Parental Attitudes, Social Context, and Bilingualism

Report
Parental Attitudes,
Social Context, and
Bilingualism
Yalda M. Kaveh
NNETESOL 2013
University of Southern Maine/Boston College
Email: [email protected]
Yalda Kaveh (@Yalda_Kv)
Bilingual or Monolingual, Why Should We
Care?
• 52.7% of Europeans are fluent in at least one
language other than their mother tongue,
while only 9.3% of Americans can claim such
bilingual fluency. (Trimnell, 2005)
• “While there are some success stories of
developing bilinguals in the second
generation, the reality of many immigrant
families is a gradual loss of the heritage
language as English becomes the dominant
language” (Nesteruk, p. 2010).
FAQ
• What is bilingualism and
© Joyce Hesselberth NY Times
who is a bilingual?
• What’s the big deal about bilingualism?
Benefit of Bilingualism
Cognitive
© Harriet Russell NY Times
 Bilinguals are more cognitively flexible, have double
vocabularies, and develop special skills by learning to solve
logic problems in different ways and handle multitasking.
Linguistic
Bilingualism increases metalinguistic awareness and
positively affects the ability to learn additional languages later
in life.
(Brisk, 2008; Cummins, 1979; Klass, 2011)
Benefits of Bilingualism
Academic
Cognitive and academic development in the first
language is highly significant in becoming fully literate
and academically proficient in the second language.
Bilinguals have higher achievement in education, reading,
vocabulary, and math because of their superiority in
formulating scientific hypothesis and deductive reasoning
skills
(Brisk, Burgos & Hamerla, 2004; Brisk, 2008; Clark, 2000; Collier, 1995; Cummins, 1980a)
Benefits of Bilingualism
Economic
Bilingualism helps nations in international commerce
and business and societies in sociocultural integration.
Social
Students’ ties with family and community depend on
home language fluency; without it, family relations are
often conflicted and may even collapse.
(Brisk et al., 2004; Brisk, 2008; Fillmore, 1991)
Factors Affecting Bilingualism
 Individual Factors
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Age
Gender
Learner’s Identity
Personal Attitudes
Internal Pressures
 Social/Group Factors
•
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Linguistic
Economic
Political
Cultural
Family
School
Peers
Community & Society
Media
(Brisk et al., 2004; Nesteruk, 2010)
My Study
• The Influence of
Parental Attitudes on
Children’s Bilingualism:
The Case of Six Iranian
Immigrant Families in
Two English-Speaking
Countries
© PBS “The Iranian Americans”
Purpose:
Exploring the influence of home language
experiences and parental attitudes toward the
first and the second language on children’s
bilingualism
Participants
• Six Iranian immigrant families in two English-speaking
countries, the U.S. and England.
• All have children with the average age of 19 who were
either born or grew up in these two countries.
• Group A: live in Maine, U.S.
• Group B: live in London, England
Maine
© ragingwire
Vs.
London
http://www.wallpaperok.biz/img/londoncity-evening-lights-river.html
Maine Vs. London
• Maine
• A very recent report from the Department of Sociology and the
Population Research Institute at the Pennsylvania State
University:
• Bangor, Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, and LewistonAuburn are among the 25 least diverse micro areas in the nation
Most of the children in this study grew up before the recent
demographic changes
(Lee, Iceland & Sharp, 2012)
• London
• A large population of immigrants
• Large community of Iranians
• Kids attend Farsi schools during the weekend
Data Collection
I. Online Survey
• 10 Questions asking about:
The children’s fluency in Farsi
The parents’ attitudes towards Farsi and
English
Parental strategies for language use at home,
Reasons parents attribute to their children’s
success or failure in becoming bilinguals
(See Appendix A)
Assigned
Country of
Number of
Age of the
Age of
Farsi Listening
Name
Residence
Children
Daughter(s)
the
Comprehension
Son(s)
Ability
Farsi Speaking Ability
A1
U.S.
2
14
17
Well
Elementary
A2
U.S.
2
23
27
Very Well
Rather Fluent
A3
U.S.
4
28
25
Varying
Varying Abilities*2
17
Abilities*1
16
B1
England
1
B2
England
2
B3
England
2
10
21
Almost Well
Rather Fluent
18
Almost Well
Rather Fluent
20
Very Well
Very Fluent
16
Table 1. Characteristics of the Participant Families
*1 The two older children understand Farsi very well; the two younger children understand it almost well.
*2 The two older children are fluent Farsi speakers; the two younger children cannot really speak Farsi.
II. Telephone and Skype Interviews with three
of the families
• To find more about the contextual factors for
the children in these families
• To find out how consciously or unconsciously
these parents had contributed to their
children’s improvement or deterioration of
Farsi.
• A2: has two children who are proficient in
Farsi but never use it to speak to their parents
at home
• A3: has four children- two of them are
bilinguals and the other two are monolinguals.
• B1: Ease of access.
(See Appendix B)
FINDINGS
1. Parental Attitudes toward L1 & L2: Highly Influential
on Bilingualism
• Parents whose children are fluent Farsi speakers, B1,
B2 & B3, consider L1 and L2 equally important, while
parents whose children can’t speak Farsi or do not use
it to speak to them, A1, A2 & A3, consider English
more important than Farsi.
• 3 of the parents with bilingual children attributed
their success to their effort in introducing their
cultural heritage by talking to their children in Farsi,
or by showing it through their behaviors.
2. Parents Are Not Aware of the Significance of L1 in L2
Development
• Five of the six parents believe L1 proficiency has no
effect on L2.
