Literacy Across Languages and Cultures

Edited by Bernardo M. Ferdman, Rose-Marie Weber, and Arnulfo G. Ramirez

Subjects: Language And Culture
Series: SUNY series, Literacy, Culture, and Learning: Theory and Practice
Paperback : 9780791418161, 350 pages, March 1994
Hardcover : 9780791418154, 350 pages, March 1994

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Table of contents

Part 1: Introduction

1. Literacy Across Languages and Cultures
Bernardo M. Ferdman and Rose-Marie Weber

Part 2: Theoretical and Research Perspectives

2. Practice-Engagement Theory: A Sociocultural Approach to Literacy Across Languages and Cultures
Stephen Reder

3. Literacy Acquisition Among Second-Language Learners
Arnulfo G. Ramirez

4. Continua of Biliteracy
Nancy H. Hornberg

Part 3: Social and Cultural Perspectives

5. Sociocultural Change Through Literacy: Toward the Empowerment of Families
Concha Delgado-Gaitan

6. "Not Joined In:" The Social Context of English Literacy Development for Hispanic Youth
Virginia Vogel Zanger

7. Literacy in the Loophole of Retreat: Harriet Jacob's Nineteenth-Century Narrative
Barbara McCaskill

8. Literacy and Social Power
Joanne Devine

9. Value and Subjectivity in Literacy Practice
Mark Zuss

10. Language and Literacy in Quebec: Exploring the Issues
Alison d'Anglejan

Part 4: Reflections

11. From Coercive to Collaborative Relations of Power in the Teaching of Literacy
Jim Cummins

Notes on Contributors



This book examines the linkage between literacy and linguistic diversity, embedding them in their social and cultural contexts. It illustrates that a more complete understanding of literacy among diverse populations and in multicultural societies requires attention to issues of literacy per se as well as to improving an educational process that has relevance beyond members of majority cultures and linguistic groups.

The focus of the book is on the social and cultural contexts in which literacy develops and is enacted, with an emphasis on the North American situation. Educators and researchers are discovering that cognitive approaches, while very valuable, are insufficient by themselves to answer important questions about literacy in heterogeneous societies. By considering the implications of family, school, culture, society, and nation for literary processes, the book answers the following questions. In a multi-ethnic context, what does it mean to be literate? What are the processes involved in becoming and being literate in a second language? In what ways is literacy in a second language similar and in what ways is it different from mother-tongue literacy? What factors must be understood to better describe and facilitate literacy acquisition among members of ethnic and linguistic minorities? What are some current approaches that are being used to accomplish this? These are vital questions for researchers and educators in a world that has a large number of immigrants, a variety of multi-ethnic and multi-lingual societies, and an increasing degree of multinational activity. Beyond addressing applied concerns, attending to these questions can provide new insights into basic aspects of literacy.

Bernardo M. Ferdman is Associate Professor at the California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego. Rose-Marie Weber is Associate Professor of Reading with joint appointment in Linguistics and Cognitive Science at State University of New York at Albany. Arnulfo G. Ramírez is Professor of Spanish and Linguistics and Chair, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge.


"This is an important, readable, and provocative view of a field that has become politically charged. It helps redirect our attention from the rhetorical flourishes to the real cultural and pedagogical issues of the topic of literacy across cultures and languages. " — Alan C. Purves, Director, Center for Writing and Literacy, State University of New York at Albany