Towards a framework for family education: Language and literacy learning with Portuguese mothers and children

Eileen Marie Barry, University of Pennsylvania


This study investigates the proposition that family education projects in which adults and children share knowledge and explore common areas of interest can provide meaningful, biliterate teaching and learning opportunities. The framework guiding this study calls into question traditional educational arrangements that separate families and learners according to ages and abilities and instead proposes an environment reflecting the emergent, multifaceted and complex learning stances of families. In this study, two family education groups composed of women who immigrated from Portugal and their children who ranged in ages from two to fifteen years worked together to explore issues of concern in their communities while addressing specific language and literacy goals. The primary research question guiding this study asked: “How do adults and children create and use knowledge in a structured bilingual, intergenerational learning environment?” Data collection included audiotaping of intergenerational sessions, interviewing individuals and groups, collecting site documents, and recording fieldnotes from the stance of an observant participant. The data reveals that participants' attitudes towards acculturation and cultural maintenance shaped their views of teaching and learning, bilingualism, and intergenerational learning and directly affected the structure and focus of the family education projects. The experiences of the two groups argue for a culturally responsive framework for family education in which participants engage in critical dialogue and a meta-analysis of literacy and language use as they engage in meaningful, intergenerational learning in a bilingual setting.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Adult education|Continuing education

Recommended Citation

Barry, Eileen Marie, "Towards a framework for family education: Language and literacy learning with Portuguese mothers and children" (2001). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3015294.