A Tale of Two Montreal Communities

4 Pages
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Department
Curriculum and Instruction
Course Code
EDEC 248
Professor
Lerona Dana Lewis

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Description
A TALE OF TWO MONTREAL COMMUNITIES  40% of Montreal residents speak three languages  Anglophones families who have chosen French immersion vs. Chinese immigrant families who attend French language schools  18.5% on Montreal population is Anglophone; 1.4% in Chinese  comparison will show underlying forces & literacy practices that define elements essential to promoting desired language & literacy outcomes  examine children’s bilingual & biliterate development in Anglophone community & multilingual & multiliterate development in Chinese community  consider perspective of parents  goal: identify factors that transcend these obvious differences & highlight shared positive & culturally specific factors that influence effective & successful learning Context and Theoretical Framework  English is majority language in Canada and in some parts of Montreal; Chinese is minority everywhere in Canada  active parental participation/support essential for successful multilingual education  Asian parents’ high expectations/aspirations for child’s education can partially account for academic success  explained culturally  explanation for success of French Immersion = parents high aspirations/expectations for children  in both communities aspirations/expectations related to language & literacy development & academic success appear to influence parents’ choices & practices in relation to children’s education  education choices show parents have understanding of literacy & language development as a social and cultural practice  examine parents past & present cultural and educational experiences which shaped what they belief Methodology  data collection and organization o semi-structured interviews with each family in home in home language & later transcribed o participant observation in school & community o focus of interviews: how different values/beliefs/practices/power issues shape parents’ perceptions of their literacy practices o explore language(s) spoken at home, language profiles, length of residence in Quebec, opinions about Quebec’s language policies, etc.  participant profiles o parents representing 10 Chinese immigrant families, 13 Anglophone families o Chinese community participants  5 fathers, 10 mothers  8 of the fathers & 7 mothers competent English speakers; others spoke rudimentary  no parents other than 2 fathers proficient in French, some could read a little  home language for everyone = Mandarin  all children but 1 attended private English/French bilingual school, went to French public schools  attended Chine heritage language school on Saturday  length of residence in Canadian varied from 2 to 10+ years  4 families lived in single family dwellings in suburban Montreal; rest lived in downtown apartments  most considered lower middle class o Anglophone community participants  13 mothers  in 8 families, both parents nature English speakers; in 3 families one parent was nature while other was fluent; remaining 2 homes, 1 parent francophone & other allophone but all fluent in English  in 5 homes at least 1 parent fluently bilingual; 4 families considered themselves functionally bilingual; 3 homes both parents monolingual Anglophones  in 2 cases French used at home but English dominant language  all lived in single family dwellings in middle to upper-middle clas suburbs  all children attended same early French immersion type program from kindergarten on Discussion  contextual influences o 2 Chinese parents remembered seeing books in their homes; all participants taught by parents to work diligently o majority of Anglophones grew up in 1960s & witnessed induction of 2 official languages  affected educational programming (increased popularity of French immersion)  perceptions and beliefs o in both communities parents help blear beliefs about how multi & bilingualism and cultural knowledge could benefit their children with identity construction, self confidence, access to opportunities & multiple pathways in life o high expectations and aspirations  Chinese  parents consciously applied home-land values to lives in Canada; strong belief in academic excellence as most important avenue for children to achieve social mobility in new country; strong belief in immigrant optimism & characterize selves as model minorities; also reveal hint of pessimism  “your grades have to be better than your classmates’”; parent’s Chinese educational background not readily transferable to career in Canada; place blame of individual themselves; hard
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