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Manchester Institute of Education

Rebecca Phillips

Previous education / experience

  • MA New Literacies, University of Sheffield, 2008-2010, Distinction

Thesis title

Relationships between the home and school literacy practices of Somali children in year one of primary education 

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Research details

My PhD research investigates the relationship between home and school literacy practices for a group of Somali children in year 1 of primary education, all of whom are growing up in multilingual families. Throughout this research, literacy is regarded as plural and the term ‘literacy practices’ refers to all types of communicative practices in which language is used to convey meaning. Engagement with home and community literacy practices is a vital part of the development of young multilingual children. Families and communities provide invaluable support for language development and literacy learning in many different ways, however, these are not formally recognised in detail in the recent Early Years Foundation Stage Framework or the National Curriculum guidelines for English. This research investigates how literacy is valued in the domains of home and school and focuses on language and literacy learning across the home-school boundary.

The research has been designed in two phases. Phase one is concerned with creating opportunities for dialogue between the home and school, focusing on the manner in which young Somali children learn to read, write and communicate in different languages. It will use data initiated in the home through participatory photography and focus interviews to identify the types of language and literacy practices children regularly engage with in the home domain. The intention is to highlight some of the multiple literacy practices occurring in Somali children’s homes and raise awareness of these in the school. Phase two is concerned with re-contextualising these practices at school. It will focus on opportunities for incorporating and recreating literacy practices occurring in homes into the year one literacy curriculum. The aim of combining practices in this manner is to facilitate the emergence of new practices in the school, making use of knowledge gained from the home. I will consider the practices which emerge as ‘hybrid practices’. Creating a ‘third space’ for collaboration through dialogue between the home and the school, in which the findings of phase one can be discussed and developed, will contribute to the manner in which school practices can be re-designed in order to support the literacy and language learning of children from multilingual Somali families. 

Research interests

  • Multilingualism
  • primary education
  • new literacies
  • home and community literacies
  • boundary crossing
  • photo-elicitation

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