Language and literacy transmission in heritage language: evidence from Russian-speaking families in Cyprus, Ireland, Israel and Sweden
Morgia, Francesca La
SourceJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
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We examined factors determining parental success in transmitting heritage language (HL) and literacy in Russian-speaking migrant families of comparable socioeconomic status (SES) in Cyprus, Ireland, Israel and Sweden. A total of 345 Russian speakers completed a questionnaire about their language use and home language practices. Of those, we chose 181 females with at least one child of school age. Across countries, we found no differences in the respondents’ SES or education, but differences in their self-identification with the host country languages and cultures. Results also showed that 90% of participants’ children could speak and understand Russian. However, only 52% could read and write in Russian, with percentages varying between countries. Multiple regression analyses revealed that the transmission of HL-Russian and literacy depended on parental efforts to actively use Russian at home and provide opportunities to communicate in HL. As for literacy, parental efforts and language use remained the main transmission predictors in all the countries, but factors differed across the countries, possibly due to varying attitudes towards Russian in the society. Likely, success in HL and literacy transmission is influenced by parents’ perception of acceptance of their language in the society where they live.