Literacy Acquisition of Bilingual Learners

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A child who is bilingual uses two or more languages in their everyday life (Wiles, as cited by Smyth, 2003). Literacy acquisition is much more than being able to read and write, it is also about the skills that are gained that enable one to read and write. For example, a bilingual child whose home language is Polish is learning English, and therefore learning to read English. Through his literacy acquisition, the focus would not be on the language being learnt but on the reading and the cognitive skills required to do so (Bialystok, 2002). Krashen (2000) maintains that educating children in their first language can aid their acquisition of their second language. When education programmes have the following three components they are successful in educating bilingual learners: subject matter teaching in the first language, literacy development in the first language, comprehensible input in English (Krashen, 2000). Baker (2006) states that within the early development of bilingualism there are two types: ‘simultaneous’ and ‘sequential’. The differences between the two are the age which the child is introduced to the second language and the circumstances behind it. Simultaneous bilingualism is when a child learns two languages from birth, at the same time, e.g. a language from each parent. Sequential bilingualism is where a child learns one language in the home then learns a further (second) language at school, where their home language is not the spoken language. Education Scotland, (Scottish Government) (n.d.) state that the learning environment in which a bilingual child is taught is very important in promoting literacy acquisition. It should promote their home culture and include resources and materials that they reco... ... middle of paper ... ...part 8). Somerville MA: Cascadilla Press. Ma, J. (2008). 'Reading the word and the world' - how mind and culture are mediated through the use of dual-language storybooks. Education 3-13: International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education, 36(3), 237-251. Multilingual Resources for Children Project . (1995). Building bridges: Multilingual resources for children. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Scottish Government. (n.d.). Supporting the development of EAL in primary schools. Retrieved from Education Scotland: Smyth, G. (2003). Helping Bilingual Pupils to Access the Curriculum. London: David Fulton Publishers. Sneddon, R. (2008). Young bilingual children learning to read with dual language books. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 7(2), 71-84.
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