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M.A. Theses in Linguistics
at the University of North Dakota
Aldrich, Ruth A. 2006
Parents’ Perceptions of Children’s Attitude of the Heritage Language through Intergenerational Reading in the L1
Cultural diversity is not a new concept for the United States. In recent years a demographic shift has taken place so that the “language minority” has become the majority in many urban schools. Educational researchers actively seek innovative ways to acculturate new arrivals into North America. They observed that one way to strengthen acculturation is by affirming the heritage languages and cultures. This study involved three educated Afghan-Minnesotan parents reading heritage storybooks to their children at home. Through promoting heritage literacy, I hypothesized that an intergenerational reading program would enhance children’s attitude and behavior toward heritage language and culture while they acculturate to North American culture.
The results of the study indicated that parents’ attitudes regarding Dari transmission were pivotal to the success of the intergenerational family-centered reading program. Parents with higher positive attitudes towards Dari transmission and frequent contact with relatives living in non-English speaking countries had more success in Dari transmission than those whose attitudes were less positive. Additional factors were the children’s readiness to learn Dari and their individual responses to the family-centered reading program.
Ongoing research is needed to understand participants’ expectations and to select appropriate material taking into consideration language dialect, orthography, reading material, and educational method.
Future studies are needed on how Dari oral skills and literacy are traditionally transmitted in Afghanistan. Another question is whether involving parents in material development workshops could facilitate parents taking ownership in Dari intergenerational reading.
This thesis is available from the University of North Dakota library.