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Multiliteracy encompasses a new modern approach to literacy. The traditional definition of literacy has been widened to include the understanding of all types of visual and printed texts as well as textual connections including audio, spatial and gestural. Being able to read and write is no longer sufficient in today's technology-dominated world, so a major part of multiliteracy involves being proficient in new technologies which requires decoding skills as much as reading skills. Globalization has also engendered the necessity for cultural and linguistic diversity.
There are multiple literacies which are included under the term "multiliteracy." The introduction of learning a foreign language in schools was the beginning of the more familiar language multiliteracy. To be able to communicate in more than one language today is vital for those who wish to work, compete and succeed in the corporate world, but knowledge of language alone is no longer sufficient either. There also needs to be an understanding of differences in culture in order to be effective in a globalized world. Cultural literacy necessitates the appreciation of and interaction with other cultures.
Critical literacy involves the ability to obtain information from a variety of sources. This may be through digital or technological literacy which is the ability to obtain information online. The processing of information to extract meaning from print, sound, image and movement sources of information requires recognition, reproduction and reflection. While younger generations may be completely at home with this kind of information processing, it can be an issue for those unfamiliar with or untrained in modern technology.
To be media literate means to be aware of the impact different mediums have on psychology and decision making. Other types of multiliteracy include artistic or visual and musical. Many feel that the learning of multiliteracies should be incorporated into every school curriculum in order to sufficiently prepare students for the modern world.
The skill set required of graduates has changed and so the education system should change accordingly. The need to learn basic language and literacy has not changed but now the language has become metalanguage and literacy has transformed to multiliteracy. Concerns have been raised that the educational system is ill-prepared to deal with a more virtual approach towards the constantly changing technology in which many students are more comfortable than the teachers. Conversely, there is concern that students in less privileged circumstances who are already disadvantaged in the learning of traditional literacy skills are even less likely to have access to an educational system which teaches multiliteracy.