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Language, multilingualism and integration

Summary This project will attempt to arrive at an integrated view of the determinants of bilingual development among migrants. On the basis of sociodemographic, sociopsychological and linguistic-theoretical factors, a comprehensive framework will be attained which will make it possible to predict more accurately the outcomes of linguistic development and to evaluate the impact and success of measures intended to encourage migrants to improve their L2 proficiency. Established distinctions, such as integrative vs. instrumental motivation and additive vs. subtractive bilingualism will be reevaluated from a multicompetence perspective. In order to do this, 3 groups of immigrants (Italians, Moroccans, and Turks) in two countries (Germany and The Netherlands) will be investigated. The particular groups are chosen for their demographic representation and prestige in the immigrant countries, to achieve a combination which will allow for a detailed assessment of the influence of both linguistic and sociodemographic factors. On this basis we hope to come to a better understanding of the complex interaction of these factors and assess the interdependency of bilingual skills. The project also aims to arrive at a new definition of bilingual skills in terms of multicompetence. The results of the project should contribute to improve the understanding of bilingualism in society and to appreciate its benefits. Another important goal of our investigation is to provide empirical evidence for the assumption that linguistic integration is more difficult for some minority groups than for others. The outcome of the study will form a basis for the development of measures and instruments to improve bilingual competence among migrant groups, and allow specific and targeted recommendations how to improve the overall language proficiency of particular demographic groups. Introduction Recent developments within the field of Applied Linguistics suggest that bilingual knowledge, competence and proficiency are not made up of separate or separable linguistic subsystems (L1, L2) but that they consist of one holistic and dynamic system within which every change has ramifications throughout all subsystems (e.g. de Bot et al. 2007). In order to determine what conditions the overall development of this system, it is necessary to investigate the development of a bilingual's languages not in isolation (acquisition of L2, maintenance and change of L1) but within one integrated larger framework. This framework has to include aspects of attitude, motivation, prestige, and sociodemographics. The propject proposed hereunder will investigate the development of immigrant bilingualism among migrant populations, attempting to assess the impact of these factors. One of the main problems facing Western societies currently are the conflicts and tensions between indigenous populations and large groups of (particularly non-Western) immigrants. On the one hand, this migration is necessary for highly industrialized and prosperous countries for

demographic reasons, on the other, the indigenous have recently begun to feel threatened by what is often perceived as a lack of willingness on the part of the immigrants to 'integrate'. One of the most highly visible tokens of individual integration is a willingness to acquire proficiency in the language of the host society, and all across Western countries, more and more strict rules and regulations are being put into place in order to enforce L2 acquisition (e.g. Stevenson 2006). Such measures usually rely on two strategies: on the one hand failure to acquire the L2 is punished, e.g. by cuts in social security; and on the other use of the L1 is discouraged (e.g. in the UK, the then home secretary, David Blunkett, called for the use of English in Asian homes, in the Netherlands, the minister for integration, Rita Verdonk, demanded the institution of a 'code' forbidding the use of languages other than Dutch in public, and in Germany there was a large public debate on the obligatory use of German in schoolyards). Both these strategies are highly questionable from a linguistic and pedagogical point of view. It has been well-established that the success of second language acquisition can best be predicted by the individual learner's attitudes and motivations. Those in turn are mainly influenced by the learner's attitude toward both the L1 and the L2 language communities and by his or her orientation (either integrative or instrumental) toward language study (Gardner and Lambert 1972). Sanctioning failure to acquire the L2 will, at best, lead to an instrumental orientation, while the authoritative stance taken by the government and the often openly voiced intolerance on the part of society will curb most immigrants' wish for integration. Immigrants are almost invariably seen from a perspective of deviance both in the immigrant country, where they are regarded as deficient in L2 proficiency, and in the country of origin, where they are usually seen as no longer being fully proficient in their L1. The exception is the so-called elite bilingualism, which is generally seen as an asset to the community. The current situation is thus that, for example, English- or German-speaking immigrants in the Netherlands consider their language a valuable asset and make every effort to maintain it and pass it on to their children efforts which are encouraged by the host community. Turkish migrants, on the other hand, will at every step be confronted with the attitude that it is detrimental for them to continue speaking and for their children to learn Turkish, that this will impair their chances for assimilation and career opportunities, and that a switch to monolingual Dutch is really preferable. Aims and objectives This project has the following goals: 1. to develop a more integrated framework for predicting the success of L2 acquisition 2. to assess the interdependency of bilingual skills in L1 and L2 3. to arrive at a better understanding of how sociodemographic factors may influence linguistic integration among migrants of Western and non-Western origin ad 1)

