Characteristics of Relevant Literacy Instruction
Strickland (1998) summarizes several recurring themes in the literature on literacy instruction for culturally and linguistically diverse students:
- "Variability exists within and across linguistic and cultural communities.
... Too often teachers express the belief that little occurs in students'
homes that is of value in school. The tendency is to characterize all homes
of linguistic or cultural minority children in much the same way, though they
vary tremendously as do homes in the broader mainstream community." (p. 51)
- "A student's conceptual framework and background experiences are critical
to literacy learning. Students learn how literacy is used and how literate
knowledge is communicated within social settings, both at home and at school.
Both teachers and students must learn to respect the idea that individuals
construct meanings from different perspectives and understand how one's meanings
may differ from those of others." (p. 51)
- "Both learning and teaching are enhanced when context is acknowledged
and used. The need for teachers to be aware of the influence of their
students' culture is stressed. It is quite possible, for example, that second-language
learning may fail in the regular classroom not because of a language barrier
but because non-Hispanic teachers are not aware of important cultural differences."
- "The use of language for real communication enhances learning.
Authentic assignments and literacy strategies must allow all students to use
meaningful, functional oral and written language." (p. 51)
- "The use of materials and experiences to which student can relate helps
establish and expand their conceptual framework. Educators are urged
to become more knowledgeable about multicultural literature and the unique
culturally based interactional styles or discourse patterns of various groups
and the potential impact on children's learning."
- "A focus on high-level thinking and problem solving is critical for
all children. Deep concern is expressed about literacy instruction that
focuses on low-level mechanics or pronunciation at the literal or word level,
with minimal or no attention to the comprehension of meaningful texts. In
view of the type of instruction that many of these students face daily, a
lack of interest and motivation is probably a sensible response." (p. 51)
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