(In)Visible Literacies of Transnational Newcomer Youth in a Secondary English Classroom

  • Brooke Ward Taira University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Keywords: Transnational newcomer youth, Refugee students, Secondary English, Literacy practices


Research documents how transnational youth leverage literacy practices to maintain global connections, identity, and self-worth within learning environments that often fail to honor their cultural and linguistic repertoires. This article extends this research by focusing on the unique practices, experiences, and perspectives of secondary newcomer and refugee students. Grounded in transnational, sociocultural, and asset-based frameworks, this article highlights findings from a qualitative case study that explored the literacy practices of transnational students in a ninth-grade English classroom taught by a transnational teacher. Analysis of oral histories, classroom observations, and in-process interviews collected over a prolonged period revealed participants’ numerous and varied literacy practices. These practices, however, remained mostly invisible in the school and classroom, surfacing when recruited for narrow curricular and academic purposes. This work offers implications for continued research into the practices of newcomer students and potential benefits of teacher education centered on critical inquiry as a means for creating empowering literacy classrooms that draw on students’ assets, backgrounds, and repertoires to create more authentic and empowering spaces for literacy learning.   

Author Biography

Brooke Ward Taira, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Brooke Ward Taira is an assistant professor of literacy education at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.