Multiple Border Crossings: Literacy Practices of Chinese-American Bilingual Families

Principal Investigator: Gaoming Zhang
Michigan State University


This research examined the literacy activities, beliefs and values in two Chinese- American bilingual families. The families were chosen from a community of families involved in a weekend Chinese school. I was a teacher at this school and the position gave me access to families with children who could provide valuable insights into the complex relationships of influences among different life and sociocultural domains on literacy development.
The data I collected addressed three research questions: (a) What are the relationships between in school and out of school literacies? (b) How are different languages used across and within sociocultural domains? (c) What roles do these Chinese-American bilingual parents play in shaping literacy practices of children? I used a case study methodology to examine these issues for a seven-month period of study. A case methodology was employed, including participant observation, semi-structured interviews, collecting artifacts, triangulation and participant checks. Results of the analysis revealed that the formal schooling for the children in both English-based public school, and their Chinese-based weekend school impacted their practices of literacy outside of school as did the nature of their familiesí involvements in their literacy activities.


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