“Miss, That’s Not Special. Everybody Speaks Multiple Languages.” Children’s Voices about Being Multilingual Within and Beyond their Family. A Multi-Method Study in Antwerp, Belgium. = 'Juf, dat is niet speciaal. Iedereen spreekt meerdere talen'. Kinderen over meertalig zijn binnen en buiten hun gezin. Een multi-method onderzoek in Antwerpen, België.
In the Dutch-speaking north of Belgium, the city of Antwerp is rapidly approaching the status of super diverse cities like New York and Amsterdam. In 2019, for the first time, there were more inhabitants of foreign descent than natives (Stad Antwerpen 2019). In 2016, 48% of the Antwerp population was of foreign descent. For the youngest age groups (0 to 11 years), this figure increases to over 70% (Studiedienst van de Vlaamse Regering 2018). With diversity in ethnic roots comes diversity in languages. In 2017-2018, 54% of the pupils in primary education had a non-Dutch home language (Departement Onderwijs 2019, online). According to Child and Family, 57% of the mothers of newborns in 2018 in Antwerp did not primarily speak Dutch with their child. Thus, for many young Antwerpers, Dutch is only one of the languages they hear, understand and/or speak on a daily basis. Though this concept is defined in a variety of ways, people who are proficient in multiple languages are generally referred to as multilinguals (Butler and Hakuta 2013). During the past decade, the surge in multilingualism in Belgium has sparked scientific research to investigate the impact of having another mother tongue on children's educational careers and ethnic identification. However, far less attention has been paid to disentangling within-family dynamics related to language practice, management and ideology within the families of these children. However, children's transformation into multilinguals might also have important consequences for the families in which they grow up. In some families, parents and children end up using different languages to communicate with each other. In other families, parents dissert their native tongue by adopting a "Dutch only" language practice at home and in still other families, members strive to keep the heritage language a vibrant part of the family's daily life. Currently, little research exists on how multilingual childrearing affects family well-being (e.g. cohesion and conflict), and many important issues regarding multilingual families, such as the difference between instrumental and emotional languages, have not yet been thoroughly explored (Wang, 2013). Furthermore, not only has the family setting of the child been left out of the picture, researchers have also passed by the impact of children's agency as individual actors in shaping their language settings, largely foregoing the bidirectionality of within-family processes. The purpose of this study is threefold: 1) shed light on the various language characteristics (language practice, language attitudes and language management) of multilingual children and their families; 2) explore the consequences of these language characteristics on children's evaluations of their family relations and their individual well-being; 3) investiga the micro and macro processes connecting in- and output. The data presented in the manuscript are based on the Multilingualism in Antwerp (MInA) project. MInA is a multiple-method study, combining survey and focus group data. The study wasset up as a sequential explanatory design. In a first phase, an online survey was administered to pupils from the 5th and 6th year of 19 Antwerp primary schools (n = 1049). In a second phase, several focus groups were assembled in selected schools to explore children's experiences of multilingualism within and beyond their families.
Leuven : KU Leuven , 2020
Supervisor: Matthijs, Koenraad [Supervisor]
Supervisor: Agirdag, Orhan [Supervisor]
Supervisor: Swicegood, Gray [Supervisor]
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Creation 11.10.2023
Last edited 11.10.2023
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