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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Teaching Strategies to Develop Inquiry and Literacy Skills: Languaging in Foreign Language Immersion Education

  • Author(s): Husbye, Nicholas
  • Dorner, Lisa M.
  • et al.

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One-way, or foreign language, immersion schools face unique challenges as they seek to support the literacy development of their students. This manuscript draws on sociocultural theories of literacy development and the concept of languaging, the process of using language to make meaning. Working with two classrooms over one semester, we asked: How were fifth-grade students using language to make meaning and develop new skills during literacy activities? Where and when did students apply their learning? Teaching the strategies in English, the authors posit, provided students with moments of languaging, or talk about language, that allowed them to transfer certain strategies to target language instruction. Examples from our work demonstrate how explicit languaging about literacy strategies in English helped students to develop new research skills, which they later applied to inquiry projects completed in their school’s immersion language. However, while we witnessed students’ languaging in reference to literacy strategies, we rarely observed translanguaging, or students drawing upon their range of linguistic repertoires (English, Spanish, Bosnian, African American vernacular, and so on) to make meaning. We conclude by highlighting the potential of languaging to develop new literacy skills in language immersion education, as well as the need for future research on translanguaging in such contexts.

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