EDC 534 Analysis of: "A Pedagogy of Powerful Communication" written by Jillian Belanger Analysis Completed by Lynn Adams

This article reviewed the book: A Pedagogy of Powerful Communication: Youth Radio and Radio Arts in the Multilingual Classroom by Dana Walker. It demonstrated how Walker "takes an additive approach to teaching English Learners, leveraging and building on their native languages whenever possible, and including as a priority, in addition to language development, development of self and communication with others" (Belanger, 2016, p. 96).

This book describes a collaborative venture during the course of a year in which teachers and mentors "guide an ESL Study Skills and Academic Support class of 16-18 students in grades 9-11 through the process of learning about and producing youth commentary for community radio" (p. 96) and in doing so, chronicles and analyzes "changing, growing attitudes, identities and abilities of the participating students" (p. 96).

When EL students engage with the community, "we see students' attitudes and self images are positively shaped when bilingual experts from the community are treated as sources of legitimate knowledge" (p. 96).

The Youth Radio project discussed in Walker's book, "provided a 'thinking space' for reflecting on and representing the young people's questioning and theorizing, for speaking up and acting out against...'the culture of silence'" (Walker as cited by Belanger, p. 97). Students commented on how their own sense of social responsibility developed through the yearlong project and how having the right to speak out supported the development of their own self confidence (Belanger).

The visiting teachers and mentors used in the project did much to influence the success of the students. "They are probably a major variable in the success of the students' development...encouraging students to use their bodies to internalize the concepts presented" (p. 97). Thus demonstrating the importance of positive mentoring practices.

Through this group of students' interaction with the mentors is demonstrated how "interpersonal details" and "educating the whole child" are important practices for anyone in such a role. (p. 97).

Walker's yearlong project "to engage ELs in meaningful, authentic work that provides 'opportunities to develop expressive language' which can 'come rarely for students who have to take ESL classes instead of electives' in high school" (Walker as cited by Belanger, p. 98) highlights the importance of not only teaching language acquisition but doing so in a way that honors where they come from and boosts their confidence and ability to engage successfully with media (2016).

The most important ideas from this book as it was reviewed are that in doing similar media projects with EL students, teachers and mentors have the potential to "reap the benefits of community engagement and media production on the way to language and confidence development" (p. 98). I feel this is such an important step towards decreasing the marginalization of the EL student population.

Belanger, J. (2016). Review of: A pedagogy of powerful communication: Youth radio and radio arts in the multilingual classroom. Journal of Media Literacy Education 7(3), 96 - 99.


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