Kategoriarkiv: 2016

Problems experienced by parents and carers in raising children bilingually

At a Parent and carer workshop on raising children bilingually on 3rd November 2016,  we asked participants to share problems they have experienced on post-its and pass them to the front. This was originally a post in the LATL-lab blog. It has been republished here to ensure it remains available in the event of the LATL-lab site being shut down.

3rd LATL-lab workshop, November 2016

Here they are! We will be addressing some of these problems parents and carers have experienced raising children bilingually in these pages, and we will link to answers as we compose them. Meanwhile, take a look at our sister site on Growing up with Two Languages.

  1. Not enough people to practice the language with.
  2. I am not a native Japanese speaker, so my husband feels it is unnatural speaking Japanese as a family at home- this makes it hard for him to choose Japanese. As I speak Japanese as 2nd language I often struggle with confidence.
  3. I am a grandmother. My son’s wife is Dutch, and they are speaking Dutch to their child. I don’t speak Dutch, so how can I support a child growing up in New Zealand with a Dutch-speaking mother?
  4. If you speak with broken English people assume you to be less smart.
  5. How do I make sure my son can explain himself in day care? When he needs something he mostly uses Persian words! When other kids talk with him in English, he can’t communicate well in English which I am not sure if that affect his self-esteem. He just turned two.
  6. Afraid that child will not be able to speak English and not able to communicate with people outside.
  7. Kids do not like to learn home language. We don’t have or it is difficult to find materials. Poor teaching skills.
  8. In-laws being “afraid” or against the minority language.
  9. Only one parent speaks the language and it is the father. No other families speak the language. It is easier to speak English than French.
  10. Partner doesn’t speak my language, so I tend to speak in English most of my time.
  11. As children get older, avoiding talking to the parent because it’s too hard and they know they’re allowed to speak English to other parent.
  12. How to let a child get used to a second language as quicker as possible?
  13. Create a Chinese speaking environment for children.
  14. Those who don’t understand don’t like hearing me speaking the language.
  15. 168 languages spoken in NZ. Intergenerational transmission has been interrupted.
  16. Teachers not knowing or using the minority language.
  17. Only fluent parent passed away. Immigrant families put into preschools with no English comprehension.
  18. Husband not understanding the second language. Not able to communicate effectively with others who don’t speak my language.
  19. Expectation you can speak more of the majority language only when say “hello” or thank you in their language. Parent, teachers and my children only want to speak English.
  20. Explaining forms to families that don’t speak English.
  21. English speaking parent desperately wanting to speak minority languages but , minority language speakers switch constantly to English, or excluded from minority speaking, events as they don’t want English influence.
  22. From teacher to parent on phone is often quite hard as you cannot use non-verbal cues etc. that you use face to face.
  23. Embarrassment and confusion between English and home language.  No English speaking parent.
  24. Daughter is at primary school and friends and everything is in English. I feel like can’t speak our language in front of others. Fear of my kids feeling ashamed to speak their home language.
  25. Parents do not speak the native language. Fear of child hearing me as a parent speaking English to other children, afraid he will start speaking English with me instead of the minority language.
  26. How to teach our children Chinese structurally?  Send them to Chinese school because we only speak and talk Chinese at home, but what to do with reading and writing.
  27. Proficiency in speaking the minority language as a second language learner. Using Te reo Maori confidently in public in a way that makes the learners comfortable.
  28. I want my husband to understand when I speak to our kids from a mother speaking a minority language not spoken by my husband.
  29. Not a lot of options available. E.g. my child goes to Japanese school every Saturday; it is that only Japanese school. If he doesn’t fit in that school, I won’t have any other option to get support from. It also costs a lot.
  30. Parents don’t speak each other’s native language, like husband is Korean and wife is Chinese.
  31. One parent feels left out because he doesn’t understand minority language. As bilingual speakers being afraid of native speakers making mistakes. My daughter replied in English. Do I insist on her replying in minority?
  32. We are reluctant to speak our home language in front of others. It needs education of society to become more normal.
  33. Access to other families of the same stage to help support children family language. Language is potentially going to be only an isolated thing.
  34. Child understands minority language but replies in English. Child prefers songs in English.
  35. Not enough exposure e.g. books, shows, friends that speak my language. So I forget and I am not motivated.
  36. Even though mom speaks the minority language to her daughter, the child doesn’t speak it and always answers in the majority language.

