Tracking Literacy Development in an Aboriginal Community: Summary of a Research Project

By Dunn, Myra | Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, June 1999 | Go to article overview

Tracking Literacy Development in an Aboriginal Community: Summary of a Research Project


Dunn, Myra, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy


Introduction

While literacy research in minority communities is common in other countries, research concerning urban/rural town Aboriginal people in Australia is sparse. Studies in the early 1980s by Harris (1984), Gray (1985) and later by Walton (1986) and Malin (1990) made significant contributions but did not examine literacy skills comprehensively. Not only is there little knowledge concerning literacy development and Aboriginal people in a cross-cultural sense, there is almost no research describing Aboriginal children's emergent literacy skills. The literacy studies which have been conducted tend to have looked principally at the learning styles, socio-linguistic issues and literacy skills of traditionally oriented Aboriginal people living in remote areas of Australia (Harris & Malin, 1994; Walton, 1986). What is clear, however, is that Aboriginal children are less likely to become literate than other groups in Australian society (DEETYA, 1997; DEET, 1995).

Theory and research suggest that early literacy experience has far-reaching effects on literacy competence in middle childhood and in adulthood (Altwerger, Edelsky & Flores, 1987). Sulzby (1994: p. 278) defines emergent literacy as `those reading and writing behaviours and concepts that develop into conventional literacy'. Children begin to make sense of the print which is a part of their everyday environment, employing this literacy knowledge to construct their world and engage with adults in meaningful literacy events such as storyreading and verbal interaction (Hall, 1987). Emergent literacy is a continuous process of learning increasingly complex literacy knowledge in early childhood. Knowledge of the purposes and functions of written language also depends on the quality and quantity of children's emergent literacy learning (Teale & Sulzby, 1989). The interaction between this early literacy experience and schools' performance as literacy facilitators should thus provide a clearer picture of the complex nature of literacy processes.

Evidence of literate growth shown in children who cannot yet read and write has been the subject of considerable research activity in a number of specific areas: environmental print (Goodman, 1986; Sulzby & Teale, 1991; Goodman & Goodman, 1979; Hall, 1987; and others); the alphabetic principle and decoding (Byrne, 1997; Goswami & Bryant, 1990; Tunmer, Herriman & Nesdale, 1988; Adams, 1994; Stanovich, Cunningham & Kramer, 1984; to name a few); storyreading (Harste, Woodward & Burke, 1984; Evans, 1994; Ruddell & Ruddell, 1994; Mason & Au, 1990; and many others); and home culture (Sulzby & Teale, 1991; Sulzby & Zecker, 1991; Heath, 1983; Taylor, 1983; Taylor & Dorsey-Gaines, 1988; Au, 1993, McKay, 1993; Gee, 1989; Michaels, 1991; Dunn, 1991; Chakravarti, 1990; and many others).

These areas of research revealed the following information.

1. The kinds of literacy experiences which occur between 0 and 5 years are important for later success at school.

2. Early evidence of phonemic awareness is important in becoming literate and important for literacy competence at school in later childhood.

3. Storyreading in very early childhood is related to early phonemic awareness and early literacy competence.

4. Home culture does not, in itself, prevent children from becoming literate since children become literate with comparative ease all over the world in different cultures and also in minority cultures.

Thus the literature clearly indicates that it is the social effect of being in a cultural minority which can affect the development of literacy competence. Furthermore, children from minority cultures (whose early literacy experiences are not conventional white middle-class ones) for whom schools cannot provide appropriate literacy teaching have more difficulty becoming literate.

The purpose of the study

The purpose of the research project reported here was to determine the early literacy competence that a group (N = 18) of pre-school Aboriginal children developed in a specific period of time over a range of specified literacy skills (both high-level and low-level) determined from the literature.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Tracking Literacy Development in an Aboriginal Community: Summary of a Research Project
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.