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MAINTAINING CHINESE AS A HERITAGE LANGUAGE IN THE UNITED STATES: WHAT REALLY MATTERS?

Abstract

Despite the fact that bilingualism is a norm and more and more research has concluded that bilingualism yields positive outcomes (Reyes & Moll, 2005; Tse, 2001a; Tse, 2001b; Fisherman, 1991), heritage language maintenance (HLM) faces great challenges in the USA such as the English only movement. This study aims to reveal what makes Chinese Americans maintain Chinese and what the major factors are for successful HLM in an English-dominant society. Data were collected through a comprehensive Chinese language learning survey and follow-up interviews. Participants were 28 children from a large southwestern border city in the US. They were learning Chinese in a Sunday Chinese school. Results indicated that parents have positive feelings about raising bilingual children. However, this is difficult for various reasons. First, it is believed that children are passive in learning Chinese, especially when they are young. They do not appreciate the value of bilingualism. In addition, the environment is not conducive for HLM in the English-dominant society. Based on the survey and relevant literature, two major factors, one at the micro level and the other at the macro level, are proposed to account for the success of Chinese language learning for heritage learners.

How to Cite

Liu R., (2008) “MAINTAINING CHINESE AS A HERITAGE LANGUAGE IN THE UNITED STATES: WHAT REALLY MATTERS?”, Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching 15(0). p.37-64.

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Authors

Rong Liu (University of Arizona)

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

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This article has been peer reviewed.

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