Developing young children’s biliteracy through translanguaging and multimodal instruction
The population of emergent bilinguals (EBs) in public schools is constantly increasing in the United States. According to 2019 statistics, EBs represented 10.4% of the total school population or 5.1 million students (NCES National Center for Education Statistics, 2022). The educational community needs to develop innovative practices that take into account EBs' linguistic and cultural strengths to provide them academic experiences that enrich their learning. Past research illustrates that pedagogical approaches based on translanguaging and multimodalities show much promise. This multiple case study aimed to develop an in-depth understanding (Yin, 2018) of how EBs utilize their linguistic repertoire (García & Wei, 2014) and various multimodalities to support and develop their biliteracy in Spanish and English. The early childhood participants were exposed to translanguaging spaces and multimodal pedagogies while they conducted individual investigations using traditional and digital expository text. A critical lens to instruction and language practices supports the theoretical framework of this study. Data analysis indicates that EBs can effectively use their linguistic repertoire to talk and read in English and Spanish. The results also show that EBs use both languages when sharing their research through speaking and writing. Regarding the use of multimodalities, three main findings emerged from the data. First, EBs use illustrations and voice commands to support comprehension and representation of the text. Second, EBs use digital modalities and resources to create bilingual digital texts. Finally, results suggest that EBs prefer to use digital modes over print or traditional modes when conducting and sharing their investigations. The results of this study should be considered to guide policy and instructional practices to promote biliteracy development through the use of innovative teaching translanguaging and multimodality practices.