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Davis & Harris

Supporting intergenerational language transmission through the physical and digital landscapes of early childhood centres: a necessity for equity today

Niki Davis, Leona Harris and the Emergent Bilinguals in the Digital World research team
University of Canterbury e-Learning Lab

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Cite as: Davis, N. & Harris, L. (2018, December). Supporting intergenerational language transmission through the physical and digital landscapes of early childhood centres: A necessity for equity today. Paper presented at the Fourth Intergenerational Transmission of Minority Languages Symposium: Language and Identity.

Today, landscapes that we inhabit blend the physical and digital. Linguistic landscapes are expressions of formal and informal language policy and may influence whānau (family) language practices. Our research illustrates the ways in which linguistic landscapes of early childhood education (ECE) centres evolve, and explores the related co-evolution with digital technologies (Davis 2018). Around a decade ago ECE centres rapidly adopted digital tools such as iPads and ePortfolios to support children’s learning and since then teachers’ work has evolved so that children may access a healthy blend of their physical and digital worlds. Our National Science Challenges research, E Tipu e Rea, A Better Start, has uncovered opportunities and challenges of the digital world for all learners, focusing on emergent bilinguals. Bilingualism brings lifelong benefits that are particularly valuable to challenged learners, their whānau and communities. Multilingualism is embedded within our exemplary Te Whāriki ECE curriculum in Aotearoa New Zealand. We have evidence from six participating ECE centres of the visibility of home languages within the children’s physical and digital environments and how visibility was enhanced over time, indicating a significant impact of our research. Our recommendations include improvements to policy at local and national levels.

Gvelesiani & Mumladze

Translanguaging and intergenerational transmission:  Effective tools for the maintenance of language and identity

Irina Gvelesiani and Eteri Mumladze

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Cite as: Gvelesiani, I. & Mumladze, E. (2018, December). Translanguaging and intergenerational transmission:  Effective tools for the maintenance of language and identity. Paper presented at the Fourth Intergenerational Transmission of Minority Languages Symposium: Language and Identity.

Contemporary globalising processes result in the emergence of new stereotypes and strategies of coexistence of different nations. The motto “Unity in Diversity” has crossed the world and made a deep impact on the dialogue between migrants, ethnic minorities and indigenous population. Translanguaging/plurilingualism and intergenerational transmission have become vital tools for the safeguarding of linguistic minorities (native-speakers of Armenian, Azerbaijani and Russian) that have a cultural life at the core of their collective identities. The paper presents progressive state policies of the Republic of Georgia directed towards the integration of ethnic minorities into the Georgian society. It “uncovers” the existence of growing linguistic and cultural diversity due to the historic transnational migration and highlights an utmost importance of the establishment of multilingual educational strategies aimed at teaching the state language as well as the mother tongue of ethnic minorities for the safeguarding of their languages, cultures and even religion. Multilingualism as well as multiliteracy is discussed in the light of a successful “collaboration” of intergenerational transmission and classroom activities. The former deals with the language shift within families of ethnic minorities, while the latter investigates the role of well-organized in-class activities. The paper presents certain insights into multilingual education and makes specific proposals considering the reformation of teaching models and tools (shifting to multimedia facilities, CLIL approach, etc.), because through the use of tools or linguistic resources “individuals negotiate the meaning of their social positions and emerging identities”.

Said & AlGhamdi

Development of minority language literacy at home: The case of an Arabic-English speaking family

Fatma Said & Fatimah AlGhamdi
Goldsmiths, University of London/University of York & Southampton University

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Cite as: Said, F. & AlGhamdi, F. (2018, December). Development of minority language literacy at home: The case of an Arabic-English speaking family. Paper presented at the Fourth Intergenerational Transmission of Minority Languages Symposium: Language and Identity.

For many transnational families ensuring their children become literate in their minority language is of paramount importance (Li, 2006; Lindholm-Leary, 2012; Berens, Kovelman, & Pettito, 2013; Eisenchalas, Shally & Guillemin, 2013). Parents feel that is important their children attain biliteracy and are able to read both or all of their languages (Ro & Cheatham, 2009), so as to communicate with older family members or access canonical and religious works in their minority language(s). The case of a diglossic language like Arabic poses challenges to parents because the child must learn the spoken language and then learn to read the formal written language (Walldoff, 2017; Said & AlGhamdi, in prep). This ethnographic sociolinguistic study focuses on the home literacy practices of an Arabic-English speaking family in the UK.  Data was collected over 24 months (and is still ongoing) through either video or audio recordings and some has been transcribed. The data suggest that the home linguistic environment plays a crucial role in the development of literacy in Arabic, the mother take it upon herself to designate particular times during the week and the father on weekends to overtly teach and monitor the literacy development of their children. The eldest daughter (the focus of this presentation) teaches her younger sibling to also become biliterate (Obeid, 2009; Bridges, 2014; Kheirkhah, 2016). This paper contributes to the growing literature on family language policy and introduced new knowledge about Arabic literacy.


Intergenerational transmission of traditional Arabic dialects in Israel

Letizia Cerqueglini

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Cite as: Cerqueglini, L. (2018, December). Intergenerational transmission of traditional Arabic dialects in Israel. Paper presented at the Fourth Intergenerational Transmission of Minority Languages Symposium: Language and Identity.

I compare patterns of intergenerational transmission of traditional dialects (TD) across different Arabic-speaking communities in Israel. Traditional local Arabic dialects – spoken by the elders above the age of 70 – include Bedouin, rural, and urban varieties, to a great extent not mutually intelligible. Cross-dialectal mutual intelligibility increases among younger people working in public institutions or state companies and educated in standard Arabic, Hebrew and other modern languages. University life largely contributes to the constitution of a koineized Palestinian educated standard, wherein phonetic and morphological features of each community diminish and fade. Specific lexical inventories that describe the traditional material life, cultural practices, and geographic milieus of every linguistic community are also vanishing under the influence of a modern life style. I compare three dialectal groups: the urban Christian Arabic of Nazareth (Galilee), the rural Muslim Arabic of Kfar Qāsim (Muṯallaṯ) and the Bedouin Arabic of Kseyfeh (Negev). I analyze the following parameters among elders and young people: recognition of TD as part of the identity; motivation for transmitting/learning TD; social factors that prevent/foster TD transmission; social occasions of TD transmission; impact of the number of speakers and of the use of the dialect in literature and media on TD transmission.

Reath Warren

Reported linguistic practices among high school students studying mother tongues/ community languages in Sweden and Australia

Anne Reath Warren

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Cite as: Reath Warren, A. (2018, December). Reported linguistic practices among high school students studying mother tongues/ community languages in Sweden and Australia. Paper presented at the Fourth Intergenerational Transmission of Minority Languages Symposium: Language and Identity.

This presentation focuses on descriptions of language use among high school students studying Arabic, Kurdish, Turkish and Urdu through mother tongue instruction in Sweden, and Vietnamese as a community language in Australia.  Mother tongue instruction in Sweden is an elective school subject available to students who speak languages other than Swedish on a regular basis with at least one guardian. In Australia, community language schools, run by volunteers and often operating on weekends, provide the opportunity to study and develop proficiencies in languages other than English to students who speak these languages with their guardians. Informed by emerging theories of translanguaging as everyday practice and pedagogy, transcriptions of four focus group discussions with 33 students in both these forms of education were analysed to explore how they describe their language use in different contexts. Further, similarities and differences in these student descriptions are discussed in relation to local and national language education policies. Preliminary analysis suggests that when students are not restrained by family or school language policies, they flexibly and strategically draw on a variety of linguistic resources, thus  facilitating communication, creating meaning, and reflecting their complex and dynamic plurilingual identities.


Keywords: mother tongue instruction; community language education; translanguaging, plurilingual identities


“Acadian” in the Saint John Valley, Maine: Mother tongue or marketing?

Carly Bahler

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Cite as: Bahler, C. (2018, December).“Acadian” in the Saint John Valley, Maine: Mother tongue or marketing? Paper presented at the Fourth Intergenerational Transmission of Minority Languages Symposium: Language and Identity. doi: 10.6084/m9.figshare.7409300

Francophones of the Saint John Valley (SJV) occupy an international region between Maine and New Brunswick (NB), Canada and the French they speak is largely the product of contact among the Acadian French of NB (brayon), French of nearby Quebec, and English. In the SJV, Maine, a history of repression and lack of institutional support means that this minority language is dying, with older speakers not (fully) transmitting it to younger generations. Though French is in decline in the SJV, Maine, there are still various celebrations and proclamations of Acadian identity, an identity which is largely simplistic given the historical Quebecois presence in the region. The state of French in Maine is intimately tied to how its heritage speakers identify themselves, the (non-)valuing of their variety, and how they exploit “Acadian” identity in the name of symbolic ethnicity all while facing the fact that they are losing their French. In a region where ethnolinguistic labels abound (e.g. Valley French, Franglais, Acadian, Brayon, Quebecois, French Canadian, Franco-American, New England French), which label is most appropriate and how does the fluidity with which “Acadian” is used in the SJV compare to “Cajun” in Louisiana, a sister variety also in decline? After briefly providing some linguistic evidence for the Quebecois presence in the SJV, Maine, this talk will focus on how French speakers in the SJV identify themselves, and how this identity compares to other French enclaves in the US.


The Sardinia Literary Spring and Intergenerational Transmission

Valentina Concu
Purdue University

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Cite as: Concu, V. (2018, December). The Sardinia Literary Spring and Intergenerational Transmission. Paper presented at the Fourth Intergenerational Transmission of Minority Languages Symposium: Language and Identity.

Sardinian is a minority language spoken on the island of Sardinia by ca. one million speakers and it is classified today as an endangered language, as the “ability to speak Sardinian has declined from about 80% as ‘very good’ in the parental generation to less than 50% recording the same level of ability for their siblings” (Salminen, 1993). The status of Sardinian as endangered language is strictly related to the lack of intergenerational transmission (Mensching, 2000), whose roots can be found in the strong relationship between language and identity, as “intergenerational transmission […] is clearly affected by language ideologies” (Campell & Christian, 2003, p.4). Due to historical and political events, Sardinian has gained a different social status in comparison to Italian, which overlaps with the subordinated role that the island has played and still plays today in the Italian geopolitics. The decline of the number of Sardinian speakers can be seen then as a vivid example of the effects of idealization processes on language perception, use, and maintenance. However, together with some regional regulations passed by the government in recent years aimed to “rescue” Sardinian (Maxia, 2017), the authors of the so-called Sardinian Literary Spring are also playing a key role in the restore of its prestige. In this paper, I argue that authors such as Marcello Fois, Salvatore Niffoi, and Milena Agus, with their linguistic choices, are contributing to the intergenerational transmission of a cultural and linguistic heritage that would get lost otherwise. This study focuses specifically on those strategies and linguistic elements used by the authors of the Sardinian Literary Spring that are contributing today to the maintenance and transmission of Sardinian.


Ellis, E.M., Sims, M & Knox, V. (2018) The challenge of isolation in immigrant family language maintenance in regional Australia. Pages 17-35.

The critical factor determining whether children of immigrants become bilingual is strong family and community support for, and use of, the home language(s) alongside English (Pauwels, 2005). It is well accepted that children of immigrant parents often undergo language shift to English (Clyne & Kipp, 1996), that bilingualism is a cognitive and social asset to children (Wong Fillmore, 2000) and that maintaining “potential for belonging” (Bilbatua & Ellis, 2011) is a powerful motivator for families to maintain the home language. As yet, however, we know little about how bilingual families in isolated circumstances in regional Australia manage the task of passing on their home language in the absence of a co-located speech community.
This paper focuses on the challenges and impacts associated with isolation for plurilingual families in small towns in regional Australia. In this paper, selected findings are presented from a larger research project (the base study, titled ‘Bilingualism in the Bush) tracking the experiences of plurilingual families with pre-school-aged children in three regional towns over a three-year period. This paper explores each family’s language goals, aspirations, beliefs and practices. Findings reported here are that families struggle, facing extra pressures brought on by isolation from other speakers of the home language, that extended family relationships, often crucial to bilingual acquisition, can be problematic and not necessarily available for language support, and that the demands of work and study exacerbate the problems of isolation.

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Yousef, A. & Taylor-Leech, K. (2018). “It would be nice if someone took the load off you” Arabic-speaking new-Australian mothers and the challenges of heritage language maintenance. Pages 1-16

Despite a general expectation for immigrants to Australia to shift quickly to the use of English, many new-Australian families maintain strong attachments to their heritage languages. Little research has explored how recently arrived families of Arabic-speaking background in Australia preserve their heritage language while acquiring proficiency in English. In this paper, we report on part of a study that explored the family language policies of four Arab-Australian mothers as they negotiated their new language reality. Focus groups and semi-structured interviews revealed that the participating mothers considered it vitally important for their children to be proficient in both English and Arabic and they employed a range of strategies for developing their children’s bilingualism. However, they also acknowledged that maintaining their children’s heritage language could be difficult and stressful. Our paper offers insights into family language policy and the challenges of heritage language maintenance for bilingual immigrant mothers in assimilationist contexts.

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Amstadter, Logan M., ”“If you wanted me to speak your language then you should have stayed in your country”: a critical ethnography of linguistic identity and resiliency in the life of an Afghan refugee” (2018). EWU Masters Thesis Collection. 484. Full text

Nasreen and her family had not wanted to leave their native Afghanistan, but when the Taliban’s violence forced them to seek refuge in Iran, Nasreen found herself a teenager on the outskirts of Tehran. Discrimination, lack of opportunity, and an unwelcoming environment compelled her to make the dangerous overland journey from Iran to Turkey along with her husband, her brother, and her two sons. Now, they have asylum in the United States, where Nasreen is thriving—earning a degree at a community college and translating for other members of her community. Refusing to dwell on the past and enduringly optimistic about the future, Nasreen has demonstrated remarkable resilience despite the tremendously difficult circumstances of forced migration. Based on several interviews with Nasreen, I have come to believe that her decision to maintain her heritage language has been a stabilizing force in her life and a key component of her resilience as a refugee, as a stranger, and as a mother. Functioning as both a symbolic and actual means of transnational connection, Nasreen’s use of her ethnic language is how she remains connected to her family back in Iran, who she desperately hopes will someday join her in the United States. In a life that has stretched across four countries and been dominated
by circumstances beyond her control, her language choice is also how she claims agency over her identity. This stability, in turn, empowers Nasreen to cultivate a dual identity that allows her to acculturate into American society and maintain a cultural integrity that is coherent with her worldview and sense of self. Finally, Nasreen’s use of her mother tongue with her children—even though they refuse to speak it back—enables her to mother them in her most authentic way and to remain connected with them as they grow up in a culture vastly different from her own. This study will hopefully engender empathy and admiration for Nasreen and the millions of refugees like her who, despite immense adversity, somehow manage to thrive as strangers in a strange land, spirits intact.