Demystifying simultaneous triliteracy development: One child’s emergent writing practices across three scripts focusing on letter recognition, directionality and name writing


Inclusive Education

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It has long been acknowledged that immigrant children who are originally exposed to home languages become rapidly socialized into using only English. Although many children ultimately develop receptive skills in their home language, they often become English dominant and rarely have the opportunity for literacy development. There is also a common misperception that allowing children to acquire three languages and scripts simultaneously is either too difficult or too confusing, or both. That children do not realize their full multilingual, multiliterate potential is not only a loss to their cognitive, emotional and academic development but also a violation of their language rights. As a way to help demystify simultaneous triliteracy development, I study my own child as a motherscholar. He is growing up in the United States as a simultaneous trilingual and triliterate in three alphabetical languages using two non-Roman scripts, Korean and Farsi, as well as a Roman script, English. I examine the ways in which he makes sense of and communicates in his literate world from age three to six by focusing on his emergent writing practices, particularly letter recognition, directionality and name writing in three distinctively different scripts. Social semiotic and translanguaging theories have guided my analysis of video and audio data as well as artefacts pertinent to his writing. Qualitative analysis rooted in an ethnographic case study approach demonstrated that he recognized different orthographic symbols across scripts but made linkages between them, applied correct directionality in scripts but with flexibility, and stamped a trilingual identity and met audiences' needs through name writing. The findings show the trilingual child engaging in a more flexible and creative process of letter designing as well as name writing in three scripts in more sophisticated and nuanced ways. The study provides insights into educational practices for multilingual children at preschools and schools.

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Journal of Early Childhood Literacy

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