31 SES 15 A, Cross-national and International erspectives on Migrant Family-Language Practices and Literacy Investment
The German Chinese community is growing rapidly and, as of 2016, was estimated to be around 212,000 (Federal Institute for Population Research, 2017). In 2018, 81.6 % of the Chinese group in Germany are people with their own migration experience, which defines the Chinese as a growing community. Despite this, they form 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). With no previous literature providing any clues, this paper strives to shed light on the heritage language maintenance of the Chinese immigrant families.
This research aims at answers to the question how Chinese 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). 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, Leseman, & Mayo, 2010; Chung, 2007; Guardado, 2002; 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-generation children in Germany, the primary focus of this research is to study Chinese immigrant parents’ language conceptions, attitudes and practices in language maintenance and the Chinese language proficiency of the children.
The Chinese language differ greatly from the alphabetic orthography of many European languages. The Chinese Phonetic Alphabet ( Pīnyīn) and the writing characters are not closely correlated. In order to be literate, 3000 to 4000 individual characters are required.
In the educational context, Chinese courses are offered in seven schools of Hamburg school system. Six private weekend Chinese schools provide courses for children aged from early years up till high school. These schools also provide opportunities for social networking for the Chinese community. My research project is focused on the part of the Chinese community who accepts this offer.
Research objectives and questions
This project aims to outline via a standardized means of assessment a more holistic picture of the second-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 the Chinese language maintenance?
3. What are the main practices used by parents to support their children in maintaining the Chinese language?
4. How do parents’ concepts, attitudes and practices correlate with their children’s Chinese language proficiency?
This paper will focus on the aspect of parents’ practices and the children’s language proficiency (research question 3 and 4).
The approach of mixed methods is used in this research. There are two major methodological concerns. The measurement of the children‘s language proficiency and the measurement of the parents‘ attitudes and practices. With respect to the measurement of the language proficiency, YCT (Youth Chinese Test) is applied. It is a state-level standardized test for non-native speakers of Chinese and internationally authoritative test of Chinese language proficiency. YCT is targeted at young and usually students of primary or secondary school, and is provided in four levels. YCT level IV is used in this research, based on the suggestions obtained through observation of the children, talking with parents and the Chinese teachers and pre-tests of level I to IV with children not included in the main study. With respect to the measurement of parents’ attitudes and practice, a mixed-method approach is used to draw a holistic picture. 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). Parent questionnaire consists of 3 parts. Information of children, information of parents on their background, attitudes and practices in Chinese language maintenance and practices and a survey on the attitude to bilingualism scale adapted from Bakers, 1992 of parents. The qualitative data is collected by a semi-structured interview on parents’ experiences, feelings, expectations and strategies concerning the language development of their children. Data collection This study recruits families with target children ranging in age from 8 to 10 who were born or moved to Germany before age 3 and are being educated in Germany. Interviewed parents are the parents of the families who accompany children in Chinese learning. The data collection has been through 18 months. 63 families from 4 Weekend Chinese schools have been enrolled in the study and completed the questionnaires and interviews of the parents. 59 children have participated in the language tests. Data analysis The parents’ questionnaire applies methods for the quantitative analysis of data with small samples. Language tests are 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. 30 families are selected for the present phase of data analysis.
Findings With the on-going project, this unstudied group started to be unveiled with the aim to explore how the Chinese maintain their heritage language. With first-phase of data analysis, it shows that there exists a shared value of the Chinese language among the Chinese immigrants. They commonly hold a positive attitude and generally have quite high expectations on their children’s Chinese proficiency and a continuum of expectations has been seen. This can be reflected in their practices in the children’s Chinese language with investment and various strategies. Meanwhile, concerns also widely exist in Chinese families. Expected outcome The contribution to ECER will rely on the ongoing data analysis of interviews with 30 families and the language test. This paper will indicate the interim findings of the study, concerning the aspects of parents’ practice on the Chinese language proficiency of their children at the moment of the test • Practices and strategies of literacy support ; • Practices in the family and the corresponding language proficiency of the children With ongoing interpretation of data, some parents are to be approached to collect further data in order to get interpretative explanation to their answers in the previous interview. Language attitudes and practice is to be correlated to the language proficiency in further analysis. The outcomes are expected be displayed in the paper session of ECER 2020. 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.
Federal Institute for Population Research.(2017). Zuwanderung aus außereuropäischen Ländern fast verdoppelt ,Mar. 2017 from 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 Federal Statistical Office of Germany. (2018). from https://www.destatis.de/EN/FactsFigures/SocietyState/Population/Population.html Gibbons, J., & Ramirez, E. (2004). Maintaining a Minority Language: A Case Study of Hispanic Teenagers. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Gu, A.(2-13)德国中学汉语教学现状及策略思考[A]. .世界汉语教学学会通讯2013年第3期（总第20期）[C].:世界汉语教学学会,2013:5. 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. Zhang, X. (2011) 欧洲汉语能力标准再探
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