Mobilizing Community Resources For Literacy Development: New Pedagogies for New Times

Dual Language Books Research: How does the multilingual lens inform identity?

Studies indicate decreasing levels of literacy engagement among students in grade six and higher (Williams, Friesen & Milton, 2009; Willms, 2003).  Consequently, literacy growth in the mainstream middle school classroom is a topic of importance for native English speakers as well as for English Language Learners.

This school-based action research study had two objectives: to determine the effect of a dual language reading program on middle school student’s literacy engagement within a multilingual and multicultural school environment; and, to investigate the role of teachers, specifically in terms of designing for literacy growth within this context.

1. To determine the effect of a dual language reading program on middle school student’s literacy engagement within a multilingual/cultural school environment.

  • How does the reading of DLBs impact student engagement with text and language?

2.To investigate the role of teachers and readers and what practices enable them to create an effective literacy program.

  • How can teachers employ a multilingual lens to engage students with curricula?

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The one year qualitative study incorporated the use of DLBs and involved two teachers and two sections each of Grade 5 and grade 7 students (approximately 100 students),  all recruited at the beginning of the school year. The school is located in a Canadian urban center with just over 1 000 000 inhabitants and the majority of the participants were English-only students with the remaining (approximately 38%) comprised of language minority students. The study provided examples of mapping dual language reading within the Language Arts curriculum and also explored identity by connecting cultures, community and school.   The methodology included a 10-week DLB reading program in Urdu, Tagalog, Spanish, and English, followed by content integrated classroom activities led by the teachers. Initial findings provide evidence of both literacy engagement and language awareness.  Results also indicated that the readings fostered language awareness through linguistic comparisons of English and other languages and enabled teachers to design multi-modal tasks targeting language awareness for all students.

Mobilizing Community Resources For Literacy Development: New Pedagogies for New Times is funded by the Alberta Centre for Child Family and Community Research.

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