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Identity in children learning to read and write in three languages: a case study

Ibrahim, N. (2017) Identity in children learning to read and write in three languages: a case study. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

This study investigates how thirteen trilingualltriliterate children aged 5-17 appropriate, mediate and display their multilingual identity across three main socio-cultural and educational contexts: an out-of-school English literacy course; their mainstream French classroom; and community-based heritage language programmes (Spanish, German, Japanese, Korean, Sinhala, Bangia, Russian, and Farsi), crucial for maintaining a cultural/linguistic bond with their families, within and across national borders. The central focus is on eliciting children's attitudes, perceptions and interpretations of their trilingualltri-literate world. Drawing on a mixed and multi-method methodology, including surveys and questionnaires, interviews with the children and their parents, children' s drawings and written narratives, and chosen symbolic objects, this qualitative case study is embedded in a sociolinguistic, social constructionist and socio-cultural approach to language and literacy development and identity construction.The findings demonstrate that children are able to identify the place their languages occupy in their educational and family contexts; the importance of having access to the corresponding literacy; and the affective connection that binds the language to a significant being in their lives: their friends and teachers in school and their parents and relatives in the family context. Therefore, this study posits a tripartite construction of identity that children negotiate in interaction with real people; in tangible places; through relevant experiences. Children's multimodal productions thus reflect the construction of a multilingual identity that evolves simultaneously across fixed/unitary and dynamic/hybrid spaces, as children seek coherence in diversity. Finally, this thesis explores the importance of this diversity in building children's self-esteem, cementing a positive relationship with their languages, and creating an emerging linguistic and literate identity. It looks at the implications for classroom practice and teacher responses in multilingual contexts and examines the role of the parents in nurturing children's multiple literacies and identities.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Edwards, V.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:75014

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