309 – Consistent and persistent: Parents’ voices for successful home language maintenance

Presentation - ECV2022-309

Consistent and persistent: Parents’ voices for successful home language maintenance

Van H. Tran,Charles Sturt University, Australia (vtran@csu.edu.au)
Sarah Verdon,Charles Sturt University, Australia (sverdon@csu.edu.au)
Sharynne McLeod,Charles Sturt University, Australia (smcleod@csu.edu.au)

Background: Successful home language maintenance is dependent on parents’ use of their home language with their children. Many parents are not aware of the importance of intergenerational home language maintenance and supportive strategies.

Aim: To understand successful experiences of home language maintenance of Vietnamese-Australian families.

Method: Informed by Spolsky’s language policy theory, the paper draws upon a focus group discussion of seven parents from five families whose children achieved high bilingual proficiency scores on the speech and language assessment of the Australian Research Council’s VietSpeech research to explore strategies for home language maintenance.

Results: Thematic analysis of the bilingual transcription revealed four themes: motivations, challenges, practices, and recommendations for home language maintenance support. Parents’ motivations for home language maintenance included communication with grandparents and relatives, maintenance of cultural identity, parents’ need to speak their home language, and the cognitive and emotional benefits. Challenges faced by the families were related to children starting school and growing older, parents’ lack of time and persistence, and insufficient support in terms of formal Vietnamese education, resources, and teacher quality. Families’ strategies for successful language maintenance included speaking Vietnamese all the time, teaching Vietnamese directly using textbooks and indirectly through regular activities including book reading, daily interactions, and watching Vietnamese TV. Parents’ recommendations focused on changes in language education policy and advocacy, better resources, and raising awareness of the benefits of home language maintenance.

Conclusions: This study provides insights into the successful experience of home language maintenance of Vietnamese-Australian families and can be used by multilingual families, policy makers, educators, speech-language pathologists and other professionals to support home language maintenance.

Implications for children and families: Successful home language maintenance requires consistent and persistent efforts.

Implications for practitioners: You can advise and encourage multilingual parents to consistently and persistently use their home language with their children.

Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (DP DP180102848); Australian Postgraduate Awards Scholarship at Charles Sturt University

Key words: families’ voices, communication, international communities, qualitative methods, home language maintenance, cultural identity, Vietnamese, bilingual

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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