Date of Graduation

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Department/Program

International and Multicultural Education

First Advisor

Emma Fuentes

Second Advisor

Shabnam Koirala-Azad

Third Advisor

Sarah Capitelli

Abstract

There is limited research that investigates parent perceptions with respect to their early elementary school children's home language use. To fill the gap in research, this study explores the relationship between first generation Latino parent perspectives of bilingualism, home language maintenance and loss, and the intersection of culture and identity in an elementary school community. It also investigates how parents create an additive bilingual environment in the home.

This participatory action research (PAR) study involved group dialogue sessions and individual interviews in order to engage co-researchers and participants. PAR provided this study with the structure and tools to change and improve upon the current problems that some of the participants were experiencing, while capitalizing on ways in which other participants were successfully maintaining the home language.

The findings included dialogue transcriptions and summaries organized within generative themes. The participants perceived home language maintenance as an important goal regarding family communication and relationship building, cultural preservation, and a better future in the professional world. Their perceptions of bilingualism and attitudes did influence their children's Spanish maintenance or loss. In addition, the participants' ethnic and social identities had an impact on their own language choice, but not necessarily on that of their children. Finally, the group shared home language maintenance strategies that contributed to an additive bilingual environment in the home, highlighting the "Spanish Only" rule within the home space, which was perceived to be the most effective method.

This study illustrated the complexity of language maintenance and its relationship to the following components: perceptions and attitudes; personal histories, or counterstories; personal paradigms; and social, cultural, and economic factors. The research concluded with an action plan to share findings with school staff and other Latino parents interested in home language maintenance.

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