Syncretic Literacy: Multiculturalism In Samoan American Families. [Research Report: 16]

Alessandro Duranti, Elinor Ochs

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Summary:

This report introduces the concept of syncretic literacy, an intermingling or merging of culturally diverse traditions that informs and organizes literacy activities, by examining an exchange in which a 6-year-old Samoan-American boy involved members of his extended family to complete his homework. The study illustrates how English is sometimes used in ways that are consistent with the socialization practices typical of traditional learning environment in the home country and how different family members adopt distinct cultural strategies in their interaction with the boy within the same activity. Traditional Samoan-American learning environments are described, especially in syncretic literacy instructional settings. Findings contradict two common misconceptions of multiculturalism: that language is a precise indicator of cultural orientation, and that members of multicultural communities are in one culture at a time. In this home environment, syncretic literacy accounts for the way in which a language is used for distinct cultural practices and the ways in which different cultural practices are merged within the same literacy activity. (Contains 48 references.)

 

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Bibliographic Information:

Alessandro Duranti, Elinor Ochs. Syncretic Literacy: Multiculturalism In Samoan American Families. [Research Report: 16] (1996). NCELA [National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition]: Washington, DC. (17 pages).

Sponsoring Agency: National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning

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Formats Available: Printed Material

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(No longer available. )

NCELA [National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition]
George Washington University
Center for the Study of Language and Education
Washington, DC
20037

URL: http://www.ncela.us

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