, seldom pursued with English learners (ELs) because teachers assume that students’ limitations in English will preclude academic engagement with complex social and moral issues. The participatory action research described in this article challenges this assumption (Lau, 2010). Working with an ESL teacher in the Greater Toronto Area, I documented the progress of Grades 7 and 8 ELs engaged in CL work despite their limited English proficiency