31 SES 12 B, Literacy and Writing In and Outside School
This paper addresses the issue of increasing diversity which has arisen through continuous migration and now reflects a reality in European classrooms. In particular it addresses one important aspect of diversity, the question of how to deal with and facilitate multilingualism. On the one hand multilingualism has been pronounced as an education goal (by the European Union [European Commission 2008] but also by national policies [BMBF 2012]) as a means to effectively communicate in a globalized and diverse society. On the other hand it brings along challenges for educational achievement as exposed by various studies (e.g. the PISA studies), in the sense that migrant students with a family language other than the majority language fail short in educational success (Stanat et al. 2010). It is common sense that in order to successfully pass the education system students have to have a solid command of the majority language. However positions differ on whether to value and facilitate heritage languages (Esser 2006; Gogolin & Neumann 2009). There is ample scientific evidence that facilitating heritage languages does not impede the development of the school language, as well as for cognitive benefits of bilingualism so that the development of heritage languages should be supported. (Poarch & Bialystock 2017). This perspective is shared by the author. This paper will explore conditions of successful bilingualism by looking at cases of primary school children that have managed to become successful bilinguals. A focus will be on a literacy skill, the skill to write, as a general prerequisite to education success. Object of study are children that have writing skills in both languages in a migration context. This ability constitutes a high level of bilingualism since it goes beyond oral competence and includes the command of the script in both languages.
Research on literacy shows that literacy outcomes are positively associated with home (and school) language and literacy learning opportunities (August and Shanhan 2006). This relation has been proven for different literacy skills such as reading and writing (Schneider 2017) – mainly for monolingual children. There has also been substantial research on the development of literacy in second language learners (August and Shanahan 2006). However, there has been less research on the development of literacy in the majority and the heritage language.
Research on bilingual development suggests that “successful bilingualism” requires sufficient exposure to both languages, sufficient variation across situations of language use, and sufficient and academic quality” (Leseman 2017). Literacy activities count as qualitative input. To link this to literacy development in both languages it can be suggested that ideally [bilingual] children experience literacy activities in both languages (Nickel 2011). This paper aims to identify, based on the observation of a small group of bilinguals, which literacy experiences children have made who have writing skills in the majority and heritage language. Those cases have been called “competent bilinguals” in a classification by Esser (2006). They will be contrasted with the literacy experiences of monolingual assimilated (Esser 2006) – children that have writing competencies in the majority language but not in the heritage language. The research questions are: What kind of literacy experiences do competent bilinguals have? And how do they differ from those of monolingual assimilated? A special focus will be on the literacy experiences in the heritage language.
The study applies a qualitative approach. Objects of study are multilingual primary school children living in Hamburg (Germany) with a Turkish, Russian and Vietnamese background of the second generation (i.e. all children were born in Germany, at least one of their parents was born in another country). All children have been raised in multilingual families, i.e. in families in which the heritage language was spoken – although to very different degrees. At the end of primary school, the written competencies in the majority and heritage language have been tested with a standardized test to evaluate written narrative competences (Gantefort and Roth 2008). Moreover intensive qualitative interviews have been conducted with the parents about the language biography, language experiences and language attitudes of the children and parents. From each language group those cases were selected which show high results in the written test for both languages (competent bilinguals, 7 cases). Also those cases were selected which show high results in the written test in German but low results in the heritage language (monolingual assimilated, 5 cases). Through qualitative content analyses of the interviews it will be identified which experiences the competent bilinguals and the monolingual assimilated have made with reading and writing in both languages. Particularly interesting is the experience the children have made with reading and writing in the heritage language. In a second step the experiences will be compared and contrasted. The aim is to determine in which way the learning experiences of the competent bilinguals differ from those of the monolingual assimilated and which experiences have been missing determining the non-development of writing skills in the heritage language.
The results show that literacy experiences in the majority language of the competent bilinguals and the monolingual assimilated are rather similar. They comprise of inter alia: book reading, assisting with schoolwork of those parents who have sufficient command of the majority language, if both parents are not able to assist, other people from the network help out, imposing tasks to improve competencies in German by parents, general reading and writing tasks imposed by parents (occurring in the Russian and Vietnamese families) and writing activities of children such as writing letters and short stories. The groups differ in the degree of literacy experiences in the heritage language. Whereas the monolingual assimilated have either no literacy experiences in the heritage language at all or experience in the early years only such as parents reading books to them in the heritage language, the competent bilinguals experience literacy activities in the heritage language more thoroughly and continuously. Literacy activities in the heritage language of competent bilinguals comprise of: independent book reading and book reading by parents, children asking about unknown words and parents explaining them, teaching of reading and writing by heritage language lessons, reading and writing tasks imposed as homework, teaching of the alphabet at home by parents, general reading and writing tasks imposed by parents, looking at websites on the internet and writing E-mails by the use of the German keypad (without using the proper signs, occurring in the Vietnamese families). The results show a range of learning experiences contributing to writing in the majority and heritage language and thus to competent bilingualism. This is relevant for educators and parents in order to create those learning opportunities to facilitate writing in both languages.
August, D. & Shanahan, T. (eds) (2006). Developing Literacy in Second-Language Learners: Report of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth. New Jersey: Erlbaum. BMBF - Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (2012). Bekanntmachung der Richtlinie zur Förderung von Forschung im Bereich "Sprachliche Bildung und Mehsprachigkeit". https://www.bmbf.de/foerderungen/bekanntmachung-774.html. Retrieved on 12.07.2017. European Commission (2008): Multilingualism - an asset and a commitment. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=LEGISSUM:ef0003&from=DE . Retrieved on 30.01.2018 Esser, H. (2006). Migration, Sprache und Integration. AKI-Forschungsbilanz 4. Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB). http://www.bagkjs.de/media/raw/AKI_Forschungsbilanz_4_Sprache.pdf . Retrieved on 14.08.2017 Gantefort, C. & Roth, H.-J. (2008). Ein Sturz und seine Folgen. In: T. Klinger, K. Schwippert & B. Leiblein (Hrsg.): Evaluation im Modellprogramm FörMig. ( = FörMig Edition Band 4.) Münster: Waxmann, S. 29-50. Gogolin, I. & Neumann, U.(Hrsg.) (2009). Streitfall Zweisprachigkeit - The Bilingualism Controversy. Wiesbaden: Springer VS Nickel, S. (2011). Literalität - Familie - family literacy : die Transmission schriftkultureller Praxis und generationenübergreifende Bildungsprogramme als Schlüsselstrategie. Psychologie und Gesellschaftskritik, 35, 3, S. 53-77. Poarch, G.J. & Bialystock, E. (2017). Assessing the implications of migrant multilingualism for language education. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 20, S. 175-191. Leseman, P. (2017). Keynote presentation on “Supporting multilingual development in the family and (pre)school - How to get the best of both worlds in inclusive societies”. Final conference of the research cluster “Multilingualism and Language Education”. University of Hamburg, Germany. Schneider, W. (2017). Lesen und Schreiben lernen, Kritisch hinterfragt. Springer-Verlag GmbH Deutschland. Stanat, P., Rauch, D. & Segeritz, M. (2010). Schülerinnen und Schüler mit Migrationshintergrund. In E. Klieme, C. Artelt, J. Hartig, N. Jude, O. Köller, M. Prenzel, W. Schneider, P. Stanat, Petra (Hrsg.), PISA 2009. Bilanz nach einem Jahrzehnt. (S. 200-230). Münster: Waxmann.
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