When Learning a Second Language Means Losing the First Presenter Yanira Alfonso
Language Attrition & Language Dominance: an introduction • Why did I do a study on Language Attrition? • Personal Language Experience • ESOL Students Shift Language Dominance (Wong-Fillmore, 1991, p. 342
Consequences of Language Loss • Korean Family • Hispanic Family
Consequences of Primary Language Loss • Social • Cognitive • Educational development of language minority children • Integrity of their families • Integrity of the society they live in (Wong-Fillmore, 1991, p. 342)
Research Question • Can I find evidence of language dominance shift or language attrition occurring in my ESOL students?
Background/Literature Review • Research supports that ESOL children lose their primary language (Wong-Fillmore, 1991, p. 342).
CAUSE OF LANGUAGE LOSS • Rejection of one’s own cultural values & Practices • For those of the prestigious, dominant group • Leads to second language replacing native language. (Lambert 1977; Lee 1996, p. 512; Wong-Fillmore, 1991, p. 323).
TO RETAIN FIRST LANGUAGE… • Parents and Caretakers MUST Commit to retain language. • By making choices that constitute affirmations and reaffirmations of that commitment. • Rather than a one-time decision regarding family language practice. (Schecter, et. Al, 1996; Wong-Fillmore, 1991).
Parents & Caretakers Must… • Support for a strategy of maintenance • Requiring constant reaffirmation as families struggle with changes in their life circumstances. (Wong-Fillmore, p. 262).
The Most Critical Factor • In predicting whether a language will be maintained across generation is… • LANGUAGE PRACTICE IN THE HOME (Fishman, 1992, p. 263).
Methods • Subjects drawn from Hispanic population in the ESOL Ridgewood Elementary program (pseudonym). • All 13 Hispanic families invited. • Eight out of the 13 accepted
Procedures • Parent Questionnaire - select subjects of similar backgrounds • Language Assessment Battery ESOL program entrance scores - students’ school records.
Procedure cont’d • Interviewed students - perception of their language. • Administered LAB English speaking part and Spanish LAB. • Sent home tape recorder - natural home language.
Age: Range 6 – 10 yrs. Old Mean 8 Gender: 3 Males 1 Female Grade: Range 1 – 5 Mean 3 Years in the US: Range 2 – 10 yrs. Mean 7 Final Four Subjects
Q# Variable MAX’S Parents CARLOS’ Parents SAM’S Parents LEAH’S Parents All Parents were Spanish Dominant 1b. Age on Arrival 18 yrs. 21 yrs. 22 yrs. 7 yrs. 1c. Length of Residence 10 yrs. 9 yrs.. 16 yrs. 25 yrs. 1e. English on Arrival No No Yes No 1g. Language used with child most often Spanish Spanish Spanish Spanish 1 Language used when angry Spanish Spanish Spanish Spanish 1k. Visits to native country Yes Yes No Yes 1l. Frequency of visits to native country Every 5-6 years Yearly N/A Yearly 1m. Language most comfortable using Spanish Spanish Spanish Spanish 1n. Other parent Language “ “ ” Blank Spanish Spanish Spanish
Results • Parent questionnaire • Home recordings • Student interviews all correlated with the • LAB results for all four students.
Sam’s Interview: “When do you speak Spanish” (line 50) “At home” (51) “Do you ever speak Spanish anywhere else?” (52) “Uhm (as if thinking) No” (53). “Uhm, to whom do you speak Spanish?” (54) “My mom and dad and sometimes my brother and my sister and my other brother” (55). “How about your brothers and sister. What do you usually speak to each other?” (56) “English” (57). “English? Uh, do you think you speak more English or more Spanish?” (58) “Uh, I don’t know” (59). “You don’t know? You are not sure? (60) “Uh Uh (as in no)” (61). “O.K. Do you think you speak better English or better Spanish?” (62) “Uhhh (as in expressing doubt), I don’t know either” (63). “What do you feel more comfortable speaking? English or Spanish?” (64) “Both of them” (65). “Both of them?” (66) “Yeah” (67). “You feel pretty comfortable speaking English and speaking Spanish? (68) “Yeah” (69). Sam’s Interview
LAB Scores Leah 5th Sam 4th Carlos 2nd Max 1st English (Listening, writing, reading) 80 85 15 16 English speaking 99 42 Combined Test Combined Test Spanish (Listening, writing, reading) 57 44 47 35 Spanish speaking 28 15 Combined Test Combined Test LAB Good Indicator of Language Dominance
Conclusion Final Analysis Variables: Language preference as per parent Questionnaire Language dominance & Codeswitching (home recording) Student Interviews (more & better) English and Spanish LAB scores
Language Dominance • First grader 5/6 Spanish Factors = Spanish • Second grader 5/6 Spanish Factors = Spanish • Fourth grader 5/6 English Factors = English • Fifth grader 5/6 English Factors = English
Did I find Evidence of Language Attrition? • No. • No evidence of language attrition was found due to no previous base line of Spanish language proficiency, • but dominant language was established.
However… • Lower grades Spanish dominant & • Upper grades English dominant • Regardless of the fact that all the students have Spanish dominant parents • Allude to the possibility of the fourth and fifth grader having experienced language attrition.
IT’S NOT TOO LATE • Students are young. • They still can maintain • or regain their native language. • Parents can still make a difference!
The Difference Hoped For • Personal Language Experience Led to the ideas of this study. • Making a Difference in the lives of children motivates me to continue to learn about language attrition. • And share its impact. • My hope is to make a difference!