Scaffolding in Language Maintenance―The Social, Linguistic, and Cognitive Perspectives on Parental Assistance in Chinese-Origin Children’s Chinese Language Education in Britain

He Bai


Since the 1950s, an increasing number of Chinese-origin children in Britain have been struggling on the edge of heritage language loss, which is involved with both British-born Chinese children and those who immigrate to Britain with their parents. How to maintain these children’s heritage language is of great concern to many Chinese communities in Britain, in particular, to Chinese parents. This essay consists of three sections: language use of Chinese-origin children in Britain, supports from Chinese parents as well as implications for Chinese parents. It chiefly focuses on the second section – scaffoldings from Chinese parents, and discusses it from social, cognitive, and linguistic perspectives for the purpose of providing Chinese parents with a few suggestions and encouragement for heritage language maintenance. As a result, an affectionate family setting lays a good foundation and makes it possible for children to low down language shift. In addition, parents’ English proficiency plays an important role. Also, the improvement of parent’s English may help parents enhance the intercommunication among children, home, community and school. And parents may have to support the development of target language – English – temporarily in order to help children’s two languages remain balanced. Presently, “identity conflicts” is a big problem facing Chinese bilingual children. Hence, it is important for parents to make children familiar with Chinese culture and build up their confidence in their heritage culture.

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