Language, literacy and social justice: The experiences of Bangladeshi women in Birmingham, UK



Blackledge A (1999) Language, literacy and social justice: The experiences of Bangladeshi women in Birmingham, UK. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 20 (3), pp. 179-193.

This paper presents a study of the literacy practices and attitudes of Bangladeshi families in Birmingham, UK. In particular, the study focuses on the extent to which the mothers of eighteen six-year-old Bangladeshi children were able to support their children's school-related literacy learning. The paper locates literacy in the context of social justice, and relations of power between majority and minority groups in society. Despite the school's attempts to involve them, the Bangladeshi women were largely excluded from their children's schooling. They did not share the literacy of the school, so they were considered to be 'illiterate'. As they did not possess the linguistic or cultural capital demanded by the school, they were unable to contribute to their children's English literacy learning. The women were committed to their children's English education. At the same time, they reported that they had a clear understanding of how to support their children's Bengali literacy learning. However, the school did not seem to value the mothers' Bengali literacy as a resource. Instead, the women were disempowered by school structures which demanded that they play by the linguistic rules of the dominant-culture school, or put at risk their children's academic progress.

Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development: Volume 20, Issue 3

FundersUniversity of Birmingham
Publication date31/12/1999
Publication date online29/03/2010

People (1)


Professor Adrian Blackledge

Professor Adrian Blackledge

Professor in Education, Education