Situated Literacies at Work
In this chapter socio-cultural models of language in use are drawn upon in order to examine a single proposition, namely, if communicative competence were a generic skill, then it would be the same within different contexts and situations. Data about work practices related to the front offices of three motels and two eco-tourism sites were gathered using observations and interviews. Socio-cultural theories, the roles of the reader, genre theory, and discourse theory were used to analyze the data. The results suggest that actual workplace practices involved socially constructed literacies, which depended on the user's ability to make judgements on how to use the text or obtain information from within the text for site specific purposes. Furthermore, use of oral language varied with the context and participants. Successful communication seems to depend on the ability of staff to make inferences based on knowledge available to them within the social context of the specific worksite. As a result, the current focus on teaching generic skills is inadequate since these de-contextualized skills are of limited utility.
International Journal of Educational Research