Language practices of caregivers raising a multilingual infant or toddler in Quebec

  • Nicola Phillips (Speaker)
  • Erin Quirk (Speaker)
  • Kircher, R. (Speaker)
  • Alexa Ahooja (Speaker)
  • Melanie Brouillard (Speaker)
  • Susan Ballinger (Speaker)
  • Krista Byers-Heinlein (Speaker)
  • Linda Polka (Speaker)

Activiteit: Toespraak of presentatieAcademisch


Poster presentation: In the Canadian province of Quebec, many parents are transmitting two or more languages to their infant or toddler. While the official language of the province is French and 87.1% of the adult population claim it as one of their home languages, many of these speakers also use English. 19.2% additionally claim English as a native language (L1) and 14.5% claim one or more heritage languages (HLs; Statistics Canada, 2016; 2017). Quebec-based parents’ decisions about intergenerational language transmission and their language use practices are markedly complex yet few investigations have attempted to map these patterns and the factors that influence them. The study presented here is a major contribution toward closing this gap and will provide specific new insights about the variability of experiences of young children learning two or more languages simultaneously.
Study 1 (completed): In the first phase of this research project, we interviewed Quebec-based parents raising a multilingual infant or toddler. Their responses revealed positive attitudes towards childhood multilingualism as well as a desire to prioritize the use of French in public forums, expose their children to English, and in many cases maintain one or more HLs at home (Ballinger et al. 2020). The interview data also pointed to additional factors that shape language language practices including: parents’ desire to accommodate their child and to engage in natural exchanges using their dominant language(s), the unique language context of individual families, and parents’ proficiency in the languages within their repertoires (Spolsky, 2004; Ballinger et al., 2020).
Study 2 (in progress): In the second phase, we conducted an online questionnaire with 824 Quebec-based parents with a child under 4 years of age. Survey items allowed us to probe in more detail how these parents transmit multiple languages to their child and to quantify potential factors that shape language practices. Parents reported the language(s) they grew up with and for each of these languages, they rated their proficiency. They also reported on the languages they use with their child and the frequency with which they use those languages. We will use regression analyses to examine how variation in parents’ frequency of use of their L1s with their children can be explained by 4 factors: (1) parental linguistic proficiency, (2) sociolinguistic status of each language, (3) family language dominance, and (4) parental attitudes toward childhood multilingualism. Caregivers also reported on factors that influence which language(s) they use in specific situations via a multiple choice (MC) response question as well as an open question (Figure 1). We will analyse the MC responses to assess what factors,e.g., external (environmental) vs internal (parent-infant interaction), drive language choice. We will analyze the open question responses using a qualitative thematic analysis to uncover parents’ key priorities as they make linguistic choices during interactions with their child. The findings from Study 2 will provide some of the first empirical evidence related to parental language practices in multilingual families and, further, will allow us to build a conceptual model of intergenerational language transmission within complex multilingual societies.
Periode07 jul. 202210 jul. 2022
Mate van erkenningInternationaal