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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Development and Maintenance of Minority Language Literacy in Japanese/English Bilingual Children in Australia Add Dissertation
Author: Kaya Oriyama Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Sydney, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2000
Linguistic Subfield(s): Sociolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): English
Director(s): Hugh Clarke
Rod Gardner
Scott Keisling
Ingrid Piller
John Gibbons

Abstract: This study takes an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the development and maintenance of minority language literacy in Japanese/English bilingual children in Australia, focusing on the longitudinal development and maintenance of Japanese writing skills among school-age Japanese/English bilinguals (age 6-12) who reside outside the Japanese community and attend a weekend Japanese school in Sydney. More specifically, the longitudinal data were compared with cross-sectional data from 1) Japanese/English bilinguals who also learn Japanese at a weekend school in Sydney, but live in the Japanese community, 2) Japanese monolinguals who are schooled in Japanese in Sydney, and 3) Japanese monolinguals in Japan. The purpose of the study is to examine 1) the nature and development of literacy in Japanese as a minority first language in contact settings, 2) the influences of the socio-cultural and the individual contexts on minority language literacy, and 3) the interrelationship between the socio-cultural context and the individual context, in order to find a way to promote and achieve higher levels of literacy in a minority language. To this aim, both descriptive and statistical analyses were employed.

The findings regarding the first issue suggest that the bilinguals' Japanese is characterized by features of development and transference, and that the overall literacy development is minor in the absence of a Japanese community. The examination of the second issue shows that both the socio-cultural and the individual contexts are important for the development of minority language literacy. The results concerning the third issue confirm the interrelationship between the socio-cultural context and the individual context of language use and attitudes.

In short, the present study reveals the insufficiency of individual and community efforts to compensate for the lack of extensive socio-cultural and educational support for the development and maintenance of Japanese literacy. Therefore, in view of the widely demonstrated benefits and effectiveness of bilingual education, this study argues that there is an urgent need for effective bilingual education for background speakers if Australia aims to maximize the potential of its human resources.