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About the value of stories in the development of multilingualism and multiliteracies


  • Claudia Mewald Pädagogische Hochschule Niederösterreich
  • Agnes Klein University of Pécs
  • Sabine Wallner Pädagogische Hochschule Burgenland


This paper discusses the pedagogical value and the usability of stories, picture books and young adult literature in the education of multilingual children and teenagers. It shows the stories’ potential in developing linguistic and affective competences as well as their role in creating identity and intercultural awareness. Moreover, it presents methodological strategies of exploiting pictorial and contextual clues as well as familiarity effects in the development of multilingual literacy and transcultural competence through scaffolding intercomprehension. While most studies on intercomprehension focus on adult learners, this research looks at the role of children’s books in the emotional, linguistic and cultural development of young multilinguals. It exemplifies how stories frame children’s identities and how their redesigning of stories depicts their views and values about them. Three case studies rely on longitudinal data collection in families, kindergarten and school to show how multilingual children and teenagers perceive the language and visuals in texts. They describe how the participants activate cross- and translinguistic competences in understanding and making sense of what they are hearing or reading in their first and additional languages. Moreover, the case studies exemplify how oral production develops when internal imaging and symbols from the stories are used in the development of linguistic range with the help of personalised lexical notebooks.


Claudia Mewald, Pädagogische Hochschule Niederösterreich

Claudia Mewald is a lecturer at the University College of Teacher Education in Lower Austria. She specializes in early FL education, learner autonomy, testing and assessment. She has researched the input and output in CLIL classes and portfolio assessment in teacher education. Since 2004 she has been involved in the development of educational standards and standardised testing at lower secondary level. Her current research interest is the washback of testing on teaching and learning.