Early Years Literacy: Analysis and Development Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Introduction

The present project aims at analysing literacy practices and develop the perception of literacy as a socially situated practice. Literacy may be defined as the individual’s ability to read and write. In the paper, the 3D model of literacy introduced by Green (2012) will be largely employed. Specific emphasis in developing literacy is made in relation to early education since teachers play a crucial role in promoting young learners’ reading and writing skills. In this respect, attention should be paid to social relationships. Social development of a child can be fostered not only in families but also in classrooms, where children communicate with peers (“Learning in personal and social capability,” n.d.).

Hence, it is of utmost importance to pay thorough attention to the development of literacy skills at schools in different dimensions. The paper consists of three major parts: a description of a literacy event in which I participated, a detailed analysis of all the aspects of the event, implications for teaching, and a conclusion. The analysis of the literacy event will be based on Green’s (2012) 3D model involving operational, cultural, and critical dimensions. The analysis of the event will promote a clearer understanding of the approaches needed to apply in my teaching practice.

Details of the Literacy Event

The Description of the Event Observed

The event that I am going to analyse is a conversation over dinner with several friends. This is an example of socially situated literacy practice since we were communicating in a friendly atmosphere, sharing our opinions on some issues, and speaking about misunderstandings that emerged during the conversation. The purpose of the event was exchanging thoughts on the current protests in Hong King that are focused on the government’s intention to implement the extradition bill. Last week, I invited three of my friends, one from Hong Kong (called B) and two from mainland China (called C and D) to have dinner together in a Korean restaurant.

Together, there four participants of the social situation: three of my friends and me. There were different positions taken by the interlocutors, but this fact did not prevent us from having a polite talk. On the contrary, due to divergences in our views, we were able to have a lively discussion where each of us could express one’s point and argue why he or she considered it to be the best solution.

The Analysis of the Event

Green’s (2012) 3D model of literacy consists of three elements: operational, critical, and cultural. All of the three dimensions are equally significant, and each of them is interrelated with the other two (Scull, Nolan, & Raban, 2013).

The philosophy on which the model is based presupposes that teaching skills and techniques of literacy without arranging an authentic context is wrong and not productive. Thus, the 3D model may be considered as a lens through which the process of learning is viewed (Scull et al., 2013). An important element of teaching and analysing literacy is incorporating critical literacy, which is a framework that helps learners to take control over their lives and change the world surrounding them (Hall & Piazza, 2010). Hence, the 3D framework for teaching and learning literacy will be employed to analyse the socially situated literacy event in which I participated.

The operational dimension

The operational dimension, which is also referred to as the “language” dimension, concentrates on generating the competence and skills necessary to operate the language system well (Scull et al., 2013, p. 39). Specifically, this part of the 3D model involves the knowledge of the alphabet, letter recognition, the formation and functions of phonemes and graphemes, and the basics of writing skills.

The operational element, thus, concentrates on establishing an understanding of the language’s semiotic system (Scull et al., 2013). When analysing my literacy event, it is necessary to note that our conversation was held in Mandarin. Although one of my friends and I are from Hong Kong, and our primary language is Cantonese, we could easily understand the other two friends since we had studied Mandarin in primary and secondary school. Despite not knowing Mandarin perfectly, we were able to lead the conversation since the basic language units employed in it were known to us. For instance, we all knew how to say “extradition bill,” “democracy,” “free Hong Kong,” “to condemn,” and other keywords present in the conversation.

Hence, it is viable to say that I was able to decode the message expressed by every participant of the event. We had the necessary level of technical competence to support the conversation despite differences in language priorities. Such a development of the situation was possible due to early literacy skills development at primary school and their further development at secondary school. According to the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) (2016), children should be guided and trained to become effective communicators.

The Victorian Curriculum states that it is necessary to educate learners on the diversity of languages and culture (“Learning in personal and social capability,” n.d.). Having analysed the development of my event, it is possible to conclude that each of the participants was brought up and educated with the consideration of these aspects. Therefore, all of the interlocutors had mastered the operational dimension due to the efforts taken by their educators in the early years of school.

The cultural dimension

Unlike the operational dimension, the critical one is concentrated on making meaning of the text (Scull et al., 2013). This element of the 3D framework presupposes “manipulating texts in authentic contexts” (Scull et al., 2013, p. 40). Therefore, when analysing this dimension, it is necessary to evaluate how the text is understood in relation to context. Additionally, the critical approach involves the ability to employ a variety of genres and gain various objectives. Hence, this dimension incorporates both direct and indirect meanings of language units and is present in situations where people communicate with others and take part in various events (Scull et al., 2013). Taking into consideration these aspects, it is viable to conclude that my event contained the cultural dimension.

First of all, there was an argument at the core of our meeting. Specifically, we argued about the attitude toward Hong Kong protests happening currently. Friends C and D, who are from mainland China, could not understand why I and friend B, who are from Hong Kong, supported the protest. C and D thought that Hong Kong citizens wanted to become independent from China and said that the police did a good job in suppressing the protests.

Meanwhile, my friend B and I explained to C and D that the question was not about independence but about the withdrawal of the extradition bill. We also had to explain to them that watching the news issue from only one country’s (China’s) point was not a good decision since such news would most certainly be biased. To understand the situation most comprehensively, one needs to be aware of different source of information and different opinions. Unfortunately, friends C and D were so biased in their decisions that they could not easily agree with our sober-minded arguments.

Although we experienced some misunderstanding, my friend B and I could see why friends C and D had such a type of thinking, and we decided to show respect toward everyone’s view and stopped arguing. Analysing the event through the cultural dimension of the 3D model, it becomes evident that people from different countries and with different backgrounds are highly unlikely to view the same situation similarly. Even if individuals legally are from the same country, but have different legislative systems, their lifestyles and cultures are rather dissimilar. Additionally, the event helped me to see that it is crucial to have a critical opinion on any situation and analyse it from different angles rather than be prejudiced based on only one source of information.

