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Literacy Instruction and the Bilingual Learner

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Abstract This talk builds a case for the practical application of a sociolinguistic, sociocultural and critical approach to literacy instruction in the teaching of bilingual learners. Professor Wallace addresses the question: to what extent can we ensure that literacy instruction responds to the needs and resources of bilingual learners? That is, what account is taken of learners’ bilingualism and knowledge of a wider and/or different set of cultural practices than those of their mainstream peers?

In her talk, Professor Wallace presents a series of vignettes of bilingual learners learning to read in different educational settings. Extrapolating from these, she sets out four orientations to literacy instruction: a skills orientation, a sociolinguistic orientation, a sociocultural orientation, concluding with a critical literacy approach, which, it is argued, offers an essential resource for bilingual pupils in the twenty first century.

Bio Catherine Wallace is Professor of Education in the Department of Culture, Communication and Media at the Institute of Education, University of London. Her areas of interest are literacy, in particular critical literacy, multilingualism and classroom interaction. She is the author of a number of books and articles on literacy, including Critical Reading in Language Education and a forthcoming publication: Literacy and the Bilingual Learner: texts and practices in London schools.

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group series.

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