Constructions of Strategies Toward Success in English Literacy in Children by Dual-Language Families: A Qualitative Research Proposal

By Genevieve Tran and Julian Scott Yeomans.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Immigrants and migrant workers from non-English speaking countries are frequently faced with the need to enrol their children in regular English-speaking school systems. The educational consequences of the English literacy acquisition of these dual-language children are of interest from a learning perspective. Among other skills taught in school, the children from these homes employ certain strategies within their sphere of knowledge to excel (or not) at English literacy. This demographic has formed the basis for many studies in literacy acquisition.
One of the authors is an experienced teacher of bilingual or dual-language students using an English curriculum in Japan (with English being one of the languages that they speak). Based upon experience, it has been observed that many of these students exceed the literacy levels of their monolingual peers. However, it has also been observed there is a significant subset of these students that flounders significantly in their studies. As a group, these students are frequently bi-racial with the majority having a native Japanese mother and a father from an English-speaking country. Having fluent role models in both languages, these students speak both languages interchangeably at home. Knowing that this represents a large category of the demographic of these students—and analogous demographics of multilingualism exist in many English-literacy-learning communities throughout the world--it would be beneficial to explore what influences this sphere of knowledge that some dual-language students have developed, so that successful learning strategies can be determined and consciously applied to those students who need them the most. Hence, this study is designed to construct the framework of a qualitative research proposal to determine successful strategies for the acquisition of English literacy by children in dual-language families. The framework will be used to ascertain exactly which factors influence the English literacy acquisition skills of children from families in which one parent is a native speaker of English but the other parent is not. The framework should specifically identify the key factors of English literacy in dual-language children above and beyond the regular issues of literacy acquisition?
This study will provide the first step in directing attention to the case of households that are trying to cultivate two languages concurrently, whether or not this promotion of dual literacy is done consciously. It is important to study this segment of children to better cater to their success in English literacy, as the number of such households constitutes a growing segment of society. However, the literacy issues and known intervention methods are still largely generic. Furthermore, families participating in the study may provide insight into their regular literacy issues in addition to being dual-language (for instance, not having enough time to read with children or the children watch too much TV and not reading books), so it may prove difficult to isolate the factors that truly derive from the children growing up in dual-language homes.
Consequently, this paper constructs an appropriate qualitative research framework to determine successful strategies of English literacy acquisition of children from dual-language families, beyond known single-language literacy issues. The results from adopting this research framework will contribute to better advice and approaches for dual-language families. Furthermore, it would provide educators with more directed intervention methods should a dual-language environment pose issues in their students’ literacy acquisition skills.

Keywords: Dual-Language Students, English Literacy Acquisition

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp.295-308. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.198MB).

Genevieve Tran

Masters of Education Candidate, Teaching and Learning, Temple University, Tokyo, Japan

Genevieve Tran is a teacher in Tokyo, Japan. She is an M.Ed graduate student of OISE (the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) at the University of Toronto and holds a B.Ed from the University of Toronto and a BBA from York University in Toronto.

Dr. Julian Scott Yeomans

Professor, Operations Management & Information Systems Area, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Julian Scott Yeomans is a Professor of Operations Management at York University in Toronto. He received B.Sc. and B.Admin. degrees from the University of Regina, an MASc. from the University of Toronto, and a PhD in information systems from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.


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