Multiliteracy in Central Alabama

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Welcome to our site about multiliteracy in Central Alabama! We are future teachers who have designed this site to encourage the fostering of multiliteracy development in the classroom. We aim to show you how easy it can be, even for monolingual teachers. The face of our nation is changing fast, and we believe the efforts of teachers to foster multiliteracy should reflect those changes. Throughout this site you will find pictures taken around Birmingham, Alabama that depict text written in several languages. With these findings are suggestions of how to use this site to foster multiliteracy in your own classroom. We hope you enjoy our site!

Multiliteracy vs. Multicultural

We want to emphasize the difference between multicultural and multilingual. For years teachers have practiced exercises in the classroom that encourage multicultural understandings. Many of these exercises can be modified to accomodate for multiliteracy development. An exercise is made multilingual when we add a lingual component. For example, when studying other countries in addition to learning about traditions, foods, customs, and histories, we can have students learn words in the country's native language. Even adding one word to an activity creates a multilingual development. We want teachers to know that it is okay to start small. Then we will all surely see how easily we can create an environment that fosters multiliteracy.

On our site:

You will find many links that will take you to useful sites. Some items we have included are:

  • Alphabet songs for each language. This can be used as a starter in the morning a few days a week.

  • Cartoons in other languages for centers.

  • Nursery rhymes in other languages that can be used in your classroom.

  • Common items found in other languages that can be used to compare labels with the same items written in English.

  • Pictures around Birmingham written in many languages.

Categorizing Print Items

For the purposes of this site, we have categorized the print documented according to the guidelines that can be found in Taylor, Dorsey and Gaines, "Growing Up Literate" (1988). In the book, a group of researchers studies the environments of successful first-grade readers living in an inner-city district. The authors set up a framework for categorizing print items according to the following guidelines:

  • Instrumental:  Print that serves some sort of instructional purpose. We read these items when we need to know something including directions for use, contents, instructions, lists, etc.
  • Social-interactional:  Creates an interaction between people. Serves as a catalyst for social interaction with others.
  • News-related:  Gives information about news happennings.
  • Recreational:  Reading that is for "fun" or serves as entertainment.
  • Confirmational:  Confirms facts or identity. Serves a sentimental purpose to individual(s).
  • Critical/Educational:  Serves an educational purpose to the reader.

The pictures throughout this website have been categorized according to these guidelines. This can aid a teacher in thinking about what type of reading students are exposed to in their environments. By knowing what is in a child's environment, a teacher can use familar items to bridge the way toward literacy. The familar is usually a good starting place for learning. The teacher can also use this knowledge to fill in any gaps.

Taylor, D & Dorsey-Gaines, C. (1988). Growing up literate: learning from inner-city families. Portsmouth, NH:Heinemann.