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Title: Making things in their own way : a study of digital literacy practices in three multilingual households
Author: Akhter, Parven
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2015
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The purpose of my study is to contribute to the understanding of the ways in which South Asian children use digital technologies in their homes to learn literacy and language and examine the relationship between home and school discourses. My study explores the ways in which bilingual and multilingual children’s literacy is influenced by their home culture and their engagement with digital technology. The study also considers screen-based multimodal communicative practices. Data collection was conducted over the course of a year and involved three South Asian families including six bilingual/multilingual children in their homes in Northern England. The children’s ages ranged between four and twelve years. An ethnographic methodology was used as a means of understanding the children’s digital practices as they unfolded in their family homes. It included rapport building with the families, obtaining their consent, participant observations, semi-structured interviews and video-recording. A video camera was used to capture digital practices when the children were using a mobile phone, playing Nintendo DSi, making a PowerPoint presentation and accessing online multilingual resources. The video-based data was transcribed using the concept of multimodal interactions. The data analysis employed a thematic approach. From the overall data description, three initial themes emerged: 'literacy-language in a cultural context’, 'home-school relationship' and 'multimodal digital practices in the context of learning literacy and culture’. These initial themes were used to analyse the data further and gain a deeper understanding of the ways in which South Asian family culture influenced children’s literacy and language learning through their use of digital technologies. The main findings recognised that children communicated in the home by combining their bilingual languages in a syncretic process. This bringing together of children’s digital, multimodal and multi-cultural communicative practices provides new insights into the concepts of grammatical trans-languaging, syncretism and hybridity, evident in the children’s chosen activities. The study revealed that their language interaction was intergenerational. The children were creating a hybrid space of practice. The children demonstrated creativity in the construction of hybrid languaging/ trans-languaging. It iii was also evident that heritage language communication, dual language and digital technology skills emerged through the affordance offered by technology to the children. The study explored different kinds of knowledge transfer between home and school. These were literacy, language and heritage culture during children’s use of digital technology. Therefore, children’s home-school linking practices, during their use of digital technology, were understood as schooled constructions of literacy in the multilingual home setting. I viewed this knowledge transfer as symbiotic. It was also apparent that children associated their prior knowledge and experience with new knowledge while using digital technology. This indicates that the children’s learning process extends beyond the visual mode. Children’s currently observable activities revealed a complex process that individualises their learning experience. Overall, multimodal digital literacy practices were extended through the modes selected by the participants and these went beyond the visible modes of communication. This communication was seen as digital and inter-generational multilingual literacy practice in the multilingual household. Finally, the study revealed a new dimension to the theory of multicultural family-focused learning in terms of literacy and language. Children were drawing on different funds of knowledge within their activities. These were digital ‘funds of knowledge’, cultural heritage ‘funds of knowledge’ and home-school link ‘funds of knowledge’. These funds of knowledge integrated into the children’s multicultural family-focused learning and evolved an emergent theory - namely funds of integrative digital multicultural practices. The study implies that, for South Asian children’s home-based literacy and language development, educators need to take cultural context into consideration. Finally, the study suggests that more research is needed into the growing use of digital literacies in home environments and its implications for children’s literacy and language development. This is particularly relevant for research involving bilingual/ multilingual children.
Supervisor: Pahl, Kate ; Levy, Rachael Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available