Perceptions of identity, language abilities and language preferences among Russian-Hebrew and English-Hebrew bilingual children and their parents

Carmit Altman, Zhanna Burstein-Feldman, Sveta Fichman, Sharon Armon-Lotem, Susan Joffe, Joel Walters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Israel’s population includes over a million Russian-speaking immigrants and more than 300,000 native English speakers. These groups differ in social integration and in the status of their heritage languages in Israel. We compared children’s and parents’ perceptions of children’s identities, language abilities, and language preferences among Russian-Hebrew and English-Hebrew bilinguals via sociolinguistic questionnaires. Forty-six Russian-Hebrew (RH) and 15 English-Hebrew (EH) bilingual children and their parents participated. Analyses addressed inter-generational (children vs. parents) and inter-group (RH vs. EH) differences. Identity ratings revealed both child–parent and group differences. Identity. RH parents and children differed regarding perceived Home and Societal identities. EH children and parents agreed about Home identity but not about Israeli identity. RH parents gave higher ratings to their children’s HL/Russian abilities than their children did, while EH parents and children both rated HL abilities as higher than Societal language abilities. Both RH and EH parents expressed greater preferences for the SL/Hebrew than their children, but parents’ and children’s ratings of preferences for the Home language differed for the two groups. Examining relations among perceived identity, language abilities, and preferences in children and their parents, the study sheds light on the children’s patterns of socialisation, acculturation, and maintenance of home language identity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Early online date23 Sep 2021
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 23 Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper was supported by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) (Grant 01UW0702B) and by an ISF grant 863/14. We thank the children and their parents for their cooperation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • English-Hebrew bilingual children
  • Language and identity
  • Russian-Hebrew bilingual children
  • bilingualism
  • immigrant parents and children
  • multiple identities

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