Becoming literate in faith settings: Language and literacy learning in the lives of new Londoners

Lead Research Organisation: Goldsmiths College
Department Name: Educational Studies

Abstract

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

Publications

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Arani Ilankuberan (Speaker) (2011) Language use and language ideologies in faith settings

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Catherine Compton-Lilly (Co-Author) (2013) Conversation Currents: Learning from Families and Communities in Language Arts

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Eve Gregory (Author) (2013) How faith settings contribute to children's learning in Race Equality Teaching

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Eve Gregory (Author) (2013) Translating faith : field narratives as a means of dialogue in collaborative ethnographic research in International Journal of Qualitative Methods

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Eve Gregory (Author) (2012) Translating Faith in International Journal of Qualitative Methods

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Eve Gregory (Author) (2013) Practise, performance and perfection : learning sacred texts in four faith communities in London in International journal of the sociology of language

 
Title Becoming literate in faith settings : language and literacy learning in the lives of new Londoners 
Description Video produced to be available on Goldsmiths' webpage 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2012 
 
Description Faith permeates the lives of many children, weaving a thread through their languages and literacies, narratives, social, cultural and moral learning as well as their artistic and aesthetic knowledge. Paradoxically, research into faith as a mediator of learning remains extremely limited, perhaps because it is considered a private and intimate part of family life. This study has uncovered a remarkable breadth and depth of learning effected through faith in the lives of 16 children living in London.



Across all settings, we identified and examined important overlapping themes: beauty and emotion; the learning of skills and knowledge; syncretism and intergenerationality, continuity and belonging:



i) Beauty and emotion infuse learning in the places of worship, and learning is multimodal and multisensory. Children regularly perform music, mime, dance and text recitation which become part of their bilingual repertoires. Faith is steeped in symbols which children learn in the faith classes, alongside the history, culture and stories of their heritage country. Children learn by participating in celebrations and rituals then enacted in their sociodramatic play.

ii) The learning of languages and literacies is interwoven with artistic, aesthetic, social, cultural and moral learning. Children learn a range of formal oral and written texts with difficult lexis, complex narratives and intricate rituals where high expectations demand mature behaviour and performance; simultaneously, they act these out in a supportive environment, rehearsing texts and concepts with parents or through sibling play. We argue that faith is thus 'imbibed' rather than formally learned, yet its structure means that faith activities provide a bridge between the informal early learning of the home and the formal learning of school.

iii) Children syncretise aspects of culture from both their heritage and London worlds. Although faith itself offers a body of permanent texts, rituals and traditions, our study shows how children draw upon different languages, literacies and narratives as well as the internet, other media and their own experiences to make personal sense of these. This is illustrated through children's mind maps revealing complex interwoven aspects of school, home and faith in their everyday lives.

iv) Faith activities link generations, providing recognition of the expertise of older people who mediate the heritage language, history and culture. At the same time, children transform their heritage tradition, using new media to interpret their faith.



(see web-site: http://www.belifs.co.uk for a full account of our findings)
Exploitation Route Faith leaders and faith teachers should become aware of the academic, social and cultural skills children are developing alongside their knowledge of their faith so that they can draw more explicitly upon these in their faith lessons.

• Mainstream school teachers need to know more about the knowledge and skills learned by children in their faith settings so that they can support the whole child.

• Parents of children who are members of their faith community should be proud of their children's skills and achievements.

• This knowledge should be recognised and celebrated by the whole community.

