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Article

Since the mid-20th century, there have been dramatic changes in our conception of how bilingualism affects children’s cognitive development, moving from one of certain negativity, to unlimited advantage, and finally resting in a current state defined largely by confusion because of the complexity in how bilingualism is defined. However, the question has great consequences, so it is important to evaluate the evidence to understand the impact. Such information determines how families make decisions about their home language, particularly regarding the maintenance of heritage languages; how schools offer programs based on alternative languages; how clinicians assess children for learning or other special needs; and how communities offer services to diverse members. By defining the concepts more precisely than has typically been the case, the complexity of the relation between bilingualism and cognition becomes clear. The evidence shows that bilingualism impacts cognitive level and brain function across the lifespan, but the nature and extent of those effects are modified by the type and degree of bilingualism and the nature of the task. Understanding the conditions under which various effects emerge is essential for interpreting the effects of bilingualism on children’s cognitive development and their potential role in education.

Article

Second-language critical literacy refers to the application of the concepts and practices of critical literacy in contexts where individuals are using a language that is not the one they grew up with or were initially socialized into. “Second” means a language acquired either naturalistically or in instructed contexts that is somewhat distinct, at least conceptually, from a primary or so-called native language—learned in some sense earlier or better than a primary one (although these terms are at best simplifications of complex matters). Critical literacy is generally recognized as having evolved out of a line of work in the broad and comparatively long tradition of radical education associated with Paulo Freire. However, as different strands of critical literacy have become more developed, more established, and more visible, it is harder to determine lines of influence. It was not until the beginning of the 21st century that critical language pedagogy and critical literacy began to appear in reports from a range of countries. In Latin America, critical perspectives and pedagogies have a history of 200 years, existed before the Spanish conquest, and are not tied to Freire in particular, but result from a combination of social, cultural, political, and educational influences emerging in the region in the 19th century. These perspectives and pedagogies are multifaceted, polysemic, locally situated, and tied to each specific territory. This means that it is important to consider broad historical perspectives and to recognize the powerful macro-level factors that can eventually culminate in somewhat favorable conditions for critical literacy in specific contexts at the present time. Those conditions may not last, incidentally. Finally, to answer the question “How can practical instructional programs in the area of second language critical literacy be designed, developed, and implemented?” it seems that critical re-design can be a useful approach in the classroom. Critical re-design refers to the process, somewhat analogous to Freire’s emphasis on gaining distance from a problem, by which students analyze an issue so as to be able to act on it “to make a positive difference” in their social milieu. It is through detailed analysis of the issue and its connection to students’ lives, and the use of imagination, that the possibility of making a difference becomes actual.

Article

Wenyang Sun and Xue Lan Rong

Language education is becoming an increasingly important topic in education in Asian countries, especially as schools in Asian countries have become more multilingual and multicultural as a result of rapid urbanization and globalization. A comparative analysis of the issues in language education reform in Asian countries—using China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore as examples—shows that, historically and currently, English language education policies are shaped by various underpinning ideologies such as linguicism, nationalism, and neoliberalism. English can serve as a vehicle for upward socioeconomic mobility, or an instrument of linguistic imperialism, or both, in Asia contexts. These ideologies, through language education policies and reforms, impact the status as well as the pedagogy and promotion of the English language. There is a trend and a need with regard to addressing critical consciousness in English education in order to counter the forces of linguicism and neoliberalism in an increasingly multilingual, multicultural, and globalized world.

Article

A specific comparative framework that incorporates an interpretive process dedicated to developing a more complex understanding of teaching knowledge incorporates the specific local contexts in which studies on teaching knowledge are conducted. Research on teaching knowledge within the region grew and diversified from the 1980s and 1990s. There are two key thematic contributions of this body of research: the nature of teaching knowledge and pedagogical approaches to teaching specific curricular content focusing on early literacy. Points of comparison between the different contributions of studies addressing teaching knowledge can be found. Additionally, institutional and social inequalities are manifested in schools and education in Latin American countries. Teaching knowledge, which teachers produce in and adapt to different social spaces (in other words, through practice), is crucial for fostering the development and learning of the students who attend school under the challenging conditions of the schools in these countries.