Do you recognise these problems? I certainly do! Feel free to offer some suggestions yourself in the comments to this post. Write the number of the problem(s) you are responding to. Check our past events page to find out about other workshops the LATL-lab has arranged.

Motivating reluctant children to use the minority language

motivating children to speak a home language
LATL-lab workshop 15 September 2016 for parents and carers on motivating children to speak a home language

In September 2016 the LATL-lab held a workshop at the University of Canterbury for parents and carers on Motivating reluctant children to speak a home language. This was the second workshop of three in 2016 for parents and carers. This post was originally published on the LATL-lab blog and is reproduced here to ensure it continues to be available in the event of that site being shut down.

The participants were invited to share their ideas for increasing the input children get in the minority language, and increasing the children’s need to use the language.

motivating strategies
Motivating strategies to help children use the minority language

Here are a selection of the suggestions shared by participants about how to create opportunities for children to have more language input and interaction

At home

  • Use software to increase language input: interactive games/ apps in target language on iphones, ipads computers
  • Smart phone, TV in home language
  • Switch electronic devices to the target language
  • Interactive toys that speak the minority language

Online interaction with native speakers (relatives or friends)

  • Video conference (Skype) with monolingual  family members
  • Skype time with relatives & other kids in the other country
  • Bring the iPad with Skype conversation into the lego box to join the children’s play

Reading books, magazines or other materials

  • Reading books in minority language
  • Magazine subscriptions (Paper or online)
  • Audio books – Buy or borrow from libraries Swap with other families
  • Comic books written in the minority language, they will be motivated to know how to read
  • Carer reading story books and recasting it into the minority language
  • Book club in the minority language


  • Arrange minority language teaching classes with the help of some other families with the same language
  • Send the child to community language school if it exists
  • Alliance Francaise/ Confucius/ Goethe institute
  • Parent can visit the class at school
  • Private language lessons appropriate for their ages
  • Access to other children of the same culture Build a network of friends in minority language
  • Play groups with minority languages (coffee together for carers!)
  • Community groups and cultural community based activities
  • Community church
  • Games – Play groups in home language
  • Preparing a short speech or song to be presented in the community gatherings
  • Join the Vietnamese events – that improves both the language and culture knowledge
  • Making gatherings and functions for those people who speak same language: eg independence celebrations, potluck dinner,
  • Share kai – traditional/ cultural food with other speakers of the minority language
  • Language weeks celebrated

Contact with the old country

  • Get children to write to monolinguals (pen/email pals, birthday cards to family members in home country)
  • Sending to parents who speak the minority language to stay there for a while, or home stay in minority language country or someone’s place in NZ

At home (notice the varying levels of ambition here, and that some families have more than one parent or carer who speaks the minority language, while others may be alone in their language with a partner who doesn’t speak their language)

  • Only speak native language at home. Strict rule!
  • Always speak minority language to anyone who speaks it, even outside home. Don’t worry about the English!
  • Let children hear the language all the time. Children automatically learn and understand the language spoken to them
  • Dinner time table talk in Maori/ Samoan only learn new phrases for this time Bath time/ Bed time
  • Getting majority language speaking parent to participate in minority language learning Making it a game!
  • A day of the week or time of the day when only minority language spoken
  • Create environment for the language: Make a language island and speak the language at home
  • Encourage children to chat at home in first language and find friends to interact with who also have the first language
  • Have a party with minority language theme
  • Getting mum + dad to speak Samoan to the kids
  • We as parents speaking our languages to children
  • Asking grandparents to speak only their language when we are around them
  • Ask other members of the family to encourage the child to speak mother language
  • Set aside a special time for an activity in L2 each day (something fun, eg making craft, story time/ singing nursery rhymes) keeps it current and fun for kids
  • Children have to speak minority language when they ask for buy things they want
  • Have a language day at home where you only speak one language eg during dinner or games
  • Strategies: In early childhood, have puppets to role play
  • Enrol them in a sports club that speaks minority language and  buy them video games of minority languages
  • Labels around the house to help children learn words
  • Karakia (prayers) written and at the dinner table
  • Celebrating special events for them
  • Participating minority language culture/game
  • Join cultural club in minority language Learn poems, songs, and rhymes
  • Use the minority language: Greetings, Music, Dancing, Food, Dressing up
  • Make a time for the language hour at home (Every Sunday morning or so)
  • Board games with language, can have other language speakers and they explain with certain idioms
  • Word games (I Spy, charades etc) with prizes Cultural classics and amazing moments in history, as told in target language
  • Creative play – using words

