chapter  5
Diverse Literacy Practices among Asian Populations: Implications for Theory and Pedagogy
ByALAN HIRVELA
Pages 28

Stephen Kucer (2005) has observed that “Regardless of where one teaches, bilingual learners are sitting in our classrooms” (p. 13). In the North American context that is the focus of this chapter, many of those learners are Asian, especially Chinese and Korean students. Being bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural to one degree or another, they experience literacy learning differently than the mainstream students in North American classrooms. Their constellation of “bi-ness” characteristics affords them unique access to literacy resources, but also presents them, and their teachers and families, with unique challenges with respect to their literacy (and biliteracy) development. As Li (2006a) explains,

For second language learners, who work in two cultural worlds, the process of acquiring a language(s) may involve the intersection of multiple/different cultural values and beliefs and multiple contexts of socialization. For such learners, language practices do not exist in isolation from each other, just as cultures and communities do not exist as discrete entities, but rather interact with each other in various degrees of complementarity or conflict. (p. 358)

In this chapter I explore a select sampling of recent literacy-based research on Asian populations in North America in an effort to draw attention to what we now know and are theorizing about the world of literacy as it is experienced by these populations and what this knowledge signifies with respect to future directions for theory, pedagogy, and research about them. In operational terms, I treat literacy more conventionally as reading and writing, with a particular focus on writing, but not strictly in the context of school-based literacy acquisition. What happens to these learners outside school is as important as what takes place in school with respect to literacy development.