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Critical Media Literacy Through Making Media (MMM): A Key to Participation Among Migrant Youth

The project ‘Critical media literacy through making media (MMM) A key to participation among migrant youth’, funded by the Dutch National Research Agenda and coordinated by Koen Leurs and Sanne Sprenger, has now evolved into a second stage in which we research the possibilities of a tailor-made literacy program for young migrants, by teaching the teachers of International Transition Classes to facilitate and coach their own students by themselves.

During the week of April 9 to 13, the consortium member, Ithaka – International Transition Classes in Utrecht – hosted our researchers Ena Omerovic and Hemmo Bruinenberg to implement this literacy program for two groups of 15 to 18-year-old students. In May we plan an evaluation with the participating teachers to reflect on the outcomes of this ‘Media Week’ at Ithaka.

That same week, our team hosted two workshop sessions at the annual teachers day that was facilitated by LOWAN (a national support organization for secondary schools that provide education for young migrants who recently arrived in The Netherlands).

Over 50 teachers joined the 1-hour workshops in which we explained that most existing Dutch media literacy education programs seem to target children and young people as an unspecified homogeneous category. The participating teachers reflected that they could see the students in the pilot where engaged, conscious and enthusiastic while working on the assignments and while discussing the media topics in the classroom. The video showed the possibility to make students think critically and to reflect on media-related topics. The teachers also noted it enables the students a chance to reflect on their Dutch language development as they can listen to their recordings and become more aware of their own pronunciation of Dutch words.

They also mentioned the positive perspective on media in the program, as the approach is more about chances than about risks when using or making media. They are aware of the fact that we can’t do without media anymore – so we may better use it wisely to enable the pleasure of learning. The workshop participants agreed on the fact that this group of young migrants, in particular, need their smartphone even more than other youngsters, as it is their lifeline to loved ones who stayed behind or to family members that are depending on them as Dutch language interpreters. These young people are often very tired in class because during night hours, they have been communicating with loved ones in their home countries. Or they have to leave the classroom to make a phone call to their parents and loved ones – who depend on certain Wi-Fi spots in remote areas – at that exact moment. This personal urgency also enables an interesting entry point to teach and learn and to involve parents in the process of becoming media literate.

The input of the participating teachers strengthens us in our vision on the importance and urgency of making a tailor-made media literacy programs for young migrants. Teachers showed great interest in the outcomes of our research on the possible impact of this media literacy program. In collaboration and co-creation with teachers and students, we will continue to work on a custom made critical media literacy curriculum.