One idea you hear from time to time is that for children of immigrants to learn their ancestral or "heritage" language will help them learn English, if they live in an English speaking country. What I observe is that children who are raised by their grandparents in the heritage language are at a disadvantage throughout the school system.
Where does this idea come from that a child well learn English better by first learning Chinese, Punjabi, Korean or Spanish? I understand that it may be a good thing to learn the heritage language, but does this helps in learning English?
Is it pretty easy to post the same thread twice? :-P
Seriously though, I have never heard this, and I would say that this is false. However, I think most people have heard that the study of a foreign language will inhance one's native language speaking-skills. For example, if Jon Dough's native language is German, and he takes up the study of Italian, he might find that he starts speaking his native language better.
That is very true, well at least in my case. After study of a foreign language I suddenly found myself more interested in my native language, which I had never really thought or cared about before.
Also everyone should know their heritage language. If they don't they can't really consider themselves part of that heritage.
Of course there are good reasons for learning the heritage language or any language. It is just the argument that it helps the ESL learner to learn English that I find strange. Yet it is a firmly established dogma amongst many multicult ideologues. Any views from others?
Khmer..., it is interesting that you say that people cannot really consider themselves part of a certain heritage if they cannot speak the certain language. I disagree because:
Most of my ancestors are English, and my mom's family are English. So, since my native language is American English, am I not part of the English heritage because my accent is different? What if I said my ancestors were French and my mom's family are French; even if I did not speak French, I would still be part of the heritage, no?
Also, since I am Ameican, I get to see so many subcultures. It is very interesting to see Mexican-Americans, Italian-Americans, German-Americans, Irish-Americans, etc all speaking American English, but keeping their heritage alive and well.
Without knowing the language one can still be part of the heritage, but only in an artificial sense. To actually be a part of that heritage and understand it in depth, the language is a necessity.
Um, shall we agree to disagree? :-)
You do not have to agree with Khmer, as I do. But I do not agree to disagree with you. I just think you are wrong and have ingetsted too much fashionable multicult ideology.
If you do not speak the language you do not participate in the culture in a meaningful way. You can still feel proud of your "heritage" if it gives you a warm feeling in your stomach but your culture has already changed. Speaking American English you are American, culturally the same as your neighbours of Irish, Italian and Polish origin. Many blacks have created a Black American culture but others are as American as you are. Many immigrants have not assimilated but many if not most eventually do.
Are you telling me that Eisenhower was part of a German suib-culture? Ronald Reagan an Irish sub-culture? Frank Sinatara an Italian sub