31 SES 15 A, Cross-national and International erspectives on Migrant Family-Language Practices and Literacy Investment
This paper reports on progress from an EERA-funded Network Grant (Network 31) at a European level across the EERA Network, which compares and contrasts policy contexts and ongoing research around multilingualism and literacy across four nations, specifically Germany, England, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Children with ethnic minority background and low socio-economic status are more likely to have poor literacy skills and poorer academic outcomes (Farver et al., 2013). It is therefore essential to develop their preliteracy skills early because they are strong predictors of both their literacy development (e.g. Skibbe et al., 2011) and general educational attainment (Bialystok, 2013; Gogolin, 2014). Being biliterate has also been found to be a good predictor of successful additional language learning (Sanz, 2000).
In multilingual contexts, students develop (multi)literacy skills in complex, ever changing contexts and through rich and heterogeneous experiences (Hammer et al., 2014). However, the linguistic resources of students with migrant background and lower socioeconomic status are often neglected throughout their school years, even though the languages in their repertoires provide valuable and mutually enriching resources. For example, bilinguals may strategically apply the acquired literacy skills in one language to write in another (Cenoz & Gorter, 2011). The omission to draw on the entire repertoire of multilinguals leads to inequality, which results in lower literacy outcomes and in discrepancies in competences in the various languages of bilinguals (Dworin, 2003).
The quality of the home environment and institutions (e.g. early childhood and care) influences children’s language and literacy outcomes and predicts school success (NICHHD, 1998). Books remain the most favoured resource of multilingual families to engage children in literacy activities both in societal and the heritage languages, especially in the early years and early stages of education (Little, 2019). Studies in the field of home literacies have shown that parents, grandparents and children who engaged in book reading and in related activities such as telling and retelling stories, drew on their cultural funds of knowledge, made connections between the knowledge and skills gained in different learning contexts (e.g. home, school, community school), and blended the diverse literacy practices (Gregory, 2001). Engaging children in multilingual literacies does not only further their development of cognitive skills related to language and literacy but it also contributes to identity development. Projects where teachers and parents engage together with children in multilingual literacy activities, including multimodal digital ones, have shown that children are more motivated, engage deeper in their own learning and develop cognitive, language, and social skills, that teachers can work in more culturally and linguistically and inclusive way, and that parents feel more included in the school (Kirsch, 2018).
The project is driving European research through the analysis of existing data on family literacy practices in multilingual families across the four partner nations, exploring national perspectives to facilitate a systematic overview of these family literacy practices from birth to secondary education, whilst contrasting these against the respective policy contexts.
The project is ongoing, however, early conclusions point to ongoing issues regarding the definition of terminology, and the absence of it in policy contexts, specifically multiliteracies. For each national context, we present a policy overview, as well as a small number of key projects aiming to drive multiliteracy development - these have various methodologies. We critically explore enablers and barriers from policy, research, and practice.
Bialystok, E. (2013). The Impact of Bilingualism on Language and Literacy Development. In T. K. Bhatia & W. C. Ritchie (Eds.), The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism (pp. 624-648). Malden, Oxford, and Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2011). Focus on Multilingualism: A Study of Trilingual Writing. The Modern Language Journal, 95(3), 356-369. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4781.2011.01206.x Dworin, J. E. (2003). Insights Into Biliteracy Development: Toward a Bidirectional Theory of Bilingual Pedagogy. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 2(2), 171-186. doi:10.1177/1538192702250621 Farver, J. A., Xu, Y., Lonigan, C. J., & Eppe, S. (2013). The home literacy environment and Latino head start children’s emergent literacy skills. Developmental Psychology, 49(4), 775–791. doi: 10.1037/a0028766 Gogolin, I. (2014). Stichwort: Entwicklung sprachlicher Fähigkeiten von Kindern und Jugendlichen im Bildungskontext. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 17, 407-431. Gregory, E. (2001). Sisters and Brothers as Language and Literacy Teachers: Synergy between Siblings Playing and Working Together. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 1(3), 301–322. doi: 10.1177/14687984010013004 Hammer, C. S., Hoff, E., Uchikoshi, Y., Gillanders, C., Castro, D., & Sandilos, L. E. (2014). The Language and Literacy Development of Young Dual Language Learners: A Critical Review. Early Child Res Q, 29(4), 715-733. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2014.05.008 Kirsch, C. (2018). Promoting multilingualism and multiliteracies through storytelling: a case-study on the use of the app iTEO in preschools in Luxembourg. Language and Education 32(5),444-461.doi: 1080/09500782.2018.1487452 Little, S. (2019) '"Is there an app for that?" Exploring games and apps among heritage language families'. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 40:3, 218-229. National Institute on Child Health and Human Development. (NICHHD) (1998). Relations between family predictors and child outcomes. Developmental psychology, 34(5), 1119-1128. Sanz, C. (2000). Bilingual education enhances third language acquisition: Evidence from Catalonia. Applied Psycholinguistics 21, 23-44. Skibbe, L. E., Connor, C. M., Morrison, F. J., & Jewkes, A. M. (2011). Schooling effects on preschoolers’ self-regulation, early literacy, and language growth. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26(1), 42-49. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2010.05.001
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