Learning literacy in multilingual contexts: Scotland and South Africa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Most of the research on early literacy acquisition is conducted with monolingual children in the English-speaking world who are learning to read and write in their home language. This chapter takes a different perspective and explores the issues faced by children engaging with literacies in their heritage language and in an additional language drawing on insights from the Global North (Scotland) and the Global South (South Africa). The chapter begins by describing the distinctiveness of the Scottish education system and the increasing linguistic diversity that is shaping Scotland’s schools. This is followed by a look at different scholarly frameworks to support the understanding of children’s biliteracy development, with particular attention paid to Hornberger’s Continua of Biliteracy. This includes an examination of the additive bilingual model of Gaelic-medium education (GME). Next, the approaches to teaching reading using alphabetic scripts and reading in two languages is analysed with reference to English and isiXhosa. Finally, the chapter turns to the implications for provision and practices in multilingual contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Words to Ideas
Subtitle of host publicationThe role of literacy in enhancing young children's development
EditorsVuyokazi Nomlomo, Zubeida Desai, Jean September
Place of PublicationCape Town
PublisherUniversity of the Western Cape/British Council South Africa
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)978-0-620-80903-0
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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