Development of Multiliteracies: Bilingual Students’ Literacy Learning in an After-School Program

Submitted by: Hengyi Liu
Abstract: This ethnographic study reports on an after-school program in Massachusetts that incorporates different genres of multiliteracies such as social media and Hip-Hop production. Through an on-going nine-month investigation it considers implications for the literacy development of young bilingual students in an after-school setting. The after-school program takes place in a regional public middle school and is structured to offer enrichment activities and popular literacies to develop students’ ability to more critically read their world (Freire & Macedo, 1987). The program welcomes bilingual students and gives them the opportunity to share their stories with the local community by video-recording events, taking pictures, producing newsletters and self-reflecting on special experiences. This ethnographic study uses qualitative methods including participant observation, interviews, the collection and analysis of students’ artifacts. For all of the data collected, the researcher uses open coding for repeating, emergent themes and argues that bilingual students develop literacy in both their first language and English from every aspect of their entire learning experience, not simply from schooling. The article contributes to our understanding that formed and transformed identities, socially and culturally situated learning, and skills used in the production of meaning are major factors that influence bilingual students’ literacy development in an after-school setting.

Freire, P., & Macedo, D. (1987). Literacy: Reading the word and the world. Massachusetts: Bergin & Garvey Publishers, INC.