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English Language Arts

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Language-Learning Processes

Knowledge about the processes used to read, interpret and produce spoken, written and media texts is central to the development of critical literacy. The processes detailed in the following chart are: Reading process, Production process (i.e. integrating writing and media) and Research process. It is anticipated that students will develop these different processes throughout secondary school as they work with increasingly complex purposes, texts and contexts. Any process is by definition nonlinear in its development, as well as context- and text-dependent in its application, making it vital that students work consistently with these language-learning processes throughout each cycle of secondary school.

Student constructs knowledge with teacher guidance.

Student applies knowledge by the end of the school year.


Student reinvests knowledge.


  1. Reading Process: Interpreting Texts
    The student applies the stages of the reading process to interpret a spoken, written, media, multimodal and/or multigenre text.
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  1. Reading profile2
    1. Considers the social function(s) of the text and the context3 in which it was produced, as well as his/her own reading context, to determine appropriate reading stance
    1. Adjusts reading stance(s) and strategies to determine possible meaning(s) or message(s) in spoken, written, media, multimodal and multigenre texts
    1. Uses cues conveyed by the structure, features, codes and conventions of spoken, written and media genres to determine significance in a text while listening/reading/viewing (e.g. recognizes the conventions of television news that are associated with credibility; recognizes the structural devices used in an editorial that strengthen an argument)
    1. Draws on needed background knowledge and experiences related to the social and/or cultural and/or historical context in which the text was produced in order to read critically (e.g. consults other texts written at the same time)
    1. Produces a coherent first reading/initial response to a text. See below for what constitutes a first reading/initial response to a text.
  1. First reading/initial response4
    1. Extends/supports/scaffolds first reading/initial response by examining details in the text (e.g. draws on own reading profile; uses information gained through rereading, immersion into texts and exchanges with other readers and teacher)
    1. Keeps track of changes in own first reading/initial response as s/he works toward a more considered interpretation of the text (e.g. makes notes, highlights significant sections of text, begins a tentative outline)
    1. Demonstrates understanding of the difference between familiar open and closed written narrative5 texts by identifying:
      1. Known characteristics of a closed narrative text (e.g. the formulaic pattern in a heroic myth or in a serialized spy thriller such as James Bond)
      1. Known characteristics of an open narrative text (e.g. figurative language in a short story or symbolism in a poem)
    1. Demonstrates understanding of how information is interpreted and communicated in different information-based (spoken, written, media) genres:
      1. Draws inferences about the view of the world presented in the text despite its apparent objectivity (e.g. in a research report that presents only one side of the greenhouse effect)
      1. Draws generalizations and conclusions based on evidence in the text (e.g. synthesizes key ideas and information)
      1. Locates evidence in the text of how the writer/producer creates a relationship between the text and its reader (e.g. identifies aspects that appeal more to women than to men in a magazine ad)
      1. Identifies characteristics of writer/producer and how this influences the purpose of the text, its meaning(s)/message(s) and other aspects of the context in which it is produced and read (e.g. inherent values and how these are represented; influence of a social/cultural/historical context on their sensibility and/or central argument)
      1. Connects significant facts/information in relation to main idea(s), hypothesis, thesis statement or stance conveyed by writer/producer (i.e. means through which writer/producer interprets information or uses argument or persuasion to move the reader)
      1. Analyzes implications and/or impact and/or influence of stereotyping or cliché, false representation, gender bias and/or power relations within a text on the meaning(s)/message(s) communicated
      1. Identifies dominant discourses and how they shape the writer’s/producer’s intended meanings/messages (i.e. recognizes whose voices are heard and whose voices are ignored or marginalized in a given text)
  1. Interpretation of the text6
    1. Interrelates aspects of his/her reading profile, the structure, features and content of the text, and its social/cultural/historical context
    1. Determines own working hypothesis, theory, controlling idea, or thesis statement
    1. Organizes elements of own interpretation in order to achieve coherence and communicate clearly
    1. Selects a mode and genre that conveys own interpretation to advantage in light of situation/context7 (e.g. interprets the conflict faced by a central character through a journal that includes illustrations and print)
    1. Selects relevant evidence to illustrate and justify own interpretation:
      1. Cites evidence from the text to substantiate own ideas, statements, questions and opinions
      1. Compares/contrasts with other texts that treat the same issue/topic/theme/event