The development of multilingual proficiency, particularly in late bilinguals, has traditionally been studied either from a linguistic perspective (investigating the characteristics of interlanguage within frameworks such as UG or psycholinguistics) or from a sociolinguistic one (focusing on the importance of factors such as age, attitude, prestige of L1 and L2, Ethnolinguistic Vitality, and identity). Although every language contact situation is characterized and influenced by both linguistic and sociolinguistic factors, it has so far proven impossible to integrate the two sides of the coin into a common framework (Clyne 2003; Hut 2006; Winford 2003). The project of which the investigation proposed hereunder will form a part will attempt to provide some insights on the basis of a large-scale integrated investigation of seven languages of varying typology, demographic distribution and prestige in four L2 settings. ad 2) Empirical research on bilingual proficiency typically focuses on part of the speakers' linguistic repertoire - either on the L2 or on the L1. This bias is a remnant of the view that a bilingual is essentially two monolinguals within one brain, a position refuted by psycholinguistic evidence more than two decades ago, when clear evidence was presented that bilinguals differ from monolinguals not only quantitatively (i.e. they can do less than a monolingual, but they can do it in more than one language) but qualitatively (they process both L2 and L1 in a fundamentally different way). There is therefore growing awareness of the fact that any investigation of bilingualism that confines itself to only one language will be incomplete. Recent findings and theoretical models (e.g. Cook 2003) suggest, however, that the two may be intrinsically linked. If this correlation could be described more accurately and comprehensively, it would not only greatly advance our understanding of the organization of the bilingual mind, but also allow linguists to provide policy-makers with hard evidence that may be helpful for establishing official guidelines. ad 3) The importance of individual attitudes as a predictor of success in instructed L2 acquisition has been established beyond doubt (e.g. Gardner 2005). Similarly, it appears very likely that factors relating to the sociodemographic characteristics of a particular ethnic group, such as group size and Ethnolinguistic Vitality, have a large role to play in the context of L2 acquisition and L1 maintenance (Allard & Landry 1986, 1994; Bourhis & Barette 2006; Extra & Yamur 2004;Giles et al. 1977; Yamur 1997). However, previous research only allows limited conclusions in these respects because a) there are few studies that attempt to establish a link between individual and societal factors among immigrant communities, and b) there are no studies comparing the impact of these factors across more than one immigrant community. However, questions such as "does the size of the immigrant community influence L2 acquisition and L1 maintenance?" or "what is the role of the prestige of the L2 community?" can clearly only be answered by comparing groups that differ on relevant sociodemographic characteristics.

The current project will therefore investigate the impact, importance and interdependence of the following factors on multilingual proficiency: I. Linguistic factors: 1. typological characteristics (distance/similarity) or the languages involved 2. linguistic characteristics of the interlanguage II. Sociolinguistic factors: 3. personal characteristics of the speakers (age, education, attitudes) 4. social networks: in what situations in everyday life and with whom are both languages spoken? 5. biographical dimension (life-events) III. Societal factors: 6. overall demographic factors (size and characteristics of the L2 population) 7. prestige and stereotypes ascribed to L2 and L2 population On this basis, we hope to come to a better understanding of the complex interaction of these factors in predicting individual success in L2 acquisition and L1 maintenance.

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