Apples

Literacy practices in two Danish-Somali families: Between training, testing and “feeding the soul”

Authors:
Mette Vedsgaard Christensen

Keywords:
Literacy education, Religious literacy practices, Multilingual children

Abstract:

This article explores the literacy practices in two Danish-Somali families with young children. The data comes from focused ethnographic fieldwork in the families. The study is rooted in a sociocultural view of literacy, aiming at understanding how different ways of engaging with language and the written word express different beliefs and values about literacy. The study finds that school-oriented literacy training and literacy tests as well as religious practices play important roles in the everyday lives of the families. In some cases, the latter practices share similar properties with the former. The obvious and salient influence of school-like literacy practices shows that the families are not only very willing, but also very capable of fulfilling the roles of “co-creators” and “school-assistants” when it comes to their children’s learning and literacy development. This finding calls for a reconsideration of how teachers and other professionals perceive minority families and their literacy practices and experiences.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies