Development of minority language literacy at home: The case of an Arabic-English speaking familyFatma Said & Fatimah AlGhamdi Goldsmiths, University of London/University of York & Southampton University
Cite as: Said, F. & AlGhamdi, F. (2018, December). Development of minority language literacy at home: The case of an Arabic-English speaking family. Paper presented at the Fourth Intergenerational Transmission of Minority Languages Symposium: Language and Identity.
For many transnational families ensuring their children become literate in their minority language is of paramount importance (Li, 2006; Lindholm-Leary, 2012; Berens, Kovelman, & Pettito, 2013; Eisenchalas, Shally & Guillemin, 2013). Parents feel that is important their children attain biliteracy and are able to read both or all of their languages (Ro & Cheatham, 2009), so as to communicate with older family members or access canonical and religious works in their minority language(s). The case of a diglossic language like Arabic poses challenges to parents because the child must learn the spoken language and then learn to read the formal written language (Walldoff, 2017; Said & AlGhamdi, in prep). This ethnographic sociolinguistic study focuses on the home literacy practices of an Arabic-English speaking family in the UK. Data was collected over 24 months (and is still ongoing) through either video or audio recordings and some has been transcribed. The data suggest that the home linguistic environment plays a crucial role in the development of literacy in Arabic, the mother take it upon herself to designate particular times during the week and the father on weekends to overtly teach and monitor the literacy development of their children. The eldest daughter (the focus of this presentation) teaches her younger sibling to also become biliterate (Obeid, 2009; Bridges, 2014; Kheirkhah, 2016). This paper contributes to the growing literature on family language policy and introduced new knowledge about Arabic literacy.