Said & AlGhamdi

Development of minority language literacy at home: The case of an Arabic-English speaking family

Fatma Said & Fatimah AlGhamdi
Goldsmiths, University of London/University of York & Southampton University

ccCC BY 4.0

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.

2 reaktioner på ”Said & AlGhamdi

  1. Thank you very much for your revealing and well referenced presentation, which was also very easy to follow.

    We are currently researching ‘emergent bilinguals in a digital world’, as you will hear in Leona and my ITML4 presentation.

    Is it possible for you to give us a reply with some indication of how the digital world was utilized by the children, including the 5 year old younger brother please, if possible?


    1. Thank you Niki for your comments, we appreciate them. We equally enjoyed your presentation.

      In terms of the digital world, it does play an important role for the children. It acts as a tool the parents use to reinforce the reading of Arabic in more creative and colourful ways. The children watch storytime in Arabic on Youtube or other Arab TV channels and they pick up Arabic narrative styles etc.

      The older sibling uses Youtube and other Arabic language apps to help her brother read better or shows examples of how he can master some words. This is something the mother is constantly fascinated with!
      So yes, the digital world does play an important role and this is something we detail well in our upcoming paper. I will be sure to add the link here once it’s ready. Thank you once again for your interest and if you still want to communicate please feel free to email any of us.

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