Language and Literacy

Language and Literacy



Language and Literacy

The Impact of Culture and Home Language on the Literacy Development of Children

            It is important for educators to understand how children develop their literacy skills so that they can provide the appropriate support and guidance to aid this growth. Most children start developing their literacy at a very young age (Shuker, 2013). Normally, this happens when the children start encountering different kinds of print. The fact that we all live in a community enriched with various kinds of printed works, means that most children will come across this material on a daily basis. As soon as children understand the value of reading and writing, they are likely to develop an interest in the two activities (Shuker, 2013). It is important for educators and parents to take advantage of this curiosity and start teaching children these skills at the earliest possible point (Council of Australian Governments, 2009). Culture and home language are two very important variables involved in the development of a child’s literacy. This is evidenced by the fact that children develop their identities within the perspectives of their families and ethnicities.

            The culture of a people contains all of the knowledge, perceptions and attitudes that they have attained through time. This combined knowledge is imprinted in a child’s environment through the behaviour and practices of the young person’s family (Cole, Hakkarainen, Bredikyte, 2010). Because of this, culture bears a large influence on the way that children view and understand the world. The understanding of certain cultural aspects of human life such as symbols, practices and goals is a very basic element of early learning. It is through this connection between culture and learning that children start to develop their literacy based on how they ways of their people reflect in them (Cole et al., 2010). Some researchers argue that children are born with an understanding of the tune of their indigenous language. Educators can exploit this basic understanding to help enhance the literacy development of their children (Cole et al., 2010.

            One important link between culture and literacy development comes through comprehension. Comprehension refers to a reader’s ability to create mental images of the content that they are reading (Westby, 2005). This is critical to a person’s ability to make sense of the things that they read. Comprehension in children is intricately linked to their culture, because the mental images that they create are connected to the way that their cultural values and beliefs (Westby, 2005). This connection can be used to increase the pace at which children develop their literacy.  

            There are certain resources that parents and educators can exploit to help the children as they undergo literacy development. One example of such resources is Information and Communication Technology. ICT resources have become an integral part of human life and it is highly unlikely that their importance will wane anytime soon (Andrews, 2004). The fact that they have become an aspect of human culture, particularly in the developed world, means that they can be useful resources for use in helping enhance the literacy development of children (UNESCO, 2006). Studies conducted have shown that computer assisted instruction could be an invaluable resource in the process of helping children develop their phonological awareness (a person’s understanding of the sound structure of spoken words) (UNESCO, 2006). Exposing children to computers and laptops at home could help them develop an interest in the devices. This would then make it possible for both educators and parents to use the devices to teach children and grow their literacy.

            Another resource that can help develop a child’s literacy is the library. Since children start to grow their literacy skills at a young age, it is important to exploit this early development and expose them to different kinds of texts when they are young. The library can provide parents with a wide choice of books from which they can select texts that match their child’s stage of development. Parents can use these books to help children learn how to read at a tender age, giving them an upper hand when they start attending school (Foster, 2008). In addition to develop the literacy of children, parents can also use library resources to grow the knowledge of their young ones.

            It is important for parents to be actively involved in the development of their children’s literacy. This is because children spend a lot of time with their parents, meaning that this involvement can help increase the pace at which they learn. One way that parents can engage their children to help develop their literacy is by talking to them (Wells, 2009). Scientists have uncovered a strong correlation between the ease and speed of literacy development in children and the amount of time that adults around the children engaged them in conversation. If a child’s parents, family and relatives constantly engage him or her in conversation, then the child is more likely to develop good literary skills at a young age (Wells, 2009).

SMART Targets for Developing my Personal Literacy

            My first SMART target is to increase the number of texts that I read within a month as a way of growing my literacy. This is because scientists have found extensive reading to have a direct correlation to a person’s comprehension of various texts, implying that it is one of the best ways to improve literacy (Foster, 2008). My ability to understand complex titles and text will be the evidence that my strategy is working. This means that the best way to check whether the increased reading is helping grow my literacy skills will be to have somebody test my comprehension of different books through written reviews. The importance of this task comes from the fact that it will help grow my writing skills as well as expand my knowledge. The target that I have set for myself within this activity is to read a new book every week.

