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1 Positive attitudes are not enough: Minority language survival in the Canadian Prairies Jaya Nagpal & Elena Nicoladis University of Alberta.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Positive attitudes are not enough: Minority language survival in the Canadian Prairies Jaya Nagpal & Elena Nicoladis University of Alberta."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Positive attitudes are not enough: Minority language survival in the Canadian Prairies Jaya Nagpal & Elena Nicoladis University of Alberta

2 2 Why care about Minority language survival? Visible expression of peoples ethnicity Visible expression of peoples ethnicity Parent-child relationships in immigrant families Parent-child relationships in immigrant families Cognitive benefits Cognitive benefits Economic benefits Economic benefits

3 3 Canadian context

4 4 Multiculturalism within a bilingual framework External services to people in both French and English External services to people in both French and English Balanced participation of English-speaking and French-speaking people in public services Balanced participation of English-speaking and French-speaking people in public services Freedom of choice in the language at work Freedom of choice in the language at work

5 5 Attitudes towards Minority groups and Minority Languages Acceptance of multiculturalism and high tolerance for diverse cultural groups Acceptance of multiculturalism and high tolerance for diverse cultural groups Parents in immigrant families hold positive attitudes about Minority language retention. Parents in immigrant families hold positive attitudes about Minority language retention.

6 6 Language shift 1 st generation: Learn English but prefer to use ML at home 1 st generation: Learn English but prefer to use ML at home 2 nd generation: Bilinguals, more fluent in English and prefer to speak English 2 nd generation: Bilinguals, more fluent in English and prefer to speak English 3 rd generation: More fluent in English and use English at home 3 rd generation: More fluent in English and use English at home

7 7 Factors that prevent language shift Family and people in the close social network Family and people in the close social network Media Media Motivation to learn a Minority Langauge Motivation to learn a Minority Langauge Community organizations Community organizations

8 8 Context of this study Edmonton, Canada Edmonton, Canada French is the second most commonly spoken minority language: 7.7% French is the second most commonly spoken minority language: 7.7% South Asians: 1.9% South Asians: 1.9%

9 9 Resources for learning French Five elementary schools and 2 high schools aimed at teaching native French children Five elementary schools and 2 high schools aimed at teaching native French children French immersion program in 15 schools French immersion program in 15 schools French language university programs French language university programs One French day-care center One French day-care center Several French day-homes Several French day-homes Part-time preschool programs in French Part-time preschool programs in French

10 10 Participants 34 French-speaking families 34 French-speaking families –Average age of children: 3.5 years –Canadian citizens –Same mother tongue for parents: 45.5% 31 South Asian immigrant families 31 South Asian immigrant families –Average age of children 4.3 years –Canadian citizens (62.3%), Immigrants (35.5%) –Same mother tongue for parents: 100%

11 11 Research questions Attitudes towards maintaining the ML Attitudes towards maintaining the ML Language use at home Language use at home Choice of language of media for children Choice of language of media for children Involvement in activities in the minority language outside of home. Involvement in activities in the minority language outside of home.

12 12 Language Fluency FrenchMLEnglishBoth Mothers Fathers SA Mothers Fathers

13 13 Expectations for language use What language you want that your children should speak with their children? What language you want that your children should speak with their children? What language do you think that your children will speak with their children? What language do you think that your children will speak with their children? What language do you think your children will speak as adults? What language do you think your children will speak as adults?

14 14 Expectations for language use What language you want that your children should speak with their children? What language you want that your children should speak with their children? What language do you think that your children will speak with their children? What language do you think that your children will speak with their children? What language do you think your children will speak as adults? What language do you think your children will speak as adults?

15 15 Expectations for Language retention Parents in both groups wanted their children to retain their ML Parents in both groups wanted their children to retain their ML Parents in SA families were less hopeful than their French counterparts that they will be able to maintain their ML Parents in SA families were less hopeful than their French counterparts that they will be able to maintain their ML

16 16 Expectations about language use

17 17 Language choice of parents In both groups parents prefer to talk to their children in their ML In both groups parents prefer to talk to their children in their ML

18 18 Language choice of parents

19 19 Language choice of parents In both groups parents prefer to talk to their children in their ML In both groups parents prefer to talk to their children in their ML French French –Most parents talk to each other in the ML SA SA –Most parents talk to each other in the ML

20 20 Language choice of children In both groups most children talk to their parents in the ML In both groups most children talk to their parents in the ML More children in SA families use English when talking to their parents More children in SA families use English when talking to their parents

21 21 Language choice of children

22 22 Language choice of children In both groups most children talk to their parents in the ML In both groups most children talk to their parents in the ML More children in SA families use English when talking to their parents More children in SA families use English when talking to their parents In French children talk to their siblings in ML but in SA families children talk to their siblings in English In French children talk to their siblings in ML but in SA families children talk to their siblings in English

23 23 Language of media for children

24 24 Results Both groups had positive attitudes about ML survival Both groups had positive attitudes about ML survival South Asians are less hopeful of retaining their ML South Asians are less hopeful of retaining their ML –Perceived utility of a language –Support for a language in the outside community –Experience

25 25 Results Cont.. In SA families parents switch to English while talking to their children In SA families parents switch to English while talking to their children Children show a preference for English in SA families Children show a preference for English in SA families More exposure to ML media in French than in SA families More exposure to ML media in French than in SA families More exposure to ML activities in French families More exposure to ML activities in French families

26 26 Suggestions for retaining ML Motivating parents to make efforts to retain the ML Motivating parents to make efforts to retain the ML Providing media in ML Providing media in ML School boards can contract a person or agency for ML education as per the community needs School boards can contract a person or agency for ML education as per the community needs Setting up day-cares and day-homes in ML Setting up day-cares and day-homes in ML Informal organizations for promotion of ML Informal organizations for promotion of ML

27 27 Expectations about language use

28 28 Choice of language of parents

29 29 Choice of language of children


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