Pedagogical practices in the teaching of early literacy in Spain: Voices from the classroom and from the official curricula

Liliana Tolchinsky, Montserrat Bigas, Catalina Barragan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Children's success in learning to read in the first grade is crucial for their ultimate success in schooling. This study aimed at identifying self-declared practices in preschool and first grade in Spain and contrasting these practices with the official recommendations for the initial teaching of reading and writing. A characterisation of the ways of teaching and of the broader institutional context which can support or hinder teachers' work is fundamental for determining the best conditions for successful literacy learning. A 30-item questionnaire was used to collect teachers' preferences on a six-point Likert scale describing the frequency with which they reported adopting a certain practice in four areas: (1) organisation of the class, (2) planning, (3) activities and content, and (4) evaluation. A total of 2250 teachers, 1193 from preschool and 1057 from first year of primary school from nine geographic areas of Spain responded to the questionnaire. A cluster analysis of teachers' responses revealed three practice profiles. The first gathers teachers' preferences for explicit instructional practices, highly focused on the learning outcomes but less concerned with autonomous writing and occasional learning. The second brings together situational practices, more concerned with spontaneous writing and occasional learning than with explicit instruction and learning outcomes. The third reunites multidimensional practices focusing both on explicit instruction and leaning outcomes and on autonomous writing. The distribution of these practice profiles differed significantly with the teacher's age, school level (preschool or primary school), type of school (private, public or subsidised), the location of the school, level of participation in in-training service and the self-declared methodology for teaching literacy. In the official recommendations, Andalusia and Catalonia support practices included under the situational oriented profile whereas Madrid appears more closely aligned with the instructional profile of practices. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-62
JournalResearch Papers in Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


  • literacy
  • pedagogical practices
  • Spain


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