The Importance of Literacy in the Home Language: The View From Australia
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While advantages of literacy in the home language have been widely documented, the Australian education system has not been proactive in providing institutional support for its development. This paper investigates the impact of (il)literacy in the home language on the academic, affective, and social development of bilingual/multilingual children and proposes principles that home-language-literacy programs should meet to be effective. It discusses programs that, although designed to develop literacy or second-language proficiency mainly in classroom contexts, could be easily adapted to address the needs of the linguistically and culturally diverse Australian context. We argue that the cost of not investing in successful home-language-literacy programs will be higher in the long run than their implementation costs and recommend that Australia should consider supporting grassroots home-language-literacy programs in a push to improve overall literacy outcomes for Australian home-language speakers.
© The Author(s) 2013. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Applied Linguistics and Educational Linguistics