Consistent and persistent: Successful home language maintenance among Vietnamese-Australian families

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Abstract

Informed by Spolsky’s language policy theory, this study explores Vietnamese-Australian families’ experience of successful home language maintenance in three aspects: language practices, language ideologies, and language management. Seven parents from five families whose children achieved high bilingual proficiency scores in the speech and language assessment of the VietSpeech research program were invited to participate in a focus group to discuss successful strategies for home language maintenance. The discussion was undertaken in Vietnamese. Thematic analysis of the bilingual transcription revealed four themes: motivations, challenges, practices, and recommendations for home language maintenance support. The parents’ motivations for home language maintenance included communication with grandparents and relatives, maintenance of cultural identity, parents’ need to speak their home language, and cognitive and emotional benefits. Challenges faced by the families were related to children starting school and growing older, parents’ lack of time and persistence, and insufficient support in terms of formal Vietnamese education, resources, and teacher quality. The families’ strategies for successful language maintenance included speaking Vietnamese all the time as well as teaching Vietnamese directly using textbooks and indirectly through regular activities including book reading, daily interactions, and watching Vietnamese TV. The parents’ recommendations focused on changes in language education policy and advocacy, better resources, and raising awareness of the benefits of home language maintenance. This study provides insights into the successful experience of home language maintenance of Vietnamese-Australian families and can be used by multilingual families, educators, policy makers, speech-language pathologists, and other professionals to support home language maintenance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Home Language Research
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2022

Grant Number

  • DP180102848

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