31 SES 02, Monolingual Habitus / Multilingual Realities. Research for the Mobilisation of Multilingualism in Education: from Family to Classroom Practices (I/II)
Competence in the majority language is undoubtedly one of the main determinants of educational attainment among immigrant children (Esser 2006). Immigrant families’ language practices are assumed to impact majority language competencies, although findings have been inconsistent (e.g. Gebhardt et. al 2013). This paper examines language practices among a sample of immigrant families (n = 273) in Germany in order to reveal the multilingual realities of those children expected to attain a reasonable level of German. Breaking with traditional research approaches that tend to view family language practices homogeneously, this research formulated a perspective to expect heterogeneity of language practices for different familial relationships. Using a rational choice-based theoretical mechanism, it suggests multilingual language practices where family members continually negotiate their varying language competencies and preferences (Medvedeva 2012). The heritage (i.e. migrant) language is assumed to occupy a significant role in these practices (Barni & Extra 2008), with a preponderance of the majority language (in this case German) in the second (i.e. child’s) generation (Gogolin et al. 2011). The dataset for empirical analysis contained information about language practices between mother and child, between father and child, and among siblings. The sample comprised three age groups (6-, 11-, 15-year-olds) and four ethnic backgrounds (Russian, Turkish, Vietnamese, German). On this basis, four types of language practice patterns were estimated using Latent Class Analysis (LCA). This allowed an investigation of variability in language practices within and between types. Types were then cross-tabulated with family background characteristics. The analysis reveals a high level of heterogeneity in family language practices. Firstly, parents are likely to use the heritage language when communicating with one another. Secondly, there are major differences in language practices within and between generations. The family background appears only to affect parental language practices. Language practices between siblings are overwhelmingly German, thus widely independent of both family background and parental linguistic preferences. These insights into the multilingual realities of immigrant families indicate that the heritage language plays an important role but does not conflict with the child’s linguistic integration into German society. This suggests that other social contexts, such as schooling, play a more significant role in majority language acquisition. Here, the role of research is instrumental in exposing the multilingual realities of school-going children in contemporary European society.
Barni, M., & Extra, G. (Eds.) (2008). Mapping linguistic diversity in multicultural contexts. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Esser, H. (2006). Sprache und Integration. Die sozialen Bedingungen und Folgen des Spracherwerbs von Migranten. Frankfurt am Main: Campus-Verlag. Gebhardt, M., Rauch, D., Mang J., Sälzer, C., & Stanat, P. (2013). Mathematische Kompetenzen von Schülerinnnen und Schülern mit Zuwanderungshintergrund. In M. Prenzel, C. Sälzer und E. Klieme (Eds.), PISA 2012. Fortschritte und Herausforderungen in Deutschland. Münster: Waxmann, 275–308. Gogolin, I., Dirim, I., Klinger, T., Lange, I., Lengyel, D., & Michel, U. (2011). Förderung von Kindern und Jugendlichen mit Migrationshintergrund FörMig. Bilanz und Perspektiven eines Modellprogramms. Münster, Westf: Waxmann. Medvedeva, M. (2012). Negotiating Languages in Immigrant Families. International Migration Review, 46(2), 517–545.
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