Linguistic multi-competence of Fiji school students and their conversational partners

Suzanne C. Hopf, Sharynne McLeod, Sarah H. McDonagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


This study explored linguistic multi-competence in Fiji students and their conversational partners through a description of linguistic diversity in one school community. Students’ caregivers (n = 75), teachers (n = 25) and year 4 students (n = 40) in an urban school of Fiji completed paper-based questionnaires regarding: 75 students, 75 mothers, 75 fathers, 25 child-minders, and 25 teachers (N = 275). Participants spoke an average of three languages, ranging between one and six languages including: English (99.2%), Standard Fijian (86.4%), a Fijian dialect (76.8%), Fiji Hindi (66.1%), and additional languages (41.7%, e.g. Standard Hindi, Rotuman, Samoan, Cook Island Maori, Bislama, and Japanese). The common main languages spoken by participants were Standard Fijian, Fiji Hindi, or English. The students typically spoke the main language of both or one of their parents (92%). Consistent with teacher, parental, and student report, English was the main language spoken by the students at school. In the community, the students’ language use was influenced by ethnicity of the communication partner and languages within the students’ repertoire. The students were more likely to code-switch with their father, mother, or siblings than their grandparents. This study demonstrates linguistic multi-competence and emphasises the importance of considering the individuals’ and communities’ total linguistic repertoire and competence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-91
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Multilingualism
Issue number1
Early online date17 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Grant Number

  • FT0990588


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