The Multifaceted Aspects of Language Maintenance: A New Measure for its Assessment in Immigrant Families

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Abstract

Patterns of language maintenance among immigrants have been researched widely, and lie at the core of daily life for immigrant families. The present study reports on a questionnaire developed to assess various aspects of language maintenance, focusing on parent–child communication. Parents and children of 307 immigrant families living in Sydney, Australia, were asked about their use of and preference for language in a range of contexts involving communication between parents and children. Factor analyses of the questionnaires revealed distinct dimensions for parents and children. The parent sample showed evidence of domain separation, with a greater tendency toward use of and preference for the mother tongue in intimate interactions, as opposed to the public domain, where the tendency to use English was higher. No distinction emerged across domains between use of and preference for language. In contrast, use of and preference for language in the children's sample emerged as distinct facets of language maintenance, with no indication of domain separation. Children reported using their parents' mother tongue more than they would prefer to in general, and more with their mother than with their father in particular.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-393
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
Volume6
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2003

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