Heritage and School Language Literacy Development in Migrant Children - Interdependence or Independence?

I recently read this fascinating book edited by Raphael Berthele and Amelia Lambelet, published by Multilingual Matters in 2018.   

The various contributors to the book have been looking at how the heritage languages of migrant children have or do not have an influence on the literacy development these children have in the local language in the country where they reside.
It is extremely interesting to discover the HELASCOT Project and the various tests that the researchers used to see and understand whether there is an interdependence or an independence between the heritage language and the local language. It was a project done in Switzerland with children of Portuguese origin living either in the French-speaking part of the German-speaking part of the country. We discover whether it does or does not and where this is coming from. Is it linked to the local language and whether those children acquire it quickly and fully? Is it linked to the literacy level of the parents? Is it linked to the amount of reading in the house? Is it linked to the socio-economic environment?
I am not going to answer those questions which are wonderfully answered in the book. We have have four quantitative studies which investigate the transfer of literacy skills. The book helps to understand how linguistic interdependence can or cannot occur and the implication this can have on the education of the children. How can the heritage language really or not help? It is really thought-provoking and stimulating as you want to know more on the interdependence or independence between the heritage language and the local language.
I would say it is a must-read book for anyone who is involved in multilingualism, in research on multilingualism and in school education.


Also published here : Multilingual Café

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