Literacy (and fluency) in a major lingua franca such as English has been seen as a key to social, cultural and economic success in a global world. However, children of the 21st century live in a context of growing diversity where the lack of bi/multilingual abilities may put them at a disadvantage in a world that is primarily multilingual. Yet, in immigration contexts, the bi/multilingual repertoires of migrant families tend to be devalued and, due to the often sole emphasis of the education system (and settlement strategy as in New Zealand) on English (ESOL) education, a shift towards monolingual practices occurs. Under these conditions, retaining a minority language presents a particular challenge in relation to writing. The home is often the only place where this language might be used, and parents act as the child’s first and sometimes only teacher of that language. The family context may thus offer a way to address the lack of affordances for biliteracy in the educational or wider societal context. This paper reports on a small-scale project aimed to promote biliteracy in the migrant family context, where opportunities to foster biliteracy practices are woven into everyday family life. This paper illustrates how parent-child interactions and collaborative dialogue can help facilitate biliterate practices. It describes benefits for families and discusses how development of multiple literacies is enhanced through parental involvement.
Senior Lecturer, Department of Communication and Journalism, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Senior Lecturer, School of European Languages, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
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