Leerderskenmerken: Individuele verschillen in het leren van talen.
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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This article reports findings from a survey among a representative sample of 500 adult inhabitants of the city of Rotterdam. The survey was conducted in 1989 in order to estimate the incidence of functional illiteracy among Rotterdam adults. The measures of literacy levels gained in this investigation were essentially based on subjects' self-reports. In this article some results for the 62 immigrant bilingual subjects are discussed and compared with those for a random subsample of 84 indigenous monolingual Dutch subjects, concerning the levels of literacy and the linguistic, social and educational background. It is concluded that the acquisition of literacy skills poses to both indigenous lower-class subjects and immigrants largely comparable problems, which can be traced back to the dominant functions and uses of oral and written language in the social environment in which they grew up. Detrimental influences of bilingualism can in a large part be interpreted by these shared socio-cultural factors. However, especially with respect to epistemologically complex reading and writing in Dutch, bilingualism still has a direct negative effect on adult literacy, suggesting that insufficient development of metalinguistic knowledge, such as knowledge of the lexicon and the phonological and syntactic system of Dutch, is a major cause of the associated type of illiteracy - called 'cultural illiteracy'.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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