Heritage Language and Culture Maintenance in the U.S.

  • Received : 20110100
  • Published : 2011.03.30


In recent years, the relationship of language maintenance to culture and identity has received increased attention in the language acquisition and education fields. Korean immigrants in the U.S. form one of the biggest Asian groups and their language and cultural maintenance has been a major issue for both parents and ESL teachers. The present research is designed to investigate the cultural and social identities as well as the psychological investment factors that contribute to heritage language maintenance. Three Korean immigrant families in a small Midwest university town in the U.S. were surveyed and later interviewed. Issues and strategies concerning their children's Korean education in the U.S., coupled with the competing goal for the children to learn English were documented through parent interviews and interviews with school-aged focal children. Strategies and stances that facilitate or hinder both heritage and target language maintenance goals are presented along with participants' major reasons for heritage language maintenance in their homes and via Saturday schools. This work will assist ESL teachers and sociolinguists in situating both Korean student and parent goals in the context of shifting cultural and linguistic identities in countries where they have immigrated.


Supported by : Seoul Women's University