      1. Analyzes dominant features of the text, such as its point of view, use of persuasive language, connotation and denotation, etc.
      1. Explains how real and imaginary are represented by the writer/producer and to what effect
      1. Explains how fact and opinion are represented by the writer/producer and to what effect
      1. Analyzes how the text attempts to attract and hold the reader’s attention (e.g. how continuity is established in an argument; how humour, sound or music is employed to special effect in film; how structural irony or vivid details are used to create suspense in a narrative)
      1. Establishes interrelationships between the structure and features of the genre, the context in which the text is produced, and the impact of the text on self as reader (e.g. the use of dramatic irony in Romeo and Juliet allows Shakespeare to heighten the tragedy of their suicides, while reminding today’s reader that in the 16th century, star-crossed lovers had very few choices as to how their situation might be resolved)
      1. Compares/contrasts own ideas, values and beliefs with those presented by writer/producer (e.g. notions of beauty promoted in a teen magazine; portrayal of the American South in novels written between 1920 and 1945)
      1. Analyzes how readers are positioned or situated by the text and how this can alter an interpretation (e.g. considers how “generation gap” stereotypes might affect different readers)
    1. Draws coherent conclusions by making inferences and generalizations
    1. Uses vocabulary and terminology that apply to a specific topic and/or genre (e.g. scientific terms in a feature article; literary terms proper to an Elizabethan sonnet)
  1. Production Process8
    The student applies the stages of the production process to produce spoken, written, media, multigenre and multimodal texts in a given context or situation.
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  1. Preproduction
    1. Examines model texts to guide production decisions, specifically:
      1. Unique structure(s), features, codes and conventions of a specific text type. See also the Required Genres section of this document for specific structures, features, codes and conventions.
      1. Purpose and context in which the text was produced that influence features such as its style, rhetorical devices, textual conventions and content (e.g. an advertisement for sports equipment in a popular sports magazine; an airline safety pamphlet; a film review on a newspaper Web site)
      1. How characteristics of the intended/target audience are represented such as their needs, expectations, age group, social status, etc.
      1. How the meaning/message is represented and communicated
      1. Level of formality of the discourse (i.e. its register)
      1. Aspects of the writer’s/producer’s stance and how these influence readers (e.g. intent, ideology, values, beliefs)
    1. Plans and drafts the text:
      1. (Media only) Uses collaborative strategies as part of a production team (e.g. adopts different roles, shares expertise, sets and meets deadlines, accepts different points of view, reaches consensus)
      1. Selects a text in light of context, including purpose, meaning(s)/message(s) and intended/target audience
      1. Determines criteria to judge the quality of the text in light of the production context, including purpose and intended/target audience
      1. Characterizes needs and expectations of intended/target audience to make some decisions regarding content:
        • Familiar audience (e.g. provides additional details or information; sequences events or information to enhance reader’s comprehension)
        • Distant but known audience, conceptually appropriate for an adolescent (e.g. considers audience knowledge and/or preconceived notions of topic)
      1. Uses a range of stances derived from:
        • Personal experience(s) and knowledge
        • Distance between self as writer/producer, topic, purpose and intended/target audience
      1. Uses appropriate organizational devices in light of text, purpose, intended/target audience, meaning(s)/message(s) and context (e.g. outline, storyboard)
      1. Researches to locate material, resources and/or expertise
      1. Manages resources (e.g. makes appointments to administer surveys or conduct an interview; books AV equipment in advance)
      1. Looks into issues of ownership, property and privacy common to the media industry (e.g. checks that copyright and/or legal permission can be obtained; reviews relevant intellectual property laws)
  1. Production
    1. Uses relevant technology resources throughout the production process (e.g. uses a still or video camera in a Public Service Announcement (PSA); downloads digital images for a multimedia project)
    1. Uses structures, features, codes and conventions of a specific text to communicate clearly and enhance meaning(s)/message(s)
    1. Uses knowledge about spoken and/or written and/or media modes and genres to make production decisions that enhance the impact of the text on its intended/target audience (e.g. decides to place a dramatic photograph with a feature news story to move the audience)
    1. Uses rhetorical strategies and different registers in context (e.g. uses an active voice to project a sense of immediacy)
    1. Respects constraints of the media industry (e.g. length, ideology, copyright, layout)
  1. Postproduction9
    1. Evaluates draft/version critically, and makes relevant adjustments to enhance:
      1. Clarity and development of ideas, meaning(s)/message(s)
      1. Internal organization of the content (e.g. changes order of images in a photo essay)
      1. Precision in the use of details and/or information
      1. Coherence in light of the production context, purpose, intended/target audience and production criteria
