Language transmission among multilingual Chinese immigrant families in the Northern Netherlands
Maintaining heritage languages is of vital significance for multicultural families. We present a study of Mandarin transmission among ten Dutch Chinese families in Groningen (Netherlands) associated to a local Saturday school. Data from semi-structured interviews and a questionnaire reveal that personal, integrative, and instrumental values, all play a role in language choices. Remarkably, with general positive attitudes towards multilingualism in Dutch society, families too feel encouraged to maintain Mandarin. Nevertheless, they report lack of school and institutional support, and criticisms about their ability to belong in Dutch society. Parents wish that teachers attached more importance to their heritage languages, rather than solely focusing on children’s learning of Dutch (and English), and that their own multiculturality (not only that of their children) be embraced. Likewise, parents are critical of the Chinese school, and wish teachers better accommodated to the sensitivities and practices their children are used to from their Dutch school experience.
Keywords: heritage language transmission, multilingual Chinese families, family language policy, Dutch-Chinese communities in the Netherlands
Published online: 13 October 2020
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