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Language That

Binds Us
Honors 394
June 3, 2015
Marianne, Alexandra, Hayley, Danielle

Our Trajectory
Individual Experiences


Alex Bartos-ONeill

The Thai Language: Recap

Tonal language with writing influences from
Immigration began in the 1960s
o Immigration from China to Thailand
Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue Area
o Around 4000
Interviewees and Bilingualism

Expressing Culture
How do you connect with your culture here, in
Washington State?
Thai Student Association?
Community Activities?

Their Answers
Revolve around family and close friends

and Language

Quotes From My Interviewees

We didnt talk about retaining the Thai culture
much & So mostly the Thai class this year, I
began to learn the culture, of course I learned from
my parents [before] - S
My mothertongue is Thai, I speak with my family
English and Thai & Definitely dont want to lose touch
with being Thai. My parents still live there and I want to
go back a couple of times a year - K
My parents are still back
home so I still talk them, so I
can talk pretty good - D

Its my mother tongue, so its

really easy to pick it up
&Im rooming this year with
3 Thai friends, wow, Im using
Thai so much - I
Well, I talk..I skype with my
parents a lot, so I use the language
a lot. I like Thai history, so I read
a lot on Wikipedia & When I
see Thai friends, I speak to them
in Thai - N

What About the Community?

Im not sure if its just my family or Thai
people who have moved here, but we dont
really go out of our way to meet each other.
Actually, my family probably avoids Thai
people. When we hear Thai in the
supermarket, my mom says we gotta switch to
English. They cant know were Thai. - S

Im sure the Seattle area has a lot of

resourcesbut I dont know of anyI
dont know of any friends who would
solely go out to find the Thai
community &I do know the Thai
people and the Thai community, but I
dont engage with them as much

What About the Community?

It would be great if there was more
publicity because its a certain group
of Thai people I hear from every
time...not as widespread[Theres a] The Thai community here [at UW] is a little different...
specific group of people that go to it Ill call it a bad representative of the Thai culture cause
its more like only certain people come to study
as well - K
abroadthose who can afford to do it. Lots of students
are Thai Chinese, but the Thai club celebrates Thai new
year...I feel a biased representation because Im
Christian. A lot of Thai events are connected Buddhism

A Different Perspective
Everyones experiences vary

Cant confirm if its true

But a close connection to family

First Interviewee: M

Thailand vs. US

Thai people are very friendly and open. They

gave me free food

Hard for me to bond with people if I didnt

understand the language at allit takes extra
effort to learn to read and writebut I can
speak pretty fluently because I had to talk to
those people vs. I dont want to show off
& People here mostly only speak English

Daina Goldenberg


Speakers in United States: 2,022,143 as of 2000

census, and consistently increasing
Heritage and Non-Heritage Language Programs
available at UW, major and minor available
Extensive List of Mandarin Classes, International and
Immersion Programs
Chinese taught in about 7% of Washington high
schools and community colleges
One area lacking: transition to community college
Chinese courses
Counties offering 1st year: 8
2nd year: 3
3rd year: 0
Overall education prospects for the language itself:

Some Possible Challenges

Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology (APA Division 45)
Study by Su Yeong Kim and Ruth K. Chao,

Difficulty of learning/maintaining a language so structurally different from

possible lack of motivation - childs identity may be rooted more in parents
values, than in transmission of language: achieving these values and goals
may involve use of English instead
Still there is substantial variation in the language acculturation of youth
from immigrant families

So.. What DOES heritage Mandarin look like for its

speakers? We might consider these lenses...

Dr. Emily Curtis


language and culture

culture: 1) artifacts, 2) behaviors, 3) intangibles (and
where language belongs in these categories)

Dr. Maria Careirra


strategies: 1) unawareness 2) strategic evasion 3)
ethnic emergence 4) identity incorporation

Chieni McCullough

Heritage speaker of Mandarin and Taiwanese

Moved to military base in Okinawa
Hawaii at age 5
In adulthood spent longer periods back in Taiwan with husband and kids
Growing up with Chinese/Taiwanese language in the 80s
Summer: Two months in Taiwan, complete with summer camp and
kindergarten immersion for the kids

Chieni and Daughter - Experiences

as a middle schooler, it was very embarrassing to admit I spoke Mandarin, or that I was an immigrant...

...Mom, youre embarrassing me!

Penny for Chieni (s thoughts)

On the strength of the connection between maintaining language and maintaining cultural heritage:
I think theres a very strong connection...sometimes some of the words or some of the idioms
say a lot about [the] language and the culture
.Drinking water and thinking about its source
On challenges to maintenance in the next generations:
- lack of exposure
- for her children, saturday school became a chore
- learn more naturally by having every day experience

Dandi Meng
Writing tutor, OWRC
Heritage speaker, arrived in US age 8
Took roughly a year to feel proficient in
Positive experiences acquiring the language

Penny for Dandis Thoughts

Regarding any negative experiences acquiring English:
Quite a positive experience, though some occasions were nerve-wracking
Dandis favorite thing about Mandarin:
I like being bilingual
... I can stand at the threshold of multiple encounters
...that feeling of in-betweenness is both really exciting and really terrifying sometimes being inbetween means you dont really have a place to settle down.

The answer may be ambiguous

On whether the Mandarin language should be
Dandi provides a non-answer on the topic

Honorable Mentions
Jenny Halpin, OWRC Director
Yunfei Zhao, TLC Coordinator for the OWRC
Dr. John Webster, English Department (and Chienis father-in-law!)
Dr. Webster conducts language surveys in his classes, to
understand the linguistic composition of his class. He says this is a kind of
diversity that matters and affects the way you go about teaching the class.
-Increasing student awareness of how they utilize language
-helping students see linguistic difference as a value they can
bring to the class, and a potential difference in view

Maintenance with Motivation, Confidence and Cultural


The languages survival overall is assured!

Generational maintenance?
A determinant of or influential factor in
Mandarin language maintenance in the future
may depend on cultural reception of Mandarin
and Chinese culture, as well as personal
motivation to keep the language - an actively
welcoming environment may ensure its

Hayley Elston

Interview at Seattle Amistad School

Socioeconomic status and education
Limitations of educational system

Interview with Mara Gillman


Culture as the centerpiece

Promising maintenance prospects
Need to create awareness among parents
Awarding value to bilingualism helps
Need to fill gap between research and

Obstacles to maintenance
Socioeconomic/educational inequity
(Pew Research Center)
Attitudes toward bilingualism, particularly
Spanish speakers
(Barker et al.)

Marianne Kim

Arabic Locally
Focusing on Arabic at UW
Drawing from Maintenance, Culture
Differing experiences from each individual

Arabic 423 & Professor Khalid

No heritage track
Typically less than 2 students
Mainly non-heritage students
More students with developed skills in higher
level classes

Amani Azzaidani
Palestinian - Arab
Speaks and writes fluently
Midterm Presentation

Reem Sabha
Lebanese descent
Only spoke Arabic at home
Identifies with Shami Arabic
Dialects for heritage speakers
I know this language and its just sitting in my mind but I am not getting to use it
very much

Mohammed Alangari
From Saudi Arabia
English through Cartoons
Switching between the languages - natural
I have a theory that if you can speak Arabic you can speak any language in the

Fun Fact: Texting
Differing experiences
Code Switching
Value Arabic for differing reasons