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Five Korean Immigrant Mothers, Five Korean American Daughters

By Sarah Y. Sok


Many Korean households in America are comprised of Korean immigrant parents and their American-born children. As Korean parents raise their children in a land and culture they themselves never grew up in, they confront an important question: Should they make any efforts to teach their children about their heritage culture and language? Previous studies report that most American-born Korean children become English-dominant as they become socialized into the host American culture outside of their homes. This may be due to a combination of factors such as life circumstances, available community resources, and the language ideologies endorsed by the society. These factors all affect the development and outcome of parents' attitudes, beliefs, and practices. This study examines the reflections of five Korean immigrant mothers and their five Korean American daughters residing in Los Angeles. A comparison of mothers and daughters' evaluations about the daughters' current language and cultural competence in Korean reveals that daughters are highly bilingual. However, the daughters seem to have different conceptions about the Korean identity from those of their mothers. Unlike their mothers, the daughters also seem to distinguish between the Korean culture in South Korea and the culture of Korean Americans. By interviewing the mothers about their initial attitudes and efforts to educate and socialize their children in the heritage language (HL), we see how life circumstances, language ideologies, and children's perspectives coincided with parental efforts over the years to bring about the current state. Through this study, we hope to gain insight into how the HL and culture is transmitted in Korean immigrant households while considering both the parents' and their children's perspectives

Topics: Language, Education, Linguistics, bilingual, education, heritage language, Korean, Korean American, Korean parents
Publisher: eScholarship, University of California
Year: 2012
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