Traveling to where the target language is spoken

  • Travelling through South America to immerse in Spannish
  • Trip to iwi areas
  • Send him to my mum to only speak Swedish
  • To make friends with the same language children Back to our country for a while
  • Holiday back to china to enrol into a local school for a month
  • Shared holidays with other families
  • Going camping together

School activities and school strategies to motivate students

  • Pre-school or kindergarten in an international setting
  • School wide speech competition presentation – poetry or short story bilingually per term
  • Preparing for events at school where the kids are expected to use their home languages
  • A language week of their own culture within school setting
  • Find (or start) a local pre-school that teaches the language and culture
  • Sharing your culture language with teachers and children we want to learn more
  • Have language competition days
  • Involve school/ pre-school by assisting child to share their language with other kids using posters etc (eg body parts labelled)
  • sharing things about their culture with the older kids in school
  • parents participating in school activities and kids taking roles
  • Schooling: language cultural activities, ie Kapahaka

Materials for target language (CDs, videos, music, Youtube, radio)

  • Music in native language
  • Drama/cartoons/ films in native language
  • Web radio station – cheap and efficient can have it on all day
  • Nursery Rhymes
  • Watch TV programs: TV on demand
  • Digital music, movies (DVDs in Spanish), CDs in the car
  • Picnics and playing music and dancing
  • Maori television
  • YouTube – songs, Action songs
  • Waiata CDs
  • Friends/ family send videos of them
  • Songs are fabulous for children language development
  • Kids TV show: Find Samoan & Maori language programmes to watch
  • Video that children like and watch again and again
  • Show videos of other countries. They will know that there are other people that speak other languages to learn a minority language
  • Stories, songs, with gaps that the children fill
  • Watch video clips with them and strategically ask questions
  • Watch music videos and listening to music in that language
  • Encourage kids to learn nursery rhymes/songs from minority culture & play CDs so they can sing along

Strategies for motivating children (these won’t all suit all parenting styles and beliefs)

  • Encourage them to play and communicate with their peers
  • Encourage children to speak / learn own language
  • Pretend not to speak language – child helps parent
  • School teachers can encourage children to learn their language
  • Praise out loud especially for younger children. They are happy when we praise them
  • Letting child choose a movie or a game in minority language for a Friday family night treat
  • Using the language positively and not for correction Make  the language fun!
  • Showing the benefits opportunity of being bilingual eg business, travel, sports
  • Having more input at home, invite minority language speakers to come and visit
  • Pull and not push them towards the minority language
  • Make them proud of being bilingual, show that it’s special that they have access to things non-speakers don’t Build the self-esteem of the child
  • Lots of trips back home at least once a year
  • Reward children when they use the minority language
  • Appeal to heritage/ love of family/ ancestors’ identity
  • Make them feel speaking a second language is special and important
  • Give them a chance to use it and feel like it is important
  • Being responsive in expressing and hearing minority language spoken
  • Introduce our culture, like festivals, rituals, mysteries, stories to our children as early as possible, so they have attachment with their culture through the language
  • Support their interests eg baseball with children who speak the minority language
  • Bribe them Make your culture more fun to them
  • Build interest in some areas, for example, games in some areas of interest and learn language from there: Chinese chess for example
  • Fun things Eg Japanese animation Kids love them
  • Only respond to the child when the child speaks in the minority language Reform the child prior expectancy and response
  • Stickers – use for special acknowledgment
  • Satisfying for my son when he knows the words to sing along!
  • Recasting what they say in English into the minority language is better than pretending not to understand what they say
  • Helping teachers to learn basics of children’s home language
  • Treats for children when they speak the minority language
  • Dinner table language Get the food etc when use minority language
  • Having a family outing where we only speak the minority language
  • Cooking together & recipes
  • Nanny/ Au pair who only speaks French

This is a short made-for-the-web version of the presentation given that evening.

