Literacy outside school : home practices of Chinese immigrant families in Canada
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The purpose of this ethnographic research was to understand four Chinese immigrant children and their families' beliefs and uses of literacy in their intersecting worlds of home, school, and community in a Canadian context from a socio-cultural perspective. The data were subjected to thematic analysis. The findings indicate that the nature of the home literacy practices is multifaceted and complex. Factors such as the families' literacy experiences and heritage in China, their experiences in Canada, and the social context of the families' lives interweave in their daily literacy and living. The Chinese literacy traditions and cultural values of the parents dominate the families' home literacy practices. These literacy traditions, embedded in Confucianism and the socio-cultural context of modern China, differ from the values of mainstream Canadian schools, and thus contribute to the mismatch between immigrant children's home and school literacy practices. The findings also indicate that family physical environment and economic status have relatively little impact on children's literacy development. Rather, parental educational background, and the social environments including parent-child interactions, shared family activities, and the degree of parental involvement and support for children's learning play an important role in the families' literacy practices. This research also demonstrates that the four families' literacy and living were influenced by the choices made by the families around access to and utilization of media. The disparity between immigrant children's home and school literacy practices often hinders their literacy development and cultural integration into Canadian society. Implications of this study highlight the importance of communication between home and school. There is a need for teachers to take a proactive position to connect classroom practices with children's literacy experiences outside school. The study suggests immigrant parents need to provide a variety of learning opportunities for their children and be involved in all aspects of their children's learning. Furthermore, they need to empower themselves by learning English language and become informed of the literacy practices in schools in the host society. The implications also suggest that it is necessary to connect policy with practice and make first language and literacy education a part of school curriculum.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Copyright DateSeptember 2000
children of immigrants
literacy -- social aspects