Department of Education Ben-Gurion University Beer-Sheva & Department of Learning Disabilities University of Haifa
Exploring the Relationship between Family Language Policy and Heritage Language Knowledge among Second Generation of Russian-Jewish Immigrants in Israel
The family unit and home domain have been and remain important in heritage language maintenance efforts (De Houwer, 1999; Fishman, 1991; Okita, 2002). There may be complex relationships between parental language attitudes, their application in everyday language management activities, and the children's knowledge of home language vocabulary. The present larch-scale study examined the family policy factors affecting first language (L1) maintenance among second generation Russian-Jewish immigrants in Israel in light of Spolsky's (2004) model of language policy.
Participants in the study were 70 Russian-Hebrew speaking children with a mean age of 7,2 (years, months). After investigating the factors that influence Russian vocabulary knowledge, I constructed a composite measure of Russian lexical knowledge. In addition, a parents' and children's structured questionnaires were developed to collect data on language policy at home. The results attest to the crucial role of teaching literate L1 in both family and non-formal educational settings and of the children's positive approach toward home language acquisition in home language retention. A range of non-linguistic factors (demographic, social, and cultural) creates a favorable background for the survival of the heritage language among emigrants. At the same time, the data reveal inconsistencies in language policy at home as well as a tendency toward the co-existence of the first and second languages.
De Houwer, A. (1999) Environmental Factors in Early Bilingual Development: the Role of Parental Beliefs and Attitudes. In G. Extra and L. Verhoeven (eds) Bilingualism and Migration (pp. 75-96). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Fishman, J. A. (1991) Reversing Language Shift: Theoretical and Empirical Foundations of Assistance to Threatened Languages. Clevendon: Multilingual Matters.
Okita, T. (2002) Invisible Work: Bilingualism, Language Choice and Childrearing in intermarried families. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Spolsky, B. (2004) Language Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Session: Paper session
History / Planning and Policy
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 13:45-15:15