Article

Catherine Compton-Lilly

In 1982, Denny Taylor coined the term “family literacy” to reference the ways young children and their parents interact around texts. Since then, the term family literacy has generally been applied to the practices that occur in homes to support young children as they become readers and writers. However, 30 years later, this definition negates the full scope of possibilities that might inform our understandings of the literacy practices that occur within home spaces and among family members. These possibilities reflect two important trends increasingly recognized within literacy research communities. First, technological advances have affected the ways people read and write and the multimodal literacy practices that have come to define literacy in families and homes. These developments are often the focus of New Literacy Studies as defined by the New London Group and others. Second, while generally not addressed in terms of family literacy, a substantial and growing body of research has documented the out-of-school literacy practices of adolescents and youth. Many of these literacy practices are enacted and displayed in home settings. While connections between out-of-school literacy practices and family literacy are generally not explicit, homes and families provide significant social contexts that are critical to engaging in technological, peer-informed, and popular culture practices. In short, family literacy does not end once children learn to read. In contrast, family literacy assumes new forms and involves new modalities that both echo and extend the literacy practices found within families. This is significant, as it challenges conceptions of adolescent and youth literacy as being separate from the literacy practices of families. To extend what is meant by family literacy, it is redefined as more than traditional activities that involve young children with texts. Instead, researchers are challenged to consider the full range of literacy practices that occur among family members and within homes across time. In doing this, family literacy and new literacy studies are brought together. Thus, the term family/home literacy is used to recognize not only the literacy practices that are enacted between children and parents, but the full range of literacy practices that occur among all family members—including siblings, extended family members, and friends. In short, family/home literacy practices are intertwined with home literacy affordances, which include the texts, opportunities, and technological resources that are available and used in homes. In order to explore family/home literacies over time, children’s literacy practices, including traditional and technological family/home literacy practices, are explored. Issues raised include parental mentoring of school-age children as they encounter new technologies at home, the adaptation of available resources by children as they move into and through adolescence, and transactions involving texts (both traditional and digital) among adolescents, young adults, and their parents.

Article

The topic of gender differences in reading, writing, and language development has long been of interest to parents, educators, and public-policy makers. While some researchers have claimed that gender differences in verbal and language abilities are disappearing, careful evaluation of the scientific research shows otherwise. Examination of nationally representative samples of educational achievement data show that there are moderately sized gender differences in reading achievement favoring girls and women (d = −0.19 to −0.44 across age groups), and substantially larger gender differences in writing (d = −0.42 to −0.62), spelling (d = −0.39 to −0.50), and grammar (d = −0.39 to −0.42). Explanations for observed gender differences in verbal and language abilities suggest a complex network of biological, social, and cultural forces rather than any single factor.

Article

Christopher J. Wagner

Literate identities, reading identities, and writing identities describe the ways that a person constructs the self as a reader, writer, and user of language. The study of literacy and identities is grounded in the idea that literacy is not just about skills related to language, print, and texts but about individuals who must develop these skills. The learning of these skills is mediated by a person’s developing beliefs about language, literacy, and the self. Successful readers and writers enter, make sense of, and produce texts through personal and relational connections. Literacy, in this sense, is not just about knowing, using, and producing language and text but about ways of being in relation to language and text. Multiple perspectives on identities have provided insights into how social, cognitive, and other aspects of the self develop in relation to reading, writing, and language. These highlight the close relationship between literate identities and literacy learning in formal and informal educational contexts, and the ways that literate identities are linked to literacy achievement. Developmental approaches have considered how and when views of the self form in relation to reading and writing experiences and instruction and have extended the study of literate identities from before school entry through adulthood. Attention to multilingual learners has provided insights into the multiplicity of literate identities people construct and pointed to the ways that attending to the whole person as a reader and writer can support literacy achievement.

