14 SES 12 C JS, How Can/Do Parents Support their Children's Language and Literacy Development?
Joint Paper Session NW 14 and NW 31
The Chinese migrant population in Germany forms one of the smaller and less-studied groups of overseas Chinese in Europe, consisting mainly of Chinese expatriates living in Germany and German citizens of Chinese descent (Benton, 2007). The German Chinese community is growing rapidly and, as of 2016, was estimated to be around 212,000 (Federal Insititute for Population Research) 
My research aims at answers to the question of how Chinese migrants in Germany maintain their heritage language in second-generation children who grow up in the German-dominant society. It has been shown consistently in international research that language shift is much more common than language maintenance among immigrants’ children (Portes & Rumbaut, 2001). For maintenance of the heritage language and ancestral cultural traditions in second-generation immigrants, the language concept and practice play a significant role (Fishman, 1964;, Chatzidaki & Maligkoudi, 2013; Melo-Pfeifer, 2015[IGo1] ; ). Considerable studies have recognized this and shown that positive parental attitudes or higher levels of parental engagement are directly associated with more successful outcomes of language maintenance (Scheele, A., Leseman, P., & Mayo, A. ,2010; Chung, 2007; Guardado, 2002; Hashimoto & Lee, 2011; Lao, 2004; Park & Sarkar, 2007; Schüpbach, 2009; Yang, 2008; Zhang & Slaughter-Defoe, 2009).
Concerning the extent how a language is being maintained, careful examination of various aspects of language proficiency is required (Gibbons & Ramirez, 2004). Examining a full and literate proficiency in heritage language instead of a simpler conversational level for daily communication is strongly advocated by researchers like Gibbons and Ramirez (2004) and Verhoeven (1991a, 1991b). Therefore, a comprehensive measure of language proficiency should take into account reading, writing and even the academic register (Gibbons & Ramirez, 2004).
In examining the maintenance of Chinese as a heritage language among second and third generation children in Germany (as a case), the primary focus of my research is to study Chinese immigrant parents’ language conceptions, attitudes and practices in language maintenance and their effects on Chinese language proficiency of the children. In the educational context of Hamburg (one of the 16 German Federal States), Chinese courses are offered in seven schools of the regular school system. The courses differ from school to school, for different grades of pupils. The courses are optional extra-curricular, offered by primary schools (Grundschule) and in middle schools, the option for the examinations of high school graduation (Abitur) is provided. Furthermore, six private weekend schools offer courses for children from the age of three to sixteen. These schools provide also other opportunities to the Chinese community in Hamburg, such as cultural activities, sports clubs and other social events. My research project is focused on the part of the Chinese community who accepts this offer.
Research objectives and question
This project aims to outline via a standardized means of assessing a more holistic picture of the second-or-third-generation Chinese immigrant children’s proficiency in the Chinese language. It seeks to explore the implications of parental concepts, attitudes and actual practices on children’s Chinese proficiency. The objectives are embodied in the following research questions:
1. What is the current level of second-generation immigrant children’s Chinese language proficiency who visit a private Chinese school additionally to the regular education system?
2. What are parents’ concepts and attitudes regarding Chinese language maintenance?
3. What are – beyond the investment in additional education – the main practices used by parents to support their children’s maintaining the Chinese language?
4. How do parents’ concepts, attitudes and practices correlate with their children’s Chinese proficiency?
In this paper, I will focus on the aspect of parents’ practices and the children’s language proficiency ( research question 4).