Proceedings of ITML2

Welcome to the Second Intergenerational Transmission of Minority Languages Symposium: Community Matters
A free asynchronous symposium, available online from 12 December 2016.

Convened by Una Cunningham and Jeanette King, University of Canterbury. This symposium is entirely online and asynchronous. There is no fee to view, or download  the presentations. The comments function has closed.  This proceedings site has been moved to its current location by Una Cunningham, Uppsala University, to ensure it will continue to be available to readers and viewers.

Ewan Pohe: Intragenerational immersion retreats: A Te Reo parent community of practice.

Andrea Schalley & Susana Eisenchlas: Intergenerational transmission of home languages in Australia – An uphill battle?

Shelley K. Taylor,  Jennifer A. Kozak, Sohel Chowdhury & Lina Dallal-Bachi: Translanguaging in identity texts for intergenerational transmission of Bengali, Farsi & Arabic: Canadian perspectives

Debmalya Biswas: Intergenerational transmission of Tinkarlo: A sociolinguistic scrutiny with regard to its inventory of conjunct verbs

Uldanai Bakhtikireeva & Olga Valikova: Translanguaging in Russia: Russian as a communicative bridge  for minority languages and cultures

Moira Saltzman: South Korean language policy and the erasure of Jejueo


South Korean language policy and the erasure of Jejueo

By Moira Saltzman

South Korea is considered one of the most linguistically homogenous countries worldwide, and this image is promulgated by governmental policies, the educational system, and linguistic scholars. In South Korean schools, the majority of classroom hours are allocated to “correct use of the Korean language” (Song 2012:30) and popular television shows promote prescriptivist grammar and lexicon (Seth 2011:25). However, Jejueo, the indigenous language of Jeju Island, South Korea, is less than 12% mutually intelligible with Korean (O’Grady 2015). Jejueo is classified as critically endangered, with 5,000 to 10,000 speakers all over the age of 70 (UNESCO 2010) and language use rapidly shifting to Korean. The social and economic reforms of the New Village Movement in the 1970s created a diglossia on Jeju Island, where Jejueo was prohibited from use in the media, education, religion and all official capacities. Recent work on Jejueo language ideologies (Kim 2011, Kim 2013) suggests that speakers maintain ideologies rooted in the former diglossia, as Korean is used as a language of “distance and rationality” (Kim 2013). This paper discusses the possibilities for Jejueo status planning and revitalization within the larger sociohistorical context of Korean language ideologies.

Kim, Soon-Ja. 2011. A Geolinguistic Study on the Jeju Dialect. Jeju: Jeju National University, Ph.D. dissertation.

Kim, Soung-U. 2013. Language attitudes on Jeju Island – an analysis of attitudes towards language choice from an ethnographic perspective. London: SOAS MA dissertation.

O’Grady, William. 2015. Documenting language-hood. Proceedings from ICLDC 4. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Sohn, Ho-Min. 1999. The Korean Language. Cambridge University Press.

Song, Jae Jung. 2012. South Korea: language policy and planning in the making. Current Issues in Language Planning 13(1). 1-68.

UNESCO Culture Sector. 2010. Concerted efforts for the revitalization of Jeju language. Online: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/endangered-languages/news/dynamic-contentsingleviewnews/news/concerted_efforts_for_the_revitalization_of_jeju_language/#.U1WeFFeZi4Y. Accessed 10 February 2015.

