Salta al contenuto principale
Passa alla visualizzazione normale.


On Migration and Illiteracy—Dealing With Texts in L2 Italian Initial-Literacy Classes


Acquiring the language spoken in the host country is crucial for social inclusion of migrants. From this perspective, illiteracy represents a social problem since it has repercussions on second-language acquisition/learning process. In order to investigate the role of illiteracy in L2 Italian acquisition, the paper aims at analyzing the oral productions of L2 Italian learners with equal L1 but a different level of education, i.e., low educated vs. non-educated. The learners’ productions are collected through semi-structured video interviews. From the perspective of the conversational analysis, the interviews are transcribed and studied taking into account also non-verbal aspects of the oral interactions. The learners belong to the specific category of the “unaccompanied foreign minors”. These minors are characterized by a particular sociolinguistic profile as they are often plurilinguals with a low, very low, or zero level of education. The lack of previous schooling limits the competence in languages (including L1) to oral competence alone, and this has repercussions on second-language acquisition and, therefore, on social inclusion. In fact, a certain competence in writing and reading has an important impact on mental processes. The low or zero familiarity with written texts has inevitable consequences in the second-language acquisition process, in terms of lack of meta-textual and meta-linguistic reflection. From the comparison of the interviews, the characteristics of the learners’ interlanguages show that the learners deal with the non-inflectional initial phase of the second-language acquisition process: Their linguistic varieties are certainly basic varieties. Actually, data show significant differences in the learners’ performance depending on (il)literacy, which is the only parameter differentiating the learners’ profile. In particular, literacy, namely a certain, albeit low, level of education and proficiency in writing skills, has positive repercussions on the performance in terms of a greater awareness of verb and verbal categories, greater skill in oral interaction, greater communicative efficacy, greater accuracy and fluency. In addition, as part of communicative competence, textual competence has also important implications both on second-language learning and on improving read-write skills. Within a literacy pathway, working on texts is normally destined to the advanced literacy class. Actually, some specific textual activities can be successfully proposed in the initial literacy class, in order to immediately accustom learners to some types of text. The results of these textual activities are also illustrated.