There are two major methodological concerns for this research. The first is how to measure immigrant children’s Chinese proficiency and the second is how to assess immigrant parents’ perspectives and practice. With respect to the measurement of language proficiency, I apply the YCT (Youth Chinese Test). This is an internationally authoritative Chinese language proficiency test launched by Hanban (Confucius Institute Headquarters) in China, a state-level standardized test for non-native speakers of Chinese. YCT is targeted at young students, usually primary or secondary school students, and is divided into four levels. With respect to the assessment of parents’ perspectives and practice, I combine both quantitative and qualitative methods to draw a holistic picture by applying a mixed methods approach. Quantitative data were collected by a questionnaire to explore patterns or relations between parental perspectives, and children’s language proficiency, based on standardized questions or scales (e.g. from the German National Educational Panel Study NEPS). The qualitative data is collected by semi-structured interviews on parents’ experiences, feelings and expectations concerning the language development of their children. c) Sampling strategy This study recruits families with target children ranging in age from 8 to 10 who were born and are being educated in Germany. In this age range, children are expected to be prepared to complete the test tasks. The parents are first-generation immigrants. d) Data analysis The parents’ questionnaire applies methods for the quantitative analysis of date with small samples. Language tests will be analyzed according to the YCT analysis scheme. Interview transcripts and field notes taken during the interview constitute the qualitative data are coded and categorized with the support of Maxqda.
• The contribution to ECER will rely on preliminary data analysis of interviews with 15 families and the completed language test of their children. This paper will indicate the interim findings of the study, concerning the aspects of parents’ expectations on the Chinese language proficiency of their children at the moment of testing; • Language practice at home; • Investment in language learning of the children; • Strategies of literacy support in the family and the corresponding language skills of the children Expected contribution: This research attempts to make significant contributions to the current pool of knowledge on language maintenance in diaspora contexts. It will unravel the extent to which Chinese is maintained or lost in the context of a monolingual education system. It will contribute to the general understanding of the intergenerational transmission of language competence in migration societies. Moreover, the project aims to fill the gap of research on the little-studied group of Chinese immigrants in Germany.
1.https://web.archive.org/web/20171209232407/http://www.bib-demografie.de/DE/Aktuelles/Presse/Archiv/2017/2017-03-01-zuwanderung-aussereuropaeische-Laender-fast-verdoppelt.html Gibbons, J., & Ramirez, E. (2004). Maintaining a Minority Language: A Case Study of Hispanic Teenagers. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Lapadat, J. C. (2009). Thematic analysis. In A. J. Mills, G. Durepos & E. Wiebe. Encyclopedia of case study research. Retrieved Nov, 11,2017 from http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.library.uq.edu.au/10.4135/9781412957397.n342 Lao, C. (2004) Parents’ attitudes toward Chinese–English bilingual education and Chinese-language use. Bilingual Research Journal, 28(1), 99-121. Li, W. (1994) Three generations, two languages, one family: Language choice and language shift in a Chinese community in Britain. Cleve don, UK: Multilingual Matters. Park, S. M. & Sarkar, M. (2007) Parents’ attitudes toward heritage language maintenance for their children and their efforts to help their children maintain the heritage language: A case study of Korean—Canadian immigrants. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 20(3), 223-235. Portes, A., & Rumbaut, R.G. (2001). Legacies: The story of the immigrant second generation. Berkeley: University of California Press. Portes, A. & Rumbaut, R. G. (2006) Immigrant America. A Portrait. 3rd revised and expanded edition. Berkeley: University of California Press. Portes, A. & Rumbaut, R. G. (2014) Immigrant America. A Portrait. 4th revised and expanded edition. Berkeley: University of California Press. Scheele, A., Leseman, P., & Mayo, A. (2010). The home language environment of monolingual and bilingual children and their language proficiency. Applied Psycholinguistics, 31(1), 117-140. doi:10.1017/S0142716409990191 Schüpbach, D. (2009). Language transmission revisited: family type, linguistic environment and language attitudes. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 12(1), 15-30. Verhoeven, L. (1991b). Predicting minority children’s bilingual proficiency: Child, family and institutional factors. Language Learning, 41, 205-233. Zhang, D. (2010) Language maintenance and language shift among Chinese immigrant parents and their second-generation children in the US. Bilingual Research Journal, 33, 42–60. Zhang, D. & Slaughter-Defoe, D. T. (2009) Language attitudes and heritage language maintenance among Chinese immigrant families in the USA. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 22(2), 77–93.
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