USask doctoral candidate studies Mandarin Chinese acquisition among Saskatchewan children – archyworldys

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Immigrant parents have an important role to play in maintaining and acquiring native languages, according to new research by a graduate student at the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

In fact, while heritage schools play an important role in the bilingualism or multilingualism of children, the influence of immigrant families may be even greater, said Qin Xiang, who defended his doctoral thesis in November as as a student at USask’s interdisciplinary studies program. Xiang, who was born and raised in China, focused on Mandarin Chinese for her dissertation, titled “Maintaining Mandarin Chinese Heritage Language Among Mandarin-English Bi / Multilingual Children in Saskatchewan”.

“Attending community schools of Mandarin origin plays an indispensable role in the acquisition of the Mandarin origin language of children, especially when it comes to literacy. However, the fundamental role can be attributed to Chinese immigrant parents who have positive attitudes towards the Mandarin language and heritage and create a supportive and cohesive family environment that adopts Mandarin as a family language policy and provides substantial contexts in which to use Mandarin. , as well as providing a sufficient and varied intake of Mandarin inside and outside the home and family, ”she said.

“It can help motivate their children to develop positive attitudes towards learning Mandarin and stimulate them to maintain Mandarin as their original language. “

Xiang arrived in the United States after graduating with a bachelor’s and master’s degree from universities in Wuhan City, capital of Hubei Province in the People’s Republic of China. Xiang said the best part of her educational journey at USask has been meeting “fantastic” academic advisers and professors, especially her thesis supervisor, Dr. Veronika Makarova (PhD), a faculty member in the department. in Linguistics from the College of Arts and Sciences at USask.

For Xiang, the issue of acquiring and maintaining the original language is of personal and professional interest.

“As an immigrant mother trying to teach Mandarin Chinese to my Canadian born and raised daughter, Chinese-English bilingualism becomes a central topic of my interests both in research and in practice,” she said. declared.

“The prestigious status of Mandarin in China, as an official language of education and government, is reflected in Canada not only in the growth in the number of Mandarin speakers, but also in the highest retention rates in the country. language compared to other Chinese languages. spoken by Canadian immigrants. In Saskatchewan, however, Mandarin is one of the least spoken languages ​​overall, and the number of native speakers of Mandarin is lower than that of other Chinese dialects, such as Cantonese. The teaching of Mandarin in schools, the use of Mandarin in community centers and churches, and the support of Mandarin in the mass media, are less pronounced in Saskatchewan than in British Columbia and Ontario.

While Mandarin Chinese is spoken less frequently in Saskatchewan than in other Canadian provinces, Xiang said the positive influence of maintaining the original language on the cognitive development and academic skills of bi / multilingual children has been demonstrated. in previous studies. Previous studies have also indicated that maintaining the original language can have a positive impact on successful majority language learning. In addition, the maintenance and development of the original language can be continued without any loss of mastery of the majority language, she said, and the maintenance of the original language was also identified as a dimension. important adaptation experiences of immigrants, benefiting their general well-being.

“Therefore, it is essential to understand the extent to which the children of immigrants acquire their native language and what factors can contribute to mastery and maintenance of their native language,” Xiang said.

Xiang added that his research suggests that governments and institutions should pay more attention to maintaining and acquiring Mandarin as a heritage language that is to be inherited by future generations – as it is closely linked to cultural roots. ethnic groups – “rather than promoting it as a foreign language due to the need to increase skills in the global economy.”

“In addition, the results of this study may be of interest to non-Chinese immigrant groups as well as refugees in Canada,” she said.

Now that Xiang has completed her doctoral work, she looks to the future. She could soon undertake another project related to heritage and biliteracy of the dominant language. She would also like to work as a post-secondary Chinese teacher and support heritage language schools.

Xiang believes her research skills benefited from taking an interdisciplinary approach to her doctoral dissertation, in which she incorporated scholarships in areas such as linguistics, psychology, and educational theory. She received numerous scholarships and awards during her university career and has since been nominated for an award for her doctoral work.

“I would like to express my gratitude and thanks to the China Scholarship Council, the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the University of Saskatchewan for funding and support. of my doctoral studies, ”she said.


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