      1. Accuracy in the use of structure, features, codes and conventions of the text, including respect for media constraints (i.e. applies text grammars correctly)
      1. Effectiveness of technology used (e.g. rerecording narration to fill in gaps and/or for audibility in a radio spot; slowing down transitions between images in a digital photo essay so the reader can process them)
      1. Use of stylistic conventions for specific effect (e.g. sound effects to create mood; use of exaggerated gory details in a crime scene description)
    1. Proofreads draft/version for:
      1. Surface errors in written language (i.e. spelling and usage conventions, grammar and syntax)
      1. Clarity regarding the layout and presentation of the final draft/version of the text (e.g. arranges the placement of charts, diagrams or images)
      1. Continuity (e.g. ensures coherent visual style in a comic re: colour, character depiction; checks that formatting is consistent in a written text)
    1. Prepares for presentation:
      1. Selects the most effective way to present the text to intended/target audience
      1. Uses the appropriate codes and conventions to present the text (e.g. uses a formal register when presenting a poster to the class)
      1. Manages resources in a presentation (e.g. checks that software is compatible, CDs are cued up)
      1. Transforms the information from one mode or medium to another (e.g. prepares a slideshow that synthesizes the data from an action research project)
    1. Self-evaluates production process:
      1. Makes effective use of specific feedback throughout all stages of the production process, including rehearsal/dry run
      1. Uses teacher- peer- and self-evaluation as a resource to consolidate and reinvest new knowledge, understanding and information (e.g. records peer responses in own Integrated Profile for reference in subsequent production tasks)
      1. Uses a metalanguage10 to explain production decisions (e.g. explains the symbolism of the colour red and the mood that patriotic music creates in a book trailer about war)
  1. Reseach Process
    The student demonstrates control over all required aspects of the research process11 to produce spoken, written, media, multigenre and multimodal texts in a given context or situation.      
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  1. Inquiry process
    1. Uses problem solving to interpret data and information critically
    1. Uses action research to effect social change
    1. Uses ethnography to study a social world relevant to an adolescent
  1. Research strategies
    1. Distinguishes between primary and secondary sources, both print and non-print
    1. Narrows topic/subject in order to focus research (e.g. lists pros/cons, creates sub-questions)
    1. Selects a research protocol depending on purpose, context and inquiry process chosen (i.e. quantitative or qualitative method)
    1. Develops a system to keep track of data/information as s/he researches (e.g. notebook, bibliographic references)
    1. Uses a number of research tools to gather data/information:
      1. Primary sources (e.g. artefacts, interviews, autobiography, journals/diaries)
      1. Secondary sources (e.g. reference texts, newspaper articles, books)
      1. Own data collection instruments (e.g. interviews, surveys, questionnaires)
    1. Interprets data/findings:
      1. Categorizes data/information (e.g. collates results of surveys; looks for patterns in data; identifies common themes in interviews)
      1. Makes generalizations (e.g. determines statistical significance; chooses relevant evidence to support thesis; summarizes or gives a précis to highlight key points)
      1. Adopts a stance that promotes the smooth development of a hypothesis, thesis statement or controlling idea in own research
1.  The blue bar signifies that students require the guidance of their teacher to reinvest the knowledge gained by the end of a certain grade level in progressively more demanding contexts, with increasingly more challenging material, to ensure that their understanding deepens over time.
2.  The student’s reading profile includes texts s/he has read, reading strategies, reading stance and other resources, such as personal knowledge. See SELA, pp. 113-114 and SELA2, pp. 41-42.
3.  The context for reading, as described in the SELA and SELA2 programs, includes both the purpose for reading and the social and/or cultural and/or historical and/or literary context in which a given text is produced.
4.  See SELA, p. 115 and SELA2, pp. 39-40, 43-45.
5.  See SELA2, p. 57.
6.  Despite the linear appearance of this list, the process of constructing an interpretation is in fact selective and recursive, depending on the text that is being interpreted and the context in which the student is working.
7.  See SELA2 pp. 1-2, 22-23 for more information about affordances.
8.  The SELA program includes separate Writing and Media competencies that are integrated into a single Production competency in SELA2.
9.  The postproduction processes of revision and media editing involve working with an existing text (e.g. a written draft or raw footage). In both cases, attention is paid to revising/editing in light of elements such as order, coherence and continuity, and effective use of codes and conventions.
10.  A metalanguage is a shared language used to describe or analyze some aspect of spoken, written or media language.
11.  See SELA, Inquiry Process, Problem Solving, and Action Research, pp. 97-98; and, SELA2, Strategies for Collecting Data, pg. 23, pp. 25-26 for more information on action research and inquiry process; as well as p. 29 for ethnography.

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