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English Language Arts

Introduction

This document is complementary to the English Language Arts (ELA) program. It neither replaces nor rewrites the current elementary ELA program of study. The focus of the document is on providing more information to teachers about some of the requirements found in the content of the ELA program and their connection to the progressive development of literacy from the beginning to the end of elementary school. Teachers are encouraged to include this document in their planning for teaching. As is the case with the ELA program, this program supplement also plays an important role in determining short- and long-term pedagogical strategies and goals.

The ELA program is first and foremost a literacy program in which speaking, listening, viewing, writing and production of media texts are learned in an integrated fashion. This integration lies at the core of the development of critical literacy. Similarly, the three sections that follow assume a connection between the development of essential knowledge about language and texts, and the language-learning processes that mobilize this knowledge, giving it context, purpose and function.

The first section of the document describes the conventions of written and media language that represent the building blocks on which language as a system is constructed. Students learn how these building blocks work through active engagement with language in situations where they have the opportunity to both enjoy spoken, written and media texts, and create them.

The students’ knowledge about how language conventions influence the ways in which we communicate is learned in action, through the language-learning processes that comprise the second section of the document. These processes are vital insofar as they provide students with essential knowledge that will enable lifelong literacy and learning. Knowledge about the context in which a text is written or produced, the meaning(s)/message(s) it conveys and the audience to whom it is directed provide the foundation for the growth of critical and fluent speakers, listeners, readers, writers and producers. This knowledge is central to the response, writing and production processes described here.

We communicate with one another through the creation of different text types, all of which have explicit and important purposes in shaping our life in society. The third section of the document looks at a number of essential social functions that texts play in the world in the form of required texts, together with the structures and features of these required text types. Students develop their knowledge of how texts work as they interpret, write and produce texts. In this sense, the essential knowledge described in the section on text types, structures and features develops in tandem with the processes students’ use to construct meaning(s) and what they are learning about the conventions of written and media language.

All of the existing content in the ELA program plays a key role in the development of literacy, whether or not it reappears in the program supplement. For example, given the amount of information on the conventions and development of spoken language that is already contained in the ELA program, including it in this document would have resulted in nothing more than repetition. In other words, it is anticipated that teachers will integrate the existing program content with the additional information provided in this document as they plan for teaching.