The findings from this project are being distributed to Head Teachers, teachers and faith communities who are already using some of the practical ideas from this work (activities involving grandparents and older people, scrap-books, mind-maps etc.) Currently, findings are being disseminated through key-notes and other seminars and talks to both an academic and non-academic audience. Two books are in preparation: an authored book 'Faith Literacies and Children's Learning' (Gregory and Lytra) Sage (2015) and an edited collection (Lytra, Volk and Gregory) on the learning of languages and literacies through faith and religious activities in a global context.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment

URL http://www.belifs.co.uk
 
Description Disappearing Londoners: Monolingual Voices in a Multilingual City
Amount £21,509 (GBP)
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 03/2019
 
Description Innovation in Partnership Conference 
Organisation British Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Partnership conference at the British Museum, Friday 22 November 2013 on collaborative methods between supplementary schools (including faith), museums and universities
Start Year 2012
 
Description "Intertwined worlds: Tamil Hindu/Saiva faith teachers' reflections on pedagogy and their practices as a bridge between faith and school life in contemporary London". Paper presented as part of the colloquium "Children's Literacies, Languages, and Identities Nurtured in Religious Settings: Insights for Secular Teaching Practice and Advocacy" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Annual Convention. Atlanta, Georgia, 17-20 November
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Article in a professional magazine, EAL Journal 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Lytra, V., Gregory, E. and A. Ilankuberan wrote an article on "Faith matters: Rethinking home learning of children from different faiths" that appeared in the EAL Journal (Summer 2017, Summer), pages 30-31. The purpose of the article was to share key research findings and raise the visibility of faith literacies among educators. The article was accompanied by a book review of the edited book "Navigating Languages, Literacies and Identities: Religion in Young Lives" edited by Lytra, V., D. Volk and E. Gregory. The EAL Journal reaches all NALDIC (the national subject association for EAL) members. it's very difficult to assess the impact this publication might have had.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://ealjournal.org/
 
Description Becoming literate through faith activities in the home 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Faith plays a great influence in the lives of many children whose families have migrated to the UK. These children become literate and often bi- or multilingually literate during faith services, at their faith classes and in their homes. This seminar invites colleagues into the lives of sixteen families in London whose children regularly practise their faith. The families are from the Bangladeshi Muslim, the Ghanaian Pentecostal, the Tamil Hindu and the Polish Catholic communities. After watching a number of activities in which the children engage at home, we discuss what literacy and language skills are being developed alongside the cultural and social knowledge displayed. Finally, we ask whether and in what ways children might be able to transfer these skills and knowledge into the classroom and what teachers might do to foster this. The work forms part of an ESRC funded project 'Becoming literate in faith settings: Language and literacy learning in the lives of new Londoners (2009-2013).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Colloquium at BAAL (British Association for Applied Linguistics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Paper presented as part of the colloquium "Taking stock: Languages, literacies and identities in intergenerational learning in immigrant homes and communities" organised by Mahera Ruby and Vally Lytra. BAAL (British Association of Applied Linguistics) Annual Conference. Anglia Ruskin University, 1-3 September
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Conversation Currents: Learning from Families and Communities 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Catherine Compton-Lilly, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Eve Gregory, from the University of London, share their latest research involving family members, communities, and the uncovering of varied literacy practices sprinkled throughout homes, faith-based organizations, and community centers. They talk about the reciprocal nature of children's literacy learning and how what is learned at home comes into school, and what is learned in school also shows up for the children as they interact with family members at home.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.ncte.org/journals/la/podcasts?roi=echo4-23269767103-21661720-8cecb51073badb7de20455b737cf...
 
Description Faith as mediator of learning in children's lives 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Faith plays an important role in the lives of many young children whose families have migrated to the UK. These children become literate and often bi- or multilingually literate during faith services, at their faith classes and in their homes. In this presentation, we invite colleagues into the lives of sixteen families in London whose children regularly practise their faith. The families are from the Polish Catholic, Bangladeshi Muslim, Ghanaian Pentecostal and the Tamil Hindu communities. Through a number of video clips we see ways in which learning to belong to a faith is intricately intertwined with the learning of language and literacy, social, cultural and aesthetic skills. Finally, we ask whether and in what ways children might be able to transfer these skills and knowledge into the classroom and what teachers might do to foster this. The work forms part of an ESRC funded project 'Becoming literate in faith settings: Language and literacy learning in the lives of new Londoners' (2009-2013) and is portrayed in detail in our web-site: www.belifs.co.uk

