Emergent biliteracy in young Mexican immigrant children

Iliana Reyes, Patricia Azuara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


This article explores the relationship between emergent biliteracy and growing up in a biliterate environment. The study focuses on two questions: (1) What knowledge of biliteracy do young bilingual preschool children develop in the early years? (2) How do context and specific language environments influence the development of biliteracy in young Mexican Spanish-English bilingual children? The authors report data from a multiple-method research project with 12 4- and 5-year-old Mexican immigrant children living in the U.S. Southwest. Results indicated that the children were developing knowledge and metalinguistic awareness about print in both their languages; the families demonstrated a wide variety of communicative practices and ways in which they used written materials in the two languages; and intergenerational learning occurred in both directions among family members. The authors propose a model of emergent biliteracy that integrates the different cultural contexts that foster or hinder biliteracy development in the young bilingual child. The research contributes to the development of an ecological model of emergent biliteracy that recognizes the dynamic and complex interactions among home, school, and neighborhood contexts. This model serves as a heuristic device that allows researchers and teachers to consider how different linguistic and cultural spaces affect children's biliteracy development in the environments where they are growing up bilingual.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-398
Number of pages25
JournalReading Research Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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