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Emergent literacy instruction: 'continua of biliteracy' among newly immigrated adolescents

Journal article
Authors Anna Winlund
Published in Language and Education
Volume 34
Issue 3
Pages 249-266
ISSN 0950-0782
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Swedish
Pages 249-266
Language en
Keywords Newly immigrated adolescents, emergent literacy instruction, continua of, biliteracy, learners, Education & Educational Research, Linguistics
Subject categories Specific Languages


This article focuses on the instruction of recently immigrated adolescents with limited educational backgrounds who are developing emergent literacy. It is based on an ethnographic study conducted in a public Swedish language introductory class in 2017/2018. Its purpose is to investigate how the students engaged in literacy practices during the instruction, and how they were supported by their teachers. Empirical data, which included field notes, audio recordings, and interviews with students, were analyzed with the help of two dimensions of Hornberger's continua of biliteracy, namely, the content and development of biliteracy. Analysis of the content of biliteracy indicated that students' previous knowledge, as well as class field trips and tangible examples, served as important foundations for their instruction. Analysis of the development of biliteracy showed that the teachers' engagement with the students' diverse linguistic and other semiotic resources contributed to the students' participation in literacy practices. While the framework applied to the data includes several dimensions of literacy, indispensable for research in this complex context, the analysis also illuminates the need for the inclusion of additional dimensions in order to account for the role of interpersonal relations.

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