Developmental Brown Bag
Teresa Satterfield, Associate Professor, Romance Languages & Literature, University of Michigan
Monday, April 22, 2013,
12:00 pm 1:00 pm
B247 East Hall
ABSTRACT: This inquiry identifies factors contributing to linguistic minority children’s development and maintenance of their heritage languages, particularly in terms of literacy. ‘Heritage languages (HL)’ are minority languages acquired first, but learned incompletely due to emigration and/or schooling in the majority language. Studies pinpoint age and ethnic/racial identity as sociocultural variables that can be activated and then used to track motivation of adults in the acquisition of a second language (L2). Our study fills a void by (a) testing for the activation of these socioculturalvariables in young bilingual children; and (b) examining motivation for maintaining/ developingSpanish HL literacy based on said sociocultural effects.
Twenty-five children, ages 5-10, completed manipulation tasks based on various age and ethnic identity activation conditions. Preliminary results: Ethnic identity was shown to be activated in children as young as age 5. Across all ages, measures of ethnic identity correlated with significantly higher levels of HL literacy, providing evidence for the role of motivation in children’s HL development. Controlling for proficiency level, younger children (5-7) made greater HL gains than older children (8-10). The context of same-age Latino peers was found to be pivotal for successful HL maintenance/development.
A compelling hypothesis predicts that maintaining a child’s first language (L1) through sufficientstimuli and motivation also maximizes successful second language (L2) linguistic/literacy outcomes. Crucially, gains emerging through L1-to-L2 interdependence are not predicted for inverse mappings of L2-to-L1. In the present study, children’s English and HL literacy development were correlated, supporting the L1-to-L2 interdependence hypothesis.
BIO: Teresa Satterfield is an Associate Professor of Romance Linguistics at University of Michigan in the Dept. of Romance Languages & Literatures, Center for Human Growth and Development, and the Center for the Study of Complex Systems. She is co-Director of the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based non-profit program EN NUESTRA LENGUA ("In our language") LITERACY AND CULTURE PROJECT for Spanish heritage language speakers and their families. Professor Satterfield's research interests include: first language acquisition, bilingualism, language contact, and computational modelling of linguistic phenomena.