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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: Early Literacy in all-Irish Immersion Primary Schools: A micro-ethnographic case study of storybook reading events in Irish and English
Author(s): Ó Cathalláin, Seán
Supervisor(s): Johnstone, Emeritus Professor Richard
Mannion, Dr Greg
Keywords: early literacy, immersion education, literacy practices, literacy events, storybook reading, identity, bilingual, bilingual reader, micro-ethnography, discourse analysis
Issue Date: 30-Sep-2011
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This thesis examines ways in which literacy practices are shaped by local norms in all-Irish immersion schools, as evidenced in storybook reading events in Irish and English. Within a sociocultural framing, the thesis takes as presuppositions that (i) reading is not a set of autonomous, transferable skills but is embedded in social settings; (ii) contexts and literacy practices co-emerge; (iii) children learn ways of being readers through participation in classroom literacy events; and (iv) language, literacy and identity are inextricably linked in all-Irish immersion programmes. In a classroom the teacher and pupils co-construct their own particular models, understandings, and definitions of literacy through their actions and the events they engage in. In the present study literacy is theorized as a performative accomplishment co-constructed by the participants in the event including those not directly present such as authors and illustrators. A micro-ethnographic case study approach was used to examine literacy practices in infant classes in all-Irish schools. Taking a phenomenological approach data were gathered using video-recording, observation, and pupil and teacher interviews and data were analysed using inductive analysis and interpretive discourse analysis. Key findings from the study are that (1) local norms, filtered through teachers' intentions and motivations, shaped the storybook reading events; (2) classroom literacy practices constructed during the Irish events were being transferred to the English events; and (3) children selected from their first and second language linguistic resources during storybook reading events to support their reading development. These three processes together were part of how children negotiated their socially situated identities as bilinguals and bilingual readers. Parental support for speaking Irish as well as social proximity to the Gaeltacht community, were factors closely associated with positive attitudes to speaking Irish and to reading in Irish. One implication of the findings is that teachers in all-Irish schools will need to make explicit their views of knowledge and of what it means to be a reader in an all-Irish school as they consider young children's agency in constructing their interpretations of texts.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Education

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