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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29926

Title: Canadian School-aged Heritage Language Learners' Patterns of Language Use, Proficiency and Beliefs about Learning their Two Languages
Authors: Jean, Maureen
Advisor: Geva, Esther
Department: Human Development and Applied Psychology
Keywords: heritage language
children
maintenance
Issue Date: 31-Aug-2011
Abstract: The present dissertation examined the language use, proficiency and beliefs of child heritage language learners (HLLs) from Spanish and Chinese heritage language (HL) backgrounds exposed to English as a second language (L2) upon school entry (N=63). Data were collected via HL and L2 proficiency measures and a semi-structured interview and pictorial measure, during the primary years, a period noted for HL loss (Wong Fillmore, 1991). Study 1 focused on patterns of language input and use in children’s lives. Children mostly used L2 in their activities and in their interactions with siblings, cousins and peers. With parents, grandparents and older relatives, children mostly used HL. Study 2 investigated children’s proficiency and changes in proficiency across HL and L2 language and literacy domains. Children appraised their HL oral language skills at low to moderate levels, and viewed their HL literacy skills as very low. Contrarily, their appraisals of L2 skills were uniformly high across all domains. Children demonstrated limited HL proficiency, whereas they demonstrated moderate L2 skills in all domains. Concordance between perceived and demonstrated proficiency was low, with only one in three children accurate in their self-evaluations. While children indicated loss, stability and growth in their HL skills equally, most children indicated growth in L2 skills since beginning school. Children demonstrated growth in HL oral language and reading and in all L2 domains. Qualitative analysis indicated that children overwhelmingly referenced markers of language and literacy skill in explanations of their appraisals. Other attributions for proficiency and changes in proficiency included assistance from others, different learning approaches, the influence of language environments, and feedback received from others. Study 3 investigated children’s affects and beliefs in relation to HL and L2 situations. Positive affect was associated with listening and speaking HL in the home context, and with L2 across all domains and contexts. Skill in the domain or language was a common rationale for children’s affective responses to language and literacy situations. Children also associated their affect with interest in the target domain/language, availability of assistance, membership in language groups and the influence of language environments. Considerations for further research with this population and recommendations for relevant parties are discussed.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29926
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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