Language Learning as an Investment in Home Settings to Reproduce the Heritage Habitat for Immigrant Children


During my Master’s studies I had the privileges as an insider researcher that many immigrant Chinese families presented me adequate information on their home education focusing on raising bilingual children in New Zealand context. One of the participants has created a home environment for her children that is extremely intense in Chinese features. In this presentation, I will use Norton’s model of identity and investment in language education to interpret the impressive effort that the participant invested into the home education. Norton’s theory of investment in language education, inspired by Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of habitat and capital, relates language learning to collective identity and power imbalance. The intention of the participant’s in striving to maintain a Chinese language environment in home settings reflects the investment in language learning as a cultural tool for reproducing the heritage habitat to achieve the collective identity within the family domain. The data was first collected through the participants’ presenting ample photography documents that support her intention of facilitating children’s Chinese learning. Then two semi-structured interviews were conducted when the participant explained the reasons of choosing these materials for the family life. Then the participant was encouraged to reflect on the purposes of creating a Chinese environment for the children. This research shows how Chinese immigrant families purposefully provide cultural materials for their children to support their heritage language development, and also how they use the process of investing in language education as a means of constructing collective identity in home settings.

Author Information
Long Li, Manukau Institute of Technology, New Zealand

Paper Information
Conference: SEACE2023
Stream: Challenging & Preserving: Culture

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon