Parallel literacy classes and hidden strengths: learning to read in English, Urdu and classical Arabic

Robertson, Leena Helavaara (2002) Parallel literacy classes and hidden strengths: learning to read in English, Urdu and classical Arabic. Literacy, 36 (3). pp. 119-126. ISSN 1741-4350

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Abstract

The aim of this article is to explore young bilingual children’s early literacy experiences in three different languages, English, Urdu and classical Arabic, and in three strikingly different types of classes in England. It draws on a larger ethnographic study that sets out to discover what kinds of advantages or additional strengths bilingual children might bring from their community literacy practices and from their experiences of learning to read in two or more languages simultaneously into their English literacy lessons. The main focus of the article is on one bilingual boy, Ikram, of Pakistani background, who at the beginning of the study was 5 years old. The participant observations in these three different types of classes and audio and video tapes of some these lessons show that at the age of 7 Ikram has begun to read in three languages. I argue that in doing so he is developing additional strengths that are generally overlooked. These new types of literacy strengths derive from the fact he is learning to read simultaneously in three languages. Yet they remain hidden within his English lessons.

Item Type:Article
Research Areas:Middlesex University Schools and Centres > Centre for Education Research and Scholarship (CERS)
Middlesex University Schools and Centres > School of Health and Education > Education
ID Code:6632
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Deposited On:19 Oct 2010 10:20
Last Modified:24 Nov 2014 14:26

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