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Title: Emergent Literacy in Bilingual Children


Dębski, Robert ; Rabiej, Agnieszka

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Instytut Języka Polskiego Polskiej Akademii Nauk

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The objective of the article is to (1) explain the role of emergent literacy in the community language in developing literacy in the additional language and biliteracy, and (2) demonstrate the need to develop resources supporting emergent reading skills in community languages in Australia. A critical review of literature in the field of emergent literacy and bilingual language development shows that the interaction between languages in the development of biliteracy is complex, but overall it demonstrates a positive impact of emergent literacy in the community language on the development of literacy skills in the additional language in later years. The article presents emergent literacy example materials, targeting bilingual children in Australia with Polish backgrounds, and explains the design considerations underpinning their development. A particular emphasis is on explaining how the materials have been designed to (1) stress the presence of different cultures and languages in the children’s environment (2) teach how to transfer reading skills and behaviours from Polish into English, and (3) emphasise those specific grapheme-phoneme relations in Polish which present difficulties for children acquiring Polish and English. The authors conclude that opportunities for transfer of early reading skills and behaviours from a community language to an additional language can be enhanced by designing reading materials for positive transfer, because learners who are acquiring an additional language use the strategies which they find most useful in their first language. It may be equally important to develop reading materials and instruction in the mainstream language in a way that community-language-speaking children are able to draw upon the skills which they bring with them into the reading learning process at school from home.


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