Identity, Agency, and Adult Literacy in an Unequal Digital World

4.4. kl 8.00-9.00 CET
Professor Bonny Norton, The University of British Columbia

Foto: Pexels Foto: Pexels


The world has changed since I published my early work on identity, investment, and language learning in the mid 1990s. Because of advancements in digital technology, there are new relations of power at micro and macro levels, and digital literacy has become essential in “claiming the right to speak". 

As adult language learners navigate these changing times, they need to negotiate new identities, investments, and imagined futures (Norton, 2013). Working with Ron Darvin, I have responded to new linguistic landscapes by developing an expanded model of investment that integrates identity, ideology, and linguistic capital in a comprehensive framework (Darvin & Norton, 2015).

In this presentation, I will argue that while there are structures that may limit an adult language learner’s investment, the model seeks to illustrate how adult learners can draw on language and literacy practices that enhance possibility.

Drawing on my recent research on digital storybooks in both wealthy and poorly resourced global communities, I will discuss the ways in which digital storybooks can harness the linguistic capital of both children and adult learners in homes, schools, and communities in the interests of a more equitable multilingual future (Stranger-Johannessen & Norton, 2017).