            Another SMART target is to join a book club as a way of increasing my involvement in literary enhancing activities. Scientists argue that the close reading of texts is a good way of growing a person’s literacy skills (Foster, 2008). Joining a book club will help meet other people who are interested in reading and analysing various titles. Most book clubs meet at least once a week and a person can mark the progress of their reading by looking at the number of texts that they read in a month. The easiest way to join a book club would be through the internet and the fact that they meet weekly means that it would be easy to participate fully without disrupting my regular schedule.

            My last SMART target is to use ICT resources to grow my literacy skills by testing myself weekly as a way of measuring my development. ICT resources have made it possible for anyone to get access to the internet. I can use the internet to test myself and gauge whether the extensive reading is bearing fruit in my literacy skills. The tests are readily available on several websites and they are a good way of measuring the development of my literacy skills (Chen, 2008).

Reflection on my Personal Literacy

            My role as an educator means that my personal literacy shares an intricate link with the development of children under my care, with regards to reading and writing. Firstly, it is imperative that I improve my own literacy skills in preparation for the work that I will be doing with the children. Of the three goals that I have outlined above, the issue of using ICT skills to develop my own literacy is quite important because I can use a similar technique with the children. The fact that educators can ICT resources to develop the literacy skills that children have means that it is important for teachers to understand how to use the resources. This will make it easier for them to teach using the resources and for the students to learn.

            My position as an educator also means that the children I deal with are likely to learn from my behaviour as well as my instructions. Children learn a lot from impressionable figures around them and as an educator, it is likely that some of the learners that I deal with will discover new things by interacting with me. By developing good reading practices, I can become a good role model for the children to follow. My actions could inspire the children and help to make them avid readers. As the children strive to develop good reading practices, I can help them by providing them with guidance and motivation. The development of good reading practices is critical to the growth of the children’s literacy and my position as a role model may be critical to this progress.  

            The process of motivating and guiding children as they develop a reading culture should also involve their parents or guardians. The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) guide explains that respectful relationships between educators and the children’s families are an important aspect of the development of young persons (Council of Australian Governments, 2010). Cultural competence is one way of creating these relationships. After the relationships have been built, I can apply my personal knowledge as an educator to try to help children develop good reading practices, by utilizing their families as the main influences.

            For an educator, cultural competence also becomes important when a person is dealing with children from diverse backgrounds. The EYLF guide refers to cultural competence as a learning process that emphasizes strong relationships between educators, the community, children, their families and other organization involved in the process such as the school (Council of Australian Governments, 2010). Considering how important it is to develop this cultural competence, I can use my reading exercises to expand my knowledge of the different communities that I will be dealing. This will make it easier for me to deal with the children and their families, while also helping me meet some of the goals that I set with regard to my literacy development.


Andrews, R. (2004). The impact of ICT on literacy education. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Chen, C.T. (2008). The effectiveness of incorporating the Internet to improve literacy skills of English language learners. Retrieved from ProQuest Digital Dissertations. (UMI 3352066).

Cole, M., Hakkarainen, P. & Bredikyte, M. (2010). Culture and early childhood learning. In Centre for Excellence for Early Childhood Development (Ed.) Encyclopaedia on Early Childhood Development, (34-40). Montreal: Centre for Excellence for Early Childhood Development

Council of Australian Governments (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia. Barton: Commonwealth of Australia.

Council of Australian Governments. (2010). Educators: Belonging, being and becoming. Barton: Commonwealth of Australia.

Foster, G. (2008). Working together to improve literacy: How to set goals, implement, and assess school-wide reading and writing initiatives. Markham, Ont: Pembroke Publishers.

Shuker, M.J. & Terreni, L. (2013). Self-authored e-books: Expanding young children’s literacy experiences and skills. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 38 (3), 17-24.

UNESCO. (2006). Using ICT to develop literacy. Bangkok: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Wells, G. (2009). The social context of language and literacy development. In Handbook of child development and early education: Research to practice (Eds.) O.A. Barbarin & B.H. Wasik. New York: Guilford Press.

Westby, C. (2005). Language, culture and literacy. Retrieved from

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