The continua of biliteracy model offers an ecological framework in which to situate research, teaching, and language policy and planning in multilingual settings. Biliteracy is defined here as “any and all instances in which communication occurs in two (or more) languages in or around writing” and the continua depict the complex, fluid, and interrelated dimensions of communicative repertoires; it is in the dynamic, rapidly changing and sometimes contested spaces along and across the continua that biliteracy use and learning occur. The continua of biliteracy model was formulated in the context of a multi-year, comparative ethnography of language policy beginning in 1987 in two Philadelphia public schools and their respective communities.
In the years since it was first proposed, the model has served as heuristic in research, teaching, and program development locally, nationally, and internationally in Indigenous, immigrant and diaspora language education contexts. Along the way, it has evolved and adapted to accommodate both a changing world and a changing scholarly terrain, foregrounding ethnographic monitoring and mapping, ideological and implementational spaces, voice and translanguaging as instantiated in multilingual education policy and practice. In this talk, I highlight recent experiences in immigrant contexts of Philadelphia and Indigenous contexts of Brasil, South Africa, Sweden and Peru where the continua of biliteracy model has informed bilingual program development and Indigenous and second language teaching.
She researches, lectures, teaches, and consults regularly on multilingual education policy and practice in the United States and the Andes (Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador) and has also worked in Brazil, China, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden and other parts of the world. Dr. Hornberger received her Ph.D. in educational policy studies in 1985 and joined the faculty at Penn's Graduate School of Education the same year, later also joining Penn’s Anthropology Graduate Group. She served as acting and interim dean of Penn GSE from 1993–1995, held the Goldie Anna chair from 1993–1998, and directed/chaired Educational Linguistics for more than 20 years. From 2000–2015, she served as convener of Penn GSE's annual international Ethnography in Education Research Forum, now in its fourth decade.