Bakhtikireeva & Valikova

Translanguaging in Russia: Russian as a communicative bridge for minority languages and cultures

By Uldanai Bakhtikireeva & Olga Valikova

According to 2010 Census, 97 % of Russia’s multicultural speakers prefer Russian language to their native in usual communication and in professional and creative activities. At the same time a high variety of minority languages are endangered. In this situation translingual practices of non-Russian writers, who create their text in Russian, become a transmission mechanism for saving cultures. A shortlist of their names, which continues to grow even today, proves that this is a significant cultural phenomenon in the entire post-Soviet space: Kyrgyzstan (Chingiz Aitmatov, SherbotoTokombaeva,) Kazakhs (Olzhas Suleimenov, Askar Suleimenov, Anuar Alimjanov, Murat Auezov, Auezkhan Kodar, Aslan Zhaksylykov,) Belarus (Vasil Bykov and Ales Adamovich,) Georgia (Chabua Amirejibi, Alexander Ebanoidze,) Moldova (Ion Drutseh,)Bashkortostan (Anatoly Genatullin,) Ossetia (Ezethan Uraymagova, Gaito Gazdanov, Ruslan Totrov,) Lakia (Efendi Kapiev,) Chuvashia (Gennady Aygi,) Uzbekistan (Timur Pulatov, Uchkun Nazarov,) Azerbaijan (Chingiz Huseynov, Maqsud and Rustam Ibragimbekov,) Ukraine (Vitali Korotych,) Chechnya (Elbrus Minkailov, Issa and Timur Kodzoev; Ingushetia (Idris Bazorkin, Bagaudin Zyazikov,) Karachay-Cherkessia (Isa Kapaev,) Tajikistan (Timur Zulfikarov), Chukotka (Yuri Retheu,) Khanty-Mansi (Uvan Shestalov,) Nivkh (Vladimir Sangi,) Tatarstan (Guzel Yakhina,) and many others.
We have been studying the texts of bilingual authors for many years and suggest that they are a “measure” of intercultural cooperation of the highest level, when cultures do not displace each other, but interact effectively. Such texts are always multidimensional both in terms of form and content. Interviewing different authors, analyzing their texts from interdisciplinary points of view we are trying now to create a “portrait gallery” of translingual writers for better understanding the process of cultural contamination.

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Intergenerational transmission of Tinkarlo: A sociolinguistic scrutiny with regard to its inventory of conjunct verbs

By Debmalya Biswas

The paper focuses on the Tinkar tribe and their language Tinkarlo, which belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family. It is one of the many language varieties spoken across the valley cluster in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand, India. Tinkar-lo does not have its own script. So it resorts to the Devnagari or the Hindi script for having a written form. It does not have any language primer. It is not being taught at the school level nor at the foundational level. Hindi and English are the media of instruction at the school level. It is an endangered language with conspicuous code-mixing testifying it being in a state of transition. Much of the indigenous expressions are now lost with only elders possessing their dwindling knowledge. The actual speech community originates in Nepal. The members surprisingly do not associate with a specific nationality but rather identify themselves as ‘Rang’. The region consists of three valleys: Byangkho, Bangma and Darma. One of the socio-linguistic influences of the place is due to its stature as a commercial hub. So there is a rich multilingual setting where people frequently switch and mix codes to facilitate business. In due course of time, this has affected the present generation’s knowledge of the Tinkari language. Many indigenous words have been replaced by Hindi, Urdu, Nepali and Byangkho words. It has had such a deep impact that they no longer recognise the pure Tinkari.

Taylor, Kozak, Chowdhury & Dallal-Bachi

Translanguaging in identity texts for intergenerational transmission of Bengali, Farsi & Arabic: Canadian perspectives

