Initial Literacy Teaching of Indigenous Children: Designing Pedagogy for Urban Schools

Initial Literacy Teaching of Indigenous Children: Designing Pedagogy for Urban Schools

Mayara Priscila Reis da Costa, Íris Susana Pires Pereira, Silvia Lopes da Silva Macedo
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2722-1.ch022
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This chapter presents a pedagogical design for the language and literacy learning of indigenous children within mainstream non-indigenous schools in the municipality of Oiapoque, located in the Federal State of Amapá, Brazil. It describes the linguistic and cultural diversity that characterizes the area followed by the outline of the key tenets underpinning the educational policy that frames language and initial literacy education in indigenous communities. The chapter then problematizes the case of migrant indigenous children in urban schools, where there is no specific legal protection for their linguistic and literacy education. In response to this shortcoming, authors present a culturally and linguistically sustaining pedagogy based on the Linguistically Appropriate Practice method, aimed at guiding teachers to educate these children to become bilingual and proud of their cultural heritage. The design is innovative in the context of its application in Brazil and of potential relevance for similar contexts worldwide.
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Theoretical Background

Language(s), cultural identities, and pedagogy stand out as cornerstone themes in the scholarship of literacy education for indigenous children. In our opinion, these are also inescapable dimensions when envisioning the education of the indigenous children who move to urban, mainstream classrooms. In the sections below, we discuss these themes in order to frame the presentation of the design for a culturally sustaining and multimodal literacy pedagogy for indigenous children in non-indigenous schools.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Multilingualism: Individual knowledge of two or more languages; coexistence of more than one linguistic tradition within the same social context.

Linguistically Appropriate Practice (LAP): An inclusive approach to the special educational needs of immigrant and displaced children, sensitive to the needs of both home and school. It envisions children as bilinguals who require a dual approach to language and literacy education.

Mother Tongue (MT): (also referred to as First Language (L1)): The language system that the speaker is exposed to early in life and the one which triggered their language acquisition process. It is the language routinely used in most non-formal situations and the one from which an ethnolinguistic identity develops.

Multimodal communication: Communication that employs multiple semiotic modes, such as oral and written verbal language, static and moving image, sound, music, gesture, and sculpture, to represent meanings.

Dynamic Bilingualism: Linguistic practice that reflects the continuously changing role of languages within multilingual contexts and multimodal communication.

Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy (CSP): Student-centered pedagogy aimed at fostering flexible, fluid and critical multicultural and multilingual identities of diverse students.

Heritage Language (HL): The community’s ethnocultural language, which may not be the child's MT.

Second Language (L2): The language system acquired/learned with a certain delay relative to the MT, irrespective of other contextual factors. Second language offers non-native speakers the means for communication and socialization in contexts where some other language is dominant.

Language of Schooling: The language system used as the vehicle in the educative process, the one taught as dominant, and the one in charge of facilitating progression across the curriculum.

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