Article

Literacy is a gateway to education, and yet universal literacy remains an aspiration rather than a reality. The science of reading has, however, made significant progress in understanding the key factors that impact development. Five relevant factors can be identified. The first factor is the developmental focus of models. Here the richness and dynamic nature of development is central. Models must clearly explain change and phenomena such as bi- and multilingualism. A second factor concerns bioecological influences on development. Stronger models include understandings of the complexity of gene–environment interactions in development. A third pertinent factor concerns the precise nature of the learning task facing the beginner reader, and in particular the influence of distinct orthographies. A fourth factor concerns the coherent exposition of the cognitive processes involved in “word-level” and “text-level” reading processes. Finally, contextual effects on literacy are profound. Historical and politicoeconomic forces are often linked to wide country- and region-based differences in literacy. A detailed treatment of what is known about effective interventions for struggling readers can be built on the basis of this theorizing. Here, evidence from meta-analysis suggests that both the word-level decoding and text-level comprehension aspects of reading development can be measurably improved through evidence-based interventions. For word-level interventions studies focusing on phonics currently furnish the most secure evidence of impact. For text-level comprehension, interventions focusing on oral language development and text-based meta-cognitive strategy appear the most efficacious. Measure of treatment effects for such interventions show modest but reliable impacts on development and form the basis of ongoing efforts to optimize interventions.

Article

In the digital era, written communication for children and youth is changing. As texts and media include complex intersections of print, image, sound, and other modalities, the ways in which writing is conceived is shifting. The evolution and impact of digital technologies follow a long history of invention, innovation, and change in written communication, with critiques of writing and communication technologies present in both historical and contemporary contexts. A new development in contemporary digital culture is the significant and widespread participation of children and youth in digital media and communication due to the ubiquity, affordances, and appeal of mobile digital devices. In the history of writing instruction, pedagogical approaches and perspectives have continued to evolve, with the teaching of writing at times positioned as subordinate to the teaching of reading, a pattern that has repeated into the digital era in which an emphasis on digital writing production and text creation has been similarly less of a focus than receptive consumption of media. Shifts in digital practice and the emergence of new devices for writing present both challenges and opportunities for the teaching of writing and the creation of texts in schools, with issues of digital resource provision and access to technology presenting hurdles for some teachers. Teacher awareness of the digital worlds, practices, and “funds of knowledge” that students are bringing to the writing classroom is vital to reimagining the writing classroom within contemporary digital culture. In the 21st century, writing instruction needs to be inclusive of the operational demands of writing as well as sociocultural and critical requirements, in addition to responding to fluid technoliteracy contexts and consideration of how “writing” itself is changing.

Article

The field of transnational childhood and education emerges under intensifying mobilities. These global conditions disrupt universalist educational treatments of childhood as a fixed developmental stage of human being. Transnationality shows childhood to be a psychosocially constructed experience that takes myriad form across diverse cultural, historical, educational, and political contexts. The lives of actual children are caught in colonial and national constructions of childhood and subject to its discourses, politics, and normative enactments through public schooling. The emerging field of transnational childhood and education represents a potentially critical intervention in colonial and national enactments of childhood worldwide. Despite interdisciplinary efforts to reconceptualize childhood, Western educational institutions continue to hold to and reproduce hegemonic and colonial understandings of childhood as monocultural, heteronormative, familial, innocent, and protected. Mass global flows of people, culture, and ideas compel policy-makers and educational experts worldwide to consider transnational childhood as the dominant situation of children in and across multicultural nations. The fluidity of malleable childhood experience is poised to generate new educational arrangements and innovations. Transnational lives of children de-stable normative categorizations and fixed situations placed upon children in and through the mechanisms of early childhood education and national schooling. Researchers of transnational childhood and education engage a range of educational experiences and arrangements of children moving within, across, and outside of formal and national schooling institutions. Increasingly children and families are caught in experiences produced by global, geo-political conditions including: war, forcible migration, detainment on borders, internal colonization, and environmental catastrophe. To respond to the times, families and communities seek out and/or are forced to provide opportunities and alternatives for children outside of school. Increasingly children use emergent digital and other forms of remote and inventive means of education. As research in this area is new, transdisciplinary, and ground-breaking, the study of transnational childhoods and education has the potential to radically innovate and deepen the meanings and possibilities of both childhood and education in a rapidly globalizing, uncertain, and changing world.