Interview with team leader Renate Valtin, German Society for Reading and Writing
What is your team’s responsibility in ELINET?
Team Childhood comprises the age group from birth to around the age of twelve, which is in most European countries the end of primary school. Together with Team Adolescents and Team Adults our team has mainly two tasks: to write country reports about literacy performance and literacy policies in the 30 countries involved in ELINET and to identify and exchange good practice examples based on this framework.
What do you hope to achieve with your team?
Up to now the information about literacy performance and policies are widespread in different data bases and reports. We hope to collect and systematize the existing knowledge in a coherent report and to develop a common European Framework of Good Practice in Literacy Policies for our age group.
What are the main challenges in your work?
Team Childhood, being concerned with young children, faces the challenge to combine four aspects when producing the country reports: family literacy, preprimary years, primary years and the results of PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study). Another challenge is that there are already many reports and analyses about this age group available.
How can those obstacles be overcome?
Instead of just repeating already existing knowledge we have taken a more deductive and problem-based approach, and we focus on factors, indicators and aspects that have not gained much attention in past reports but are highly relevant for fostering emergent literacy, literacy performance and related policies. We have developed templates based on the common framework of Teams Childhood, Adolescents, and Adults and divided our task in subgroups.
Personally, how did you become interested in literacy work?
From early childhood on I was a vivid reader and was astonished to meet pupils during my initial teacher training who experienced difficulties in reading. So I wanted to know more about this phenomena, started with a little study for my teacher examination and conducted an empirical investigation on dyslexia for my doctoral dissertation. Although my professional interests are broader and directed to learning and personality development and socialization theories, I always came back in my research to literacy topics.