While the number of multilingual students in public schools continues to rise, this cultural and linguistic diversity is rarely reflected in the ways that literacy teaching and learning are conceptualized in classrooms.
Emily Machado, assistant professor at the University of Washington College of Education, explores how teachers in linguistically diverse classrooms can invite students to bring languages other than English into their school writing in her award-winning dissertation, “Young Children's Translingual and Transnational Writing in an Urban Literacy Classroom.”
In a new podcast, Machado discusses how providing opportunities for students to bring languages other than English into their writing supported children's agency, power and expression, how educators can integrate these opportunities into their instruction, the preparation of future teachers for their work in linguistically diverse classrooms and more.
“We have this puzzling predicament where published authors are often celebrated for bring languages other than English into their writing, but young children are rarely invited to do this work,” Machado said.
In her study, Machado observed a master teacher working in a highly linguistically diverse second grade classroom over a nine-week period in which students completed a unit on poetry, while also conducting interviews with 20 students and collecting nearly 600 samples of student writing.
During one particular lesson, students wrote about their names, inspired by the poem “My Name Is Jorge” by Jane Medina. Machado said the students were able to enact resistance against the mispronunciation of their names through a series of powerful poems in which they represented themselves to their peers.
"Even young children can use languages other than English in their writing in ways that are not only creative and strategic, but that also support their power and agency,” Machado said.
Machado will share findings of her study during the annual business meetings of two special interest groups of the American Educational Research Association — the Second Language Research and Critical Perspectives on Early Childhood Education SIGs — during the AERA’s 2019 annual meeting. Both SIGs selected Machado’s study for their 2019 Outstanding Dissertation Awards.
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