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The language and literacy practices of English-Chinese bilingual students in Western Canada

  • Author / Creator
    Sun, Miao
  • In a rapidly globalizing world, bilingualism and biliteracy become important assets. It is widely recognized that full and partial immersion (bilingual) education programs are emerging as successful routes to effective second language acquisition in many parts of the world. However, much of the research on language acquisition and program development in dual languages is focused on French immersion in Canada and Spanish bilingual education in the US. In Canada, despite the fact that Chinese bilingual programs have existed for almost 30 years, very little research has been done on how these language programs function or how effective they are in developing bilingualism and biliteracy (Wu & Bilash, 2000). There is reason to believe that current research on other bilingual programs such as Spanish bilingual education in the US or French immersion in Canada may not be completely applicable to English-Chinese bilingual students because of the distinct linguistic, social, cultural, political, and contextual differences. This study was designed as an ethnographic case study to explore bilingual students’ language and literacy practices at school and out of school in a city in Western Canada. The main participants in the study were three Grade 5 English-Chinese bilingual students. The ethnographic data were collected for a whole academic year at school, in students’ homes, and at community events through participant observation; fieldnotes from the observation; semistructured interviews and open-ended conversations with children, teachers, the principal, and parents; audio- and videotaped student-student and student-teacher interactions; and literacy-artifact collection and analysis. Within-case and cross-case analyses were both conducted, and three main themes were identified as significant factors that support these bilingual students’ successful language and literacy development and positive identities as language learners. The three themes include dialogue between languages, dialogue among peers, and dialogue across places. This research has the potential to benefit the educational system in creating successful bilingual and biliterate English-Chinese programs. A deeper understanding of English-Chinese bilingual students’ language and literacy practices will be central to assisting these students, as tomorrow’s global citizens, with developing the highest possible degree of dual language proficiency, academic achievement, and intercultural competence.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2011-11
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R31H0B
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Department of Elementary Education
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Blair, Heather (Department of Elementary Education)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • McClay, Jill (Department of Elementary Education)
    • Bilash, Olenka (Department of Secondary Education)
    • Wiltse, Lynne (Department of Elementary Education)
    • Wu, Joe (Department of Elementary Education)
    • Ellis, Julia (Department of Elementary Education)
    • Toohey, Kelleen (Simon Fraser University)