.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description International symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Paper presented at the International Symposium The Acquisition of Performance Practices in Faith Settings II. Symposium part of AHRC-funded international interdisciplinary network Heavenly Acts: Aspects of Performance through an Interdisciplinary Lens. University of Roehampton, 21-22 September
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
 
Description Interview with Dr. Eve Gregory: Learning to Belong 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A podcast interview on findings of the project as presented as a key-note at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver See interview

See interview
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Invited talk at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. University of Jyväskylä, Finland 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Vally Lytra gave an invited talk to post-graduate and undergraduate students on the project findings at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. University of Jyväskylä, Finland. A lively discussion ensued on about the role of faith and faith learning in contemporary societies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Keynote talk at the Second International Conference on Literacy and Contemporary Society organised by the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute, Ministry of Education and Culture, Cyprus, in collaboration with the University of Cyprus 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Vally Lytra discussed the multilingual turn in language and education drawing on research from faith and complementary school settings to an audience of about 100 teacher practitioners, post-graduate and undergraduate students based in Cyprus. A paper version of the talk was requested to appear in the conference proceedings and several members of the audience commented afterwards about how the research alerted them to the role of faith literacies in children's lives.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.pi.ac.cy/pi/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1815&Itemid=109&lang=en
 
Description Learning from Families and Communities 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Language Arts had the distinct pleasure of talking with two literacy scholars, Cathy Compton-Lilly and Eve Gregory, as they shared their latest research involving family members, communities, and the uncovering of varied literacy practices sprinkled throughout homes,

faith-based organizations, and community centres. They talk about the reciprocal nature of children's literacy learning and how what is learned at home comes into school, and what is learned in school also shows up for the children as they interact with family members at home. Working from children's funds of knowledge, both Cathy and Eve demonstrate that ethnographic research and working with families and communities over time reveal a complexity

of literacy practices and uses that may not be evident upon first glance.

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.ncte.org/journals/la/podcasts
 
Description Learning to belong: Young children learning through faith in new London communities 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact An account of the way in which skills needed for school in the UK are learned within the context of learning to belong to a faith setting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Learning to belong: Young children learning through faith in new London communities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact A seminar held at the Centre for Language, Culture and Learning, Goldsmiths
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Linking home and school: Learning from children and their families in London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Teachers often lack knowledge of their pupils' out-of-school learning. In the UK, myths often prevail that very little language and literacy learning takes place in the homes of economically disadvantaged children. These are supported by government reports and children's poor examination performance. However, in-depth, ethnographic studies reveal that such children may be engaged in complex cognitive, language and literacy skills in their day-to-day activities. These may be taking place in their homes with siblings, parents or grandparents or by participation in their communities, such as in faith settings. In this presentation, I draw upon a series of ethnographic studies taking place in London. These show how children from disadvantaged social backgrounds learn complex cognitive, language and literacy skills in their homes and communities. Finally, I argue that closer links between homes and schools would enable teachers to build upon these skills, thus fostering the achievement of their pupils.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Pre-conference workshop on Visual Ethnographies of Education, Migration and Childhood for post-graduate students and academics (Barcelona, Spain) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Vally Lytra delivered a workshop whose purpose was to illustrate how the use of the scrapbooks methodology developed for the project can contribute to research with children in multilingual settings and to foreground the kinds of learning children engage with through their faith literacies. The workshop was interdisciplinary drawing on the fields of education and anthropology. More than 100 post-graduate students and academics attended the workshop and several participated in the discussion with the audience afterwards. During the discussion with the audience and afterwards, several participants remarked on how the focus of the workshop on children's faith literacies raised their awareness of the importance of faith literacies in children's language and literacy development and identity construction.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.eera-ecer.de/other-organisations-events/4th-international-conference-of-ethnography-and-e...
 
