Literacy in the Making of Multilingual Education: Sociolinguistic Ethnographic Perspectives
Yonas Mesfun Asfaha

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



College of Arts & Social Sciences, Eritrea

Primary Discipline

Literacy and/or English/Language Education
Literacy is deeply rooted in the social and cultural practices of communities and manifestations of this are particularly vivid in multilingual contexts where unequal power relations between language groups reveal themselves in unequal access to literacy resources. Inequalities are reinforced in the daily cycles of life in classrooms and in the ways in which texts are mediated by teachers in bilingual interactions with learners. This study is situated in multilingual Eritrea, where nine languages and three scripts are used in primary education and where the teaching of initial literacy and classroom talk about texts has been shaped by specific historical, social and ideological processes. My research traces the historical development of multilingual education in this context and describes the contemporary social uses of written language and provides an account of language and literacy attitudes. It investigates the ways in which different language and literacy ideologies are articulated in classroom discourse and the ways in which these ideologies are bound up with the construction of cultural difference. Drawing on different strands of research in sociolinguistics, the study also answers recent calls for a narrowing of the gap between classroom-based research on literacy and studies of literacy in a wider social context.
About Yonas Mesfun Asfaha

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