• One family believes it’s hard to know
• All the parents declared that they have NEVER
attended any events or read ANYTHING on
bilingualism
• Four out of six, almost 66.6%, indicated having no
strategy and that anyone can speak any language
he/she wishes (see chart 1). The other two parents
said that they speak Farsi and their children respond
in English.
Parental Language Strategy at Home
No strategy. Anyone can
speak any language
he/she wishes
We only allow our native
language at home
We only allow English
One parent speaks the
native language and the
other one speaks English
to them
Also…
• All parents said they use Farsi as their
everyday language
• Parent B1specifically uses Farsi to talk about
behavior, heritage, and respect.
• Families A1 and B2 switch to English for more
complicated and technical issues
3. Social Setting is as Influential as Home
Setting
• Families whose children speak Farsi fluently and frequently
mentioned having a community of friends or family
members nearby with whom the children could
communicate in Farsi.
• Parents believe having no Iranian community around and
using English all the time are main the reasons for losing
Farsi, while having Farsi-speaking friends and family
members around is one major reason for keeping the
language.
A2 son’s sudden interest in Farsi in DC
4. Attending School Intervenes in the
Maintenance of L1
• 85% of the parents motioned detrimental
effects for schools regarding their children's
heritage language fluency and literacy.
• Children started speaking English at home
when they started school.
• In families with more than one child, younger
siblings, started speaking English even before
school because of their older siblings.
Flashback to the Literature:
Attending school and being totally surrounded by the English
language is a huge transition for language-minority children.
Once they start school, they quickly find the key to
acceptance is English and are motivated to stop using their
primary language because they think it is of no use any more.
(Clark, 2000; Fillmore, 1991; Garcia, 2000)
Arguments
• Bilingualism can be highly influenced by the way
parents consider and use the two languages.
• Children will be even more unwilling to speak their
native language when they see their parents are
talking to them in English.
• Parents are not to be blamed. They need to be
informed.
Arguments
• Detrimental effects of schooling on heritage languages
can be ameliorated by motivating children for their L1
through introducing the beauties of their language and
culture while not imposing it.
• Having a community of native language speakers can
highly increase the interest in speaking that language.
• When there is no community, a tight family-school
partnership can be of great help.
• Family’s support for L1 won’t be effective when
children feel the pressure of being considered “aliens”
in school and among their peers.
Flashback to the Literature:
• “Teachers and parents must work together to try to
mitigate the harm that can be done to children when
they discover that differences are not welcome in the
social world represented by the school”
(Fillmore, 1991, p. 345)
• Families, students, and teachers need to be aware of
the benefits of bilingualism, the challenges of
becoming a bilingual, as well as the ways of addressing
those challenges at home, in school, and in the
community.
(Rodríguez, 2008)
Implications for Practice
Bilingualism needs ubiquitous awareness:
• Families need to be informed in order to support L1 at
home
• ELLs and non-ELLs need to learn to accept everyone,
including themselves, with all their differences;
• And, we, teachers, need to be prepared to promote
bilingualism among our students and their families by our
knowledge and positive attitudes.
Implications for Practice
• We need to start
looking at our
students as
“funds of
knowledge”.
©keepcalmandposters
References
• Klass, P. (2011, October 11). Hearing bilingual: How babies
sort out language. The New York Times.
• Nesteruk, O. (2010). Heritage language maintenance and
loss among the children of eastern european
immigrants in the USA. Journal of Multilingual &
Multicultural Development, 31(3), 271-286.
doi:10.1080/01434630903582722
• Rodríguez, M. Victoria. (2008). How to support
bilingualism in early childhood. Texas Child
Care Quarterly, 32(3), 24-29.
• Trimnell, E. (2005). Why you need a foreign language and
how to learn one. New York: Beechmont Crest.
More practical suggestions for
practice?
• Learning about our students’
backgrounds and integrating their
history, geography, language and culture
in our curriculum
• Ethnic festivals
• Inviting parents to classrooms
• Other ideas?
References
• Brisk, M.E., Ed. (2008). Language, culture, and community in
teacher education. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum
Associate (for the American Association of College for
Teacher Education).
• Brisk, M. E., Burgos, A., & Hamerla, S. (2004). Situational Context of
Education: A Window into the World of Bilingual Learners.
Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
• Clark, B. A. (2000). First- and Second-Language Acquisition in
Early Childhood, Issues in Early Childhood Education:
Curriculum, Teacher Education, & Dissemination of
Information. Proceedings of the Lilian Katz Symposium
(Champaign, IL, November 5-7, 2000), 181-188.
• Collier, V. P. (1995). Acquiring a second language for school. The
National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education (NCBE), 1(4).
• Cummins, J. (1980). The cross-lingual dimensions of language
proficiency: Implications for bilingual education and the
optimal age issue. TESOL Quarterly, 14(2), 175-187.
References
• Cummins, J. (1979). Linguistic interdependence and the
educational development of bilingual children. Review of
Educational Research, 49, 221–251. (Reprinted in the
National Dissemination and Assessment Center, Bilingual
Education Paper Series, September, 1979)
• Fillmore, L. W. (1991). When learning a second language
means losing the first. Early childhood research quarterly,
6(3), 323-347. Garcia, K. (2000). Raising bilingual kids.
Hispanic, 13(3), 74.
• Kipp, S., Clyne, M., & Pauwels, A. (1995). Immigration and
Australia's language resources. AGPS.
• Lee, B. A., Iceland, J., & Sharp, G. (2012). Racial and ethnic
diversity goes local: Charting change in American
communities over three decades. Department of Sociology
and Population Research Institute The Pennsylvania State
University. Retrieved from
http://www.s4.brown.edu/us2010/Data/Report/report08
292012.pdf.

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