Plurilingual and Literacy Competencies in Preschool: Migrants' Picture Books as an Intercultural Material

Plurilingual and Literacy Competencies in Preschool: Migrants' Picture Books as an Intercultural Material

María Victoria Guadamillas Gómez (University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4670-3.ch005
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This chapter describes a didactic proposal with the main goal of introducing plurilingual and literacy competencies in early school years. Furthermore, the chapter offers a linguistic and intercultural analysis of two picture books that can be used at preschool to promote L2 learning and cultural awareness. Firstly, the legislation regarding preschool is commented on and related to L2 development and acquisition at this stage. Then secondly, children's literature is regarded as an intercultural vehicle and connected to “culture” in a preschool content and language integrated learning (CLIL) setting. Thirdly, two picture books are analysed with respect to their potential as language learning materials and cultural triggers, and finally, some brief reflections are made.
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Preschool Education is not compulsory in Spain and other European countries. However, more than seventy per cent of countries (including Spain) have regulations which are similar to those established for other levels of formal education, such as primary or secondary education. More precisely, according to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Report) 2017, schooling starts at the age of 3 in Hungary and at 4 in Luxembourg, Northern Ireland, and Cyprus. In the rest of the United Kingdom (Scotland, Wales and England), as well as in other countries such as Belgium, the Czech Republic, Latvia, The Netherlands and Austria, school is compulsory from the age of 5. In Spain obligatory schooling starts at 6 year, but the country has almost reached full-schooling in the previous non-compulsory stage (4 to 6 years). In fact, a report by the Ministry of Education published in 2019 stated that 96.3% of students attend school by 3 and 97.1% by the time they are 4.

The European Union believes that this schooling stage is of vital importance, since it helps to develop later skills and competencies. In fact, preschool education is considered to be an integral part of lifelong learning as well as a guarantee of a positive school performance in later educational stages and of academic success. In this regard, the Council of Europe Recommendations state that PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) or PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) reports attach better results in literacy skills and mathematics to those students who attended preschool education (Council of Europe Recommendations of 22 May 2019). Furthermore, the European Union relates this school stage to the development of the competencies included in the document ‘Key Competencies for Lifelong Learning’ (2019). In particular, it highlights literacy and multilingual competencies and how this stage helps develop them both. The document also addresses other competencies, such as digital learning, cultural and expressive awareness or citizenship and how they can all start to be developed at early school stages.

Spanish legislation refers to preschool education as well, focusing on aspects such as the introduction to reading, L2 learning and artistic expression. Moreover, taking into account the previous ideas exposed by the European Union relating to physical, affective, social and intellectual development, the LOMCE 8/2013 and LOE 2/2006 regulations adopt principles related to appropriate growth in the aforementioned areas. Thus, aspects such as self-knowledge and social knowledge, paying attention to shaping respectful behaviour or affective development and peaceful resolutions of conflicts are considered, together with literacy and numeracy competencies.

However, apart from what is included in national or regional documents, the concept of literacy should be regarded as a wider competence according to the Key Competence for Lifelong Learning document (2019). In this document, literacy competence is understood in a wider sense as the ability “to identify, understand, express, create, and interpret concepts, feelings, facts and opinions in both oral and written forms, using visual, sound/audio and digital materials across disciplines and contexts” (2019, 6). Thus, creativity and appropriateness are considered in order to communicate effectively, depending on the level and context. The previous definition goes beyond the ability to read and write that we have traditionally attached to this competence.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Migrants: A human being who changes their place of usual residence, setting temporarily or permanently elsewhere. The movement can be an internal phenomenon, or an external one when long distances and different countries are involved in the process.

Storytelling: An ancient socio-cultural activity of sharing stories.

Picture Books: A visual form of art that combines pictures and text that narrate together the story.

Intercultural Education: A type of education that promotes the respect towards any type of difference between human beings, and celebrates the wide diversity of people and cultures.

Didactic Proposal: An elaboration of a planning or scheme designed to structure the objectives and contents of a subject. These objectives are attained with the posterior transmission of knowledge in class following a particular methodology/ methodologies or teaching approach. The didactic proposal refers also to the forms of assessment of that content.

Literacy Competence: The mastering of oral and written skills as for instance reading, writing, and other subskills such as the understanding and expression ideas and opinions, the solving of problems, the making of decision, etc. using multimodal instruments.

Plurilingual Competence: An ability of the human being to use languages purposefully and proficiently in different communicative situations.

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