Description Presentation at 5th NALDIC South and Central London RIG, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Vally Lytra did a talk for about 30 members of the NALDIC (the national subject association for EAL) South and Central London RIG (Regional Interest Group, a professional network for EAL practitioners) to share research findings and raise awareness of the changing nature and scope of faith learning in London. This talk led to the request to write an article for the EAL Journal and review the edited book "Navigating Languages, Literacies and Identities: Religion in Young Lives" (edited by V. Lytra, E. Gregory and D. Volk) in the same issue of that journal in 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://naldic.org.uk/about-naldic/get-involved/rigs-sigs/#regional-interest-groups
 
Description Public engagement event on "Languages and spiritual traditions. Linguistic diversity and religious diversity in the city of Barcelona" organised by Linguapax International, Barcelona, 24 November 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A debate on linguistic and religious diversity with three main speakers. Vally Lytra talked about the role of faith as a force for learning, socialisation and personal and collective identification in young people's lives in London from an educational standpoint. The two other speakers presented their views drawing on the fields of history and linguistics. The three talks were followed by a panel discussion with representatives of different faith communities in the city of Barcelona. About 70 people attended the event, including policy makers. The event was filmed and it's accessible via the website of Linguapax International which allows for the debate and panel to reach a wider audience. A paper version of the talk was requested to appear in a forthcoming Linguapax publication. Also, members of the audience showed an interest in the project, for instance, one participant, the President of the International and Heritage Association in Alberta, Canada, would like to link the work from the project with the work they are doing on heritage education.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.linguapax.org/english/what-we-do/linguapax-30-years-conference-on-languages-and-spiritual...
 
Description Reading for real? Children's literacy in faith settings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A podcast describing findings of the project containing audioclips from the families and faith classes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://podacademy.org/podcasts/literacy-in-religious-settings/
 
Description Talk at Approaches to Migration, Language and Identity, University of Lausanne, Switzerland 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Vally Lytra Lytra, gave a talk on "Ways of knowing, ways of being in and through faith" attended by about 30 conference participants. Following the talk, the organisor of the conference who was part of the audience and is based at the English Department of the University of Lausanne invited her to give a lecture in the English Department in 2017-18. Also, they discussed the possibility of doing a similar ethnographic study on children's faith literacies in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://wp.unil.ch/amli2017/
 
Description The role of ideologies in the language planning of faith lessons 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Paper based on the article 'Pentecostal and Catholic churches in London - the role of ideologies in the language planning of faith lessons' presented as part of the Colloquium 'Religion as a site of multilingual ritual practice', organized by Professor Tope Omoniyi.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Ways of Communicating in Ghanaian Cultural and Faith Settings 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact The meanings of words and phrases become the threads by which cultural groups weave their attitudes, behaviour, standards, thinking and values into a unified identity, through beliefs, customs and traditions. In the Ghanaian Pentecostal Church, children learn through 'Call and Response' in speech and song and the Bible. Young Ghanaian children, who are growing up in Ghana and the UK, create many identities for themselves in

their language and literacy learning, not only in school but also at home, at Church and in the wider community. Many of these children are bilingual and some are multilingual. They pass through varying levels of cognition on a daily basis in the course of learning English as an additional language. (Mainstream teachers in Ghana also have English as an additional language.) The focus of my talk is two-fold: 1. how Ghanaian children learn

language and literacy through faith activities and 2. how children in Ghana learn in English.



In both Ghana and the UK, English is the language of communication in school. However, although English is still the only official language in Ghana, it is a foreign language that is not spoken in Ghanaian homes. The Bullock Report (1975) states that children's home languages should be taken into account by schools because they form a part of non-English-speaking children's identities. Due to the fact that Ghanaian children are taught and examined in English and deemed failures if they do not succeed, Ghanaian parents arrange extra tuition for their children in addition to children's participation in cultural activities, such as storytelling and faith activities, such as Sunday school. In both countries, mainstream

teachers could begin to learn about children's extra-curricular activities so that they can provide appropriate support for their learning and development.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description seminar at University of Luxembourg 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Seminar. "Navigating teachers' and parents' language practices and ideologies: Findings from the complementary schools' sector". Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education, University of Luxembourg. 26 April
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description talk at NALDIC 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Migration and the changing nature and scope of faith learning in London". 5th NALDIC South and Central London RIG, London, 10 March (Main Speaker, V. Lytra)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016