Factors Affecting Proficiency Among Gujarati Heritage Language Learners on Three Continents
This dissertation examines the causes behind the differences in proficiency in the North Indian language Gujarati among heritage learners of Gujarati in three diaspora locations. In particular, I focus on whether there is a relationship between heritage language ability and ethnic and cultural identity. Previous studies have reported divergent findings. Some have found a positive relationship (e.g., Phinney, Romero, Nava, & Huang, 2001; Cho, 2000; Soto, 2002; Kang & Kim, 2011), whereas others found no correlation (e.g., Brown, 2009; Smolicz, 1992; Jo, 2001), or identified only a partial relationship (e.g., Mah, 2005). Only a few studies have addressed this question by studying one community in different transnational locations (see, for example, Canagarajah, 2008, 2012a, 2012b). The current study addresses this matter by examining data from members of the same ethnic group in similar educational settings in three multi-ethnic and multilingual cities.The results of this study are based on a survey consisting of questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, and proficiency tests with 135 participants. Participants are Gujarati heritage language learners from the U.K., Singapore, and South Africa, who are either current students or recent graduates of a Gujarati school. Despite similar amounts of instruction in the Gujarati language, Gujarati proficiency varied drastically, with some participants performing at near native-like levels, and others at beginner levels. To understand these differences, I apply a mixed-methods approach by quantitatively examining the extent to which the differences in Gujarati proficiency can be explained by identity and demographic factors, as well as linguistic experiences/history, and by qualitatively analyzing participants' personal insights on these topics.Findings show that strength of identification with Gujarati ethnicity and culture is partially significant in explaining variations in language proficiency. In addition, three factors were significantly associated with language proficiency among the participants: amount of language use, language input/exposure, and knowledge of other North Indian languages.The current study has important implications for understanding heritage language learning as well as ethnic identity formation and maintenance. Furthermore, it provides an original contribution to the field by performing a multi-site study to investigate the varying proficiencies among heritage language learners.
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Measuring Heritage Language Learners’ Proficiency for Research Purposes: An Argument-based Validity Study of the Korean C-test Son, Young-A (Georgetown University, 2018)Heritage language learners (HLLs) have increasingly become a focus of interest in applied linguistics research (Kagan & Dillon, 2012), but the lack of consistent conceptualization of HL proficiency has hindered the systematic ...