Heritage Language Acquisition: Informational Genre Text Reading and Interactions Between Parents and Children
By: Ya-Ning Hsu
Published: 05/16/2012
Uploaded: 11/17/2017
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2012 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: Heritage, informational genre, Language acquisition

Description/Abstract: The purpose of this research is to explore how parents assist their children in acquiring heritage language through interaction in everyday family life, especially through shared reading in informational texts. The challenge of heritage language
maintenance and acquisition is prevalent in bilingual families in the U. S. Many parents
wish their children to maintain and acquire the heritage language while growing up in the
English dominating environment but find such task challenging. This study argues that parents are critical in facilitating heritage language acquisition for their children through family literacy events, interaction and shared reading at home.
This qualitative study adopts a multi-case study approach to investigate
the interaction between parents and children, informational vocabulary acquisition at home,
and family shared reading practices in both fiction and informational genres. The data
collection methods are composed of interviews, observation and field notes in three
English/Chinese bilingual families with elementary school-age children.

Data are analyzed through the lens of sociocultural theory, the zone of proximal development and scaffolding. Like other literature, it is found that parents are enthusiastic about and instrumental in facilitating their children’s heritage language learning. Through interaction in daily life and family shared reading time, parents scaffold for their children in learning of the heritage language. The participating children do not have sophisticated nonfiction vocabulary in their heritage language. My contribution is to explore that the time in nonfiction shared reading at home is significantly less than the fiction book reading and while the participating parents mistakenly assume that their children are not attracted to informational texts, their children indeed show interests. While the literature on family shared reading or bilingual family literacy is extensive, few focus on bilingual families’ shared reading on nonfiction texts and acquisition of informational vocabulary in the heritage language. It is hoped that this multi-case study can contribute to the scholarly discussion of heritage language acquisition through shared reading in family settings and provide bilingual families suggestion and directions in continuing their journey of heritage language acquisition, especially in relation to informational text.