(Re)defining Success in Language Learning Positioning, Participation and Young Emergent Bilinguals at School Author: Katie A. Bernstein

Hardback - 200 pages
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31 Aug 2020
Multilingual Matters
234 x 156


This book follows four emergent bilingual students in an English-medium pre-kindergarten in the US as they navigate the social and linguistic demands of school. It illustrates how students’ differing classroom social positions shaped their participation in interaction and, in turn, their English language learning across a school year. With a unique focus on both processes and outcomes, the book highlights language strategies that are overlooked if the focus is solely on one language or on group participation, and it emphasizes the importance of assessment choice in shaping which learners appear to be successful. It is a powerful argument for recognising the translingual and multimodal abilities of learners, even in education which is officially English-medium and monolingual.


Through close and textured observation, this book takes us into children’s worlds where language learning is closely linked to social relations. Its frank engagement with theoretical and analytical dilemmas is fresh and fascinating, and points to new areas of study. The book has a rich, intensive ethnographical approach, and offers a beautifully rendered portrait of processes children encounter in their classroom every day.

- Asta Cekaite, Linköping University, Sweden

Absolutely fantastic! Everything about this book is compelling – the lucidly formulated case for a social view of language learning, the unfolding account of this perspective in Bernstein’s original research in a multilingual pre-K classroom, and, most of all, the stories of the four four-year-old refugees, Padma, Hande, Rashmi, and Kritika, and their distinct journeys into the English language. This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about language education.

- Betsy Rymes, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Author Biography:

Katie A. Bernstein is Assistant Professor of Early Childhood and English Language Learner Education, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University, USA. Her research focuses on the language and literacy learning of multilingual children and the contexts in which their learning takes place.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional

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