The critical dimension

The critical element of the framework presupposes that a learner is able to make relevant judgments of the language situation. That is, an individual is expected to analyse and appreciate actions with the help of acquired discursive skills (Scull et al., 2013). This dimension presupposes the ability to scrutinise and critique the information presented in the text. Additionally, the critical approach includes the ability to make judgments about social skills and beliefs of others (Scull et al., 2013). To operate this element effectively, one may need to consider why the other person is making particular emphases or what has brought about specific viewpoints.

In my literacy event, there are two contrasting viewpoints: that of mine and friend B’s (Hong Kong citizens) and that of friends C and D (Chinese). Having worked as a social worker in Australia for a long time, I realise that the freedom of speech and human rights are of utmost importance for everyone. Hence, I support Hong Kong protesters since these people risk losing their human rights in case the extradition bill is ratified. However, I can also understand the standpoint of my Chinese friends since they lack access to authentic sources of information.

Implications for Teaching

Having analysed the literacy situation thoroughly, I can draw connections and outline implications for my teaching practice. First of all, the out-of-school literacy event helped me realise the significance of training skills since an early age. In this respect, it is necessary to pay more attention to instructing children on phonics since they seem to be one of the core problems causing difficulties in reading (Gee, 2004). Additionally, it is important to instruct young children on letter awareness, phonology, and oral reading (Stahl, 2011). These skills will be useful to manage the operational dimension correctly. While there exists a gap in literacy achievement between children from socially and economically vulnerable groups, it is crucial to detect literacy difficulties at a very young age and manage them at the earliest stage of literacy education (MacDonald & Figueredo, 2010).

Souto-Manning (2009) emphasises the role of a multicultural approach to teaching literacy in cultivating cultural responsiveness in children. All of these skills will be needed to participate in classroom teaching and learning effectively.

I understood how important it was to respect other people’s opinions, and I intend to teach my pupils to do so. Additionally, the literacy event helped me to understand what strategies students needed to analyse texts and interpret the underlying messages contained in them. Since I am concerned with early years literacy, I will employ two storybooks, All Are Welcome and Keeping Promises, to cultivate children’s mutual respect. Reading aloud to children, shared and guided reading and writing, and readers’ workshops may be helpful in the attainment of my purposes (Bruneau, 1997).

With the help of these books, I will explain how to respect people from different countries and how crucial it is to keep one’s promises. With the inquiry-based learning approach, I will encourage students to think about their prior experiences and share their feelings about not keeping their promises (McKinney, 2014). This will be used to develop the cultural dimension of the 3D framework.

Finally, training children in the critical dimension will involve their analysis of others’ actions and words (Comber, 2001; Nagy & Townsend, 2012). Work in this direction complies with the Victorian Curriculum in what concerns exploring social relationships and discerning other people’s emotional responses (VEYLDF, 2016). I also might teach children how to say “hello” in different languages and ask them to wear national costumes of different countries to promote the development of their social relationships. To enhance the critical dimension of the 3D model, I will teach pupils to treat every opinion with respect and avoid bias.

Conclusion

Teaching young children literacy skills is one of the most crucial tasks of teachers. However, it is not enough for an educator to show pupils how to discern letters and syllables. The role of the teacher is to develop learners’ literacy in three dimensions: operational, cultural, and critical. This way, every child will be able to understand the differences between various cultural, social, and language contexts and appreciate every person’s understanding of them. Green’s (2012) framework should be applied to reach the goal of holistic literacy teaching and learning. The combined approach to education will result in children’s better understanding of social, cultural, and linguistic varieties.

References

Bruneau, B. J. (1997). The literacy pyramid organization of reading/writing activities in a whole language classroom. The Reading Teacher, 51(2), 158-160.

Comber, B. (2001). Critical literacy: Power and pleasure with language in the early years. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 24(3), 168-181.

Gee, J. P. (2004). A strange fact about not learning to read. In J. P. Gee (Ed.), Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schooling (pp. 6-17). Abingdon, England: Routledge.

Green, B. (2012). Contextualisation and commentary. In B. Green & C. Beavis (Eds.), Literacy in 3D: An integrated perspective in theory and practice (pp. 22-38). Camberwell, Australia: ACER Press.

Hall, L. A., & Piazza, S. V. (2010). Engaging with critical literacy: Reflections on teaching and learning. English Journal, 99(5), 91-94.

Learning in personal and social capability. (n.d.). Web.

MacDonald, C., & Figueredo, L. (2010). Closing the gap early: Implementing a literacy intervention for at-risk kindergartners in urban schools. The Reading Teacher, 63(5), 404-419.

McKinney, P. (2014). Information literacy and inquiry-based learning: Evaluation of a five-year programme of curriculum development. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 46(2), 148-166.

Nagy, W., & Townsend, D. (2012). Words as tools: Learning academic vocabulary as language acquisition. Reading Research Quarterly, 47(1), 91-108.

Scull, J., Nolan, A., & Raban, B. (2013). Young learners: Interpreting literacy practice in the preschool years. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 36(1), 38-47.

Souto-Manning, M. (2009). Negotiating culturally responsive pedagogy through multicultural children’s literature: Towards critical democratic literacy practices in a first grade classroom. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 9(1) 50-74.

Stahl, K. A. D. (2011). Applying new visions of reading development in today’s classrooms. The Reading Teacher, 65(1), 52-56.

Victorian early years learning and development framework: For all children from birth to eight years old. (2016). Web.

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