Emergent Literacy Spectrum of Bilingual Children in India


Series: Languages and Linguistics

BISAC: LAN010000
DOI: 10.52305/EXFV4454

“Quality of Education” is the buzz word that one keeps hearing across the globe. One can never undermine the fact that the quality of education can be enhanced only when we gain knowledge of the underlying skills that help children to be literate. Even today, education of children has been viewed within the framework of the school curriculum which is neither true nor fair. Pratham, a non-governmental organization has proved beyond doubt that children begin to learn literacy skills much before formal schooling. Pratham’s preschool package for 3 to 5 year- old is based on themes from the child’s immediate environment. The program also has the end goal of preparing children with enough school readiness skills so that the transition to schools will be a smooth and easy experience. In my opinion, the Monograph on Emergent Literacy Spectrum of Bilingual Children in India is the right piece of work at the most appropriate time. The Monograph opens up a vista of thoughts, research questions, ideas, and activities for educational practice in both monolingual and bilingual contexts. Since bilingual children are facilitated in their cognitive development, the thrust given by the author to the spectrum of skills should be taken into cognizance by the educational authorities, teachers, professionals, and parents. I wish there would be more books in the future to gear up our focus on Quality of Education, RPwD Act, and NEP, 2020. –  Padmini, T. PhD, (Former) Emeritus Professor of Education, Department of Studies in Education, University of Mysore, Mysore, India

Literacy is an individual’s ability to read and write. The complexities of skills required to be literate raise an intriguing question: “how does one become literate?” Literacy skills emerge during early childhood (known as emergent literacy) and lead a child towards the path of reading. Many precursors such as oral language skills, phonological awareness skills, and written language (print) awareness skills facilitate the development of emergent literacy. The subcomponents within each of these precursors have a very intricate relationship with one another. The attempts made over the last few decades to understand the components of literacy, the stages of literacy acquisition in children, and literacy failure in school children are evident in research reports, but the focus appears to be skewed towards monolingual children. As a result, a void exists when one encounters a bilingual child for assessment. However, studies from linguistically diverse countries in recent years highlight the differences in early literacy behaviors of monolingual children and bilingual children. As a consequence, the knowledge gap is slowly narrowing to recognize the emergent literacy spectrum in bilingual children who are known to have cognitive advantages. Since cognition, language, and literacy fall on a continuum, there are bound to be advantages for bilingual/multilingual children in the development of early literacy behaviors. The available information supports the idea of cognitive benefits derived through exposure to languages, emphasizing that communication is more important than the specific linguistic units used by the teachers.

Emergent Literacy Spectrum of Bilingual Children in India describes the concepts, components, and dimensions of literacy and emergent literacy; bilingualism; language and script–diaspora in the Indian context; the continuum of language and literacy; language policy for education in India; challenges for identification, assessment, and promotion of emergent literacy skills in India; and typical examples in Indian languages with research evidence for understanding the spectrum of emergent literacy in bilingual children. A theoretical rationale is given for each of the concepts followed by simple descriptions, examples, and illustrations. The book provides crucial knowledge and useful tips for professionals, teachers, and informed parents in their teaching-learning activities with children. Researchers may explore the ideas discussed in the monograph by pursuing studies to augment our knowledge of the acquisition of literacy in bilingual children.

The author’s many years of experience as a speech-language pathologist in the Indian subcontinent suggests that there is scanty information on emergent literacy in Indian bilingual children. Several interactions held with professionals and preschool teachers during workshops and seminars have indicated that there is a great need to enhance the knowledge base on emergent/early literacy, its development, and the likelihood of failures in literacy acquisition in children. The publication is useful to all professionals working with young children, educational administrators as well as policymakers.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



Chapter 1. Literacy, Emergent Literacy and Bilingualism

Chapter 2. South-Asian Subcontinent: India

Chapter 3. Spectrum of Language-Literacy Continuum in Bilingual Children

Chapter 4. Summing up…

About the Editor




“Significant development across the globe is a matter of pride for all human beings. It is beyond doubt that for all these developments, the crucial factor is literacy. It is my conviction that literacy enhancement in children lays a strong foundation for a productive world. My service for nearly four decades as Itinerant Speech Therapist liaising between institutional-based professionals as well as community-level functionaries left me in a lurch for want of an introductory book on emergent literacy. I had shared my thoughts with Dr. Prema Rao, who judiciously considered writing a Monograph on emergent literacy. The Monograph, in addition to the description of different phases of emergent literacy, brings out the spectrum of skills that emerge in bilingual children drawing support from research. The reader-friendly writing style, sections focused on specific themes augmented with relevant diagrams hold the attention of readers. I sincerely hope and wish that the readers make the best use of information and resources available in the Monograph to facilitate literacy development in children.” – Ms. Indira Nair, Graduate in Speech and Hearing, (Former) Itinerant Speech Therapist, All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Manasagangothri, Mysore, India

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