Stavans, Anat. “‘If you know Amharic you can read this’: Emergent Literacy in Multilingual Pre-Reading Children.” In Crosslinguistic Influence and Crosslinguistic Interaction in Multilingual Language Learning (ed. Gessica De Angelis et al; London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2015): 149-72.
The Ethiopian families, who immigrated to Israel in the early 1990s, represent an instrumental example for the study of the social and cultural integration of an immigrant community with low socio-economic status, limited schooling and non-Western oral or literate cultural traditions. Children from such backgrounds, even those born in the new country, have to cope with at least three languages to greater or lesser degrees and for different purposes in their day-to-day lives. These families are overt bilinguals with Amharic/Tigris as their home language and Hebrew as the dominant language of the host society and the language of schooling; however, they are also latent trilinguals because in addition they contend with English presence in the daily life with its influence into the local languages, its presence in all media input, its economic (local production must be marked in Hebrew, Arabic and English) and geopolitical attributes, as well as the core curricular requirement for scholastic graduation. The Ethiopian family exhibits mostly oral literacy in the home language while school requires literacy in Hebrew and in English (at times as early as first and second grades). Unlike veteran or higher SES families, most Ethiopian parents cannot afford the benefits of extracurricular enrichment programs or tutors and they rely mostly on what is available in their environment and what they as members of the community can provide for their children.