Young People’s Emerging Multilingual Practices: Learning Language or Literacy, or Both?

  • Anne Pitkänen-HuhtaEmail author
Part of the Educational Linguistics book series (EDUL, volume 39)


Research on language learning and research on literacy are typically seen as two separate strands of enquiry and thus the concepts of language and literacy have traditionally been kept apart. This is partly due to epistemological questions related to language and literacy. In this chapter, I will discuss these concepts in the context of multilingualism. Approaching multilingual language use from the perspective of literacy practices enables us to look beyond language to social practices and to examine the relationship between the concepts of language and literacy, literacy practices and language learning. Two data sets are used to illustrate how language, literacy, and language learning are connected. The first set illustrates what understandings of language and language learning emerge when Finnish teenagers talk about their literacy practices. The second data set examines how Sámi children conceptualize their multilingual repertoires and make use of their resources in literacy practices. The relationship between the concepts of language, literacy, and learning in multilingual contexts seems to be complex, changing, and situated. Language appears to be intertwined in literacy practice, language and literacy seem to be developing side by side, and literacy can be both liberating and constraining.


Literacy practices Language Language learning Multilingualism Multilingual repertoires Resource Social practices Ethnographic 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Language and Communication StudiesUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

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