The Multilingual Picturebook in English Language Teaching: Linguistic and Cultural Identity
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionIbrahim, M. N. d. P. C. (2020). The Multilingual Picturebook in English Language Teaching: Linguistic and Cultural Identity. Children's Literature in English Language Education, 8(2), 12-38. doi:
The many benefits of using picturebooks in the primary classroom include language development as well as an introduction to real-world issues through storytelling and fictitious characters that children can relate to. However, the representation of diversity in children’s literature, both cultural and especially linguistic, has been inadequate. Even though there is a drive to increase cultural diversity in children’s literature, from a linguistic perspective there is still a dearth of multilingual literature in English as foreign language classrooms, for example, selected picturebooks tend to be mostly monolingual. Although they offer a window to difference in faraway places and a mirror of otherness closer to home through the characters and illustrations, they don’t always acknowledge the linguistic aspect of the cultures they are highlighting. Yet, language reinforces the differences and similarities in cross-cultural spaces. This paper investigates the potential role of multilingual picturebooks in the primary EFL classroom. First, it explores the multilingual-multicultural nexus; next, it investigates the representation of cultural and linguistic diversity in picturebooks; finally, it uses the bilingual picturebook, Marisol MacDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol MacDonald no combina (2011), by Monica Brown and Sarah Palacios (illustrator) to identify the benefits of a multilingual approach to developing intercultural citizenship.