Issue Theme: Biliteracy in Schools and Communities


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Language Arts
Volume 93, Number 5, May 2016
Issue Theme: Biliteracy in Schools and Communities

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Thoughts from the Editors: Biliteracy in Schools and Communities
Guest editors: Mileidis Gort and Iliana Reyes

Nurturing Young Children’s Biliteracy Development: A Korean Family’s Hybrid Literacy Practices at Home
Kwangok Song
Abstract: This qualitative case study examined how a Korean immigrant family organized and arranged language and literacy practices to promote the focal child’s biliteracy development. The parents selected activities to support the focal child’s learning in her two languages. They also developed various strategies from their experiences and beliefs and sought resources in the community. Alternating their two languages and translation facilitated the focal child’s learning as she and her parents engaged in negotiating and refining meaning. The findings of this study encourage educators to become aware of immigrant parents’ efforts to support their children’s learning in their two languages. Furthermore, this study urges educators to cultivate collaboration across schools, families, and communities to support bilingual students’ literacy learning in their two languages.

Revisiting Family Message Journals: Audience and Biliteracy Development in a First-Grade ESL Classroom
Leah Durán
Abstract: This article focuses on ways of building on the linguistic resources of bilingual Latina/o children through the use of bilingual Family Message Journals. Drawing from sociocultural and translingual perspectives on literacy development, it examines first-grade students’ writing and biliteracy development over time as children wrote and responded to journal entries from family members. The article suggests ways that teachers can support students’ audience awareness, growth as writers, and biliteracy, even outside of bilingual education programs.

“I write to show how beautiful my languages are”: Translingual Writing Instruction in English-Dominant Classrooms
Angie Zapata and Tasha Tropp Laman
Abstract: This is a generative time in the study of language, literacy, and education as scholars theorize and examine the possibilities of leveraging students’ linguistic repertoires as pedagogical resources. In this cross-case analysis, we share how three elementary language arts teachers in different regions of the United States developed translingual contexts for writing and how those practices served English learners’ composing practices. Findings suggest that community languages and literacies, teacher modeling, and the use and study of linguistically diverse texts are integral to building translingual writing contexts for bilingual learners, including those in English-dominant classrooms.

Research and Policy: Developing Biliteracy: What Do Teachers Really Need to Know about Language?
Deborah K. Palmer and Ramón Antonio Martínez
Abstract: In the United States, monolingual schooling contexts are the norm. Yet with increasing linguistic diversity among students, all teachers need to be prepared to support bi/multilingual children’s literacy development. How? Ultimately, we need to move away from a monolingual norm to understand that (a) language(s) are sets of practices rather than abstract structures, and (b) bi/multilingualism is normal around the world. Supporting students’ development of new language practices in school requires embracing the diversity of language practices students bring into the classroom—including hybrid, vernacular, and other everyday language practices. In our article, we describe this more dynamic understanding of bilingualism, share research that engages related pedagogies, and provide grounding for the possibility that even monolingual teachers, in any schooling context, can support biliteracy development for bi/multilingual students.

Professional Book Reviews: Teaching Practices That Support Biliterate Learning
Eliza Allen, Tasha Tropp Laman, Lisa S. Stockdale, and Emily Zuccaro
Abstract: In this issue of Language Arts, we review four recent books about teaching and learning with and from emergent bilingual students. The books examine reading workshop, building content knowledge through meaningful instruction, and creating pedagogical practices that transcend content areas. The authors of these selections outline and illustrate classroom practices that build on children’s entire linguistic repertoire's in order to create meaningful curriculum. Readers will walk away from these reviews informed about research and pedagogy and ready to value their emergent bilingual student'cultural and linguistic resources, viewing seeing them as possibilities to explore rather than hurdles to overcome.

Children’s Literature Reviews: Biliteracy and Children’s Literature
Jonda C. McNair, Deanna Day, Karla J. Möller, and Angie Zapata
Abstract: This children's literature review column features books with characters in contexts where multiple languages are spoken, books written in multiple languages (about culturally specific topics such as lucha libre and salsa that meaningfully connect to the language), and books in which a second language is naturally interspersed throughout the text.

Conversation Currents: The Continua of Biliteracy
Iliana Reyes and Nancy H. Hornberger
Abstract: This issue’s theme of biliteracy invites readers to consider the possibilities when we acknowledge and build on students’ existing language and literacy abilities. Nancy H. Hornberger, professor and Chair of Educational Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and Iliana Reyes, research scientist at CINVESTAV, Mexico City, and associated faculty in language, reading, and culture at the University of Arizona, discuss the continuum of biliteracy and how teachers have used it to better acknowledge student language as a resource.