Before the formal presentation, participants could visit a wide range of enticing displays and demonstrations, all showcasing new and exciting research projects by various SFU graduate students. The much anticipated project, Ecologies of multilingual and multimodal story production (SSHRC Insight Grant 2018 – 2021; Principal investigator: Dr. Diane Dagenais, Co-investigator: Dr. Geneviève Brisson), was presented by research assistants, Magali Forte and Gwénaëlle André, both PhD students in the Languages, Cultures and Literacies doctoral program in the Faculty of Education. In speaking with the two emerging researchers and by interacting with the display, I learned that Scribjab is a multilingual and multimodal website and application for language learners, created in 2014 by research and design teams (including Drs. Diane Dagenais & Kelleen Toohey) at SFU working in collaboration. This original website and free iPad app enables learners to read stories created by others, as well as build their own one-of-a-kind imaginative, bilingual tales in French or English plus another language. The creative process involves writing, drawing, and recording their own voices. Through observations of Scribjab in use, the purpose of the study is to gain an informed perspective on the environments (homes, libraries, and classrooms) that support multilingual and multimodal literacies through detailed analysis of encounters between digital tools and school-aged language learners.
Displayed at the booth about this project were posters addressing how Scribjab challenges two popular myths concerning multilingual learners and digital technologies. The first claims that multilinguals are less competent than monolinguals in their literacy practices, while in fact the research shows that “multilinguals have access to a wide range of resources (including but not limited to languages, accents, registers, genres, gestures, etc.) as they engage in literacy practices”. Moreover, research shows that maintaining family languages and using multiple languages and forms of expression supports learning school languages and literacy practices. With this in mind, Magali Forte wishes to understand how multilingual identities are constructed in human and digital relations. Magali wonders, “What impact does story creation with Scribjab have on school-aged children’s sense of identity and literacy practices? Is it constraining or liberating?”