The role of parents in heritage language maintenance and development

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Drawing on two ethnographic studies on Chinese immigrant families’ home literacy practices, this chapter addresses the issue of Heritage language (HL) loss and the role of parents in facilitating immigrant children’s HL maintenance and development in the home milieu. The results indicate that the parents as well as their ethnic communities play a significant role in their children’s HL maintenance, and they employ a variety of strategies and resources to facilitate their children’s first language learning. However, due to the lack of mainstream school and societal support, the parents experience different barriers in fostering the children’s positive attitudes toward HL learning, and their actions often did not match their beliefs. These findings suggest that relying on parents alone cannot help the immigrant children become bicultural and biliterate.More institutional support from policy makers and schools is needed.


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