By Shelley K. Taylor, Jennifer A. Kozak, Sohel Chowdhury & Lina Dallal-Bachi

In Ontario, 25% of all students speak an L1 other than English. They can gain L1 oracy/literacy skills in Heritage Language programs (Ng, 2012; OME, 1991), but ‘regular’ schooling is offered through official second languages (L2s), English or French. These children frequently acquire L1 oracy, not literacy, and experience language shift. When (grand-) parents and children lose a shared L1, intergenerational discord may occur (Wong Fillmore, 1991). Immigrant and refugee parents with children whose grandparents live elsewhere may try to maintain their children’s L1 oracy through digital connections (e.g., Skype). This study describes an L2 literacy transmission project involving ethnic Bangladeshi, Iranian and Syrian students who drew on their L1 oracy and L2 literacy skills, and worked with family and community members with L1 literacy skills to produce ‘identity texts,’ or creative works that reflect students’ identities back on them in a positive light (Cummins & Early, 2011). They were encouraged to draw on their L1 and L2 knowledge in hybrid ways (or ‘translanguage’) to gain holistic pictures of their linguistic identities and competences (in Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, English and/or French) and create intergenerational links (Lewis, Jones & Baker, 2012; Li Wei & Wu, 2009; Taylor & Cutler, in press).
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Wong Fillmore, L. (1991). When learning a second language means losing the first. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 6, 323-346.


Schalley & Eisenchlas

Intergenerational transmission of home languages in Australia – An uphill battle?

By Andrea Schalley & Susana Eisenchlas

According to the 2011 Census, every fifth person in Australia (20% of the population) speaks a language other than English at home and the number of home language speakers continues to grow. Nonetheless, there is little official recognition of and provision for home languages and their maintenance in the formal education system. Based on about 40 workshops and other outreach activities we have been delivering on home language maintenance and development across South-East Queensland since late 2011, we outline issues encountered at the grass-roots level and review implications of the current situation. We argue that a concerted effort is needed to disseminate research findings on the importance of home language maintenance and development and to lobby for their uptake across the Australian society. In particular, we would like to initiate a debate around what appears to be one of the biggest challenges – a change of attitude in the mainstream society, a feat that would quite possibly alter our outlook on being able to take advantage of the opportunities afforded to us by Australia’s home language speakers.


Intragenerational immersion retreats: A Te Reo parent community of practice

By Ewan Pohe


Before Fishmans holy grail of intergenerational transmission of a minority language is possible it is first necessary for it to be transmitted intragenerationally.  This discussion paper reviews a year long pilot programme designed to help a groups of parents naturalise the use of Te Reo as a mother tongue in their own homes.

Kura Hōkioi is a community pilot which emerged out of needs identified during my 10 years as a family language planner working with Te Ataarangi.  Essentially we run weekend immersion retreats at a rural beach location for families who have committed themselves to the goal or raising their children to be compound bilinguals.  The community initiative Kura Hōkioi is a language community of practice run by an urban Māori Pākehā family that has itself managed to make Te Reo a mother tongue.

The core cultural principles of whakawhanaungatanga, manaakitanga, and Ngākau māhaki underpinned the success of this pilot.This discussion paper will provide a brief overview of the background, experiences of the retreats and future plans for the pilot.


Bohnacker, U., Lindgren, J., & Öztekin, B. (2016). Turkish- and German-speaking bilingual 4-to-6-year-olds living in Sweden: Effects of age, SES and home language input on vocabulary production.  Pages 17-41

This paper investigates vocabulary production in the minority home languages of 40 Turkish-Swedish and 38 German-Swedish bilingual preschoolers aged 4;0–6;11, growing up in Sweden. We explore how age, SES, and exposure via mother-tongue instruction and home language use in the family affect child vocabulary skills. This has not previously been investigated in Sweden. Cross-linguistic Lexical Tasks (CLTs; Haman, Łuniewska & Pomiechowska, 2015) were used to test noun and verb production in Turkish and German. Background information was collected using a parental questionnaire. The two bilingual groups performed equally well in their respective home languages, Turkish and German. There were no effects of age, socio-economic status (SES) or mother-tongue instruction on vocabulary. However, input in the home setting had a clear effect. Children whose parents used the home language to the child and to each other had significantly higher vocabulary production scores. Having additional home-language input providers such as friends also affected the scores. These results from a Swedish context echo findings from studies of other language combinations and reveal the importance of input for the development of expressive vocabulary.
Full text http://hdl.handle.net/10092/12907