Desire manifested by young students’ multimodal text production

Submitted by: Anna Lyngfelt
Abstract: The aim is to discuss text production by multilingual students in L1 classrooms as a manifestation of literacy, revealing the text producers’ cause to act: their desire. Literacy is understood as a reading and writing competence, that is possible to explain by Spinoza’s idea of ‘striving’; the aim is to explain the ‘striving’ behind what Heath (1983) once stated as ‘literacy events’. Also, it aims at bridging the gap between individually oriented, cognitive research and literacy research developed by Barton (1994), stressing literacy as social practice. The methods used, are multimodal text analysis (Bearne, 2009) and individual interviews with the students about their intentions with their writing. Comparisons are made between what the students intended to do, and the result of their text production (regarded to be manifested ‘desires’); by analysis of a written assignment, and interviews with the students, the students’ text production is investigated. Data was collected within the DILS project, involving three classes in early primary school in Sweden, with pupils aged 7-9. The focus here, is on the work in one of the schools, in which the students not necessarily choose the majority language for communication.

Altogether, the students’ text production demonstrates a variety of desire; it could be characterized as immanent manifestation of cognitive development as well as social positioning. Four examples of text production get special attention. Two of them demonstrate a discrepancy between the students’ desire to express themselves, and their texts from a communicative perspective. That one of the students is inclined to manifest himself as a text producer, without communicative intensions, is focused; his intention is to understand something on his own, not primarily to communicate with others.


Barton, D. (2007). Literacy. An Introduction to the Ecology or Written Language. MA: Blackwell.

Bearne, E. (2009). Multimodality, literacy and texts: Developing a discourse. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 9 (2), 156-187.

Heath, S. B. (1983). Ways with Words: Language, Life, and Work in Communities and Classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Spinoza, B. (1983). Etik. Göteborg: Daidalos.