Language politics and language retention in a Canadian Chinese disapora community: challenges for parents

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Chen, Yi-fang
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Many immigrant (minority language) parents send their children to heritage language programs in hopes of helping their children maintain connections to their mother cultures and languages. This case study aims to explore the challenges minority language parents may encounter with decisions related to heritage language retention through community-based heritage language programs in a Canadian Chinese diaspora community. Five parent participants were recruited based on their diverse geographical and linguistic backgrounds. From interviews with these parents five themes emerged. These are 1) the nature of parental expectations regarding the function of heritage education, 2) the differences between heritage education and mainstream education, 3) varying perceptions of being part of a cultural minority, 4) manners of negotiating ethnic identity, and 5) the issue of diaspora values. The findings may shed light on how heritage education may be further developed, and also provide educators and policy makers with a better understanding of the importance of heritage education from the parents’ perspective.
Language retention, Language politics, Chinese community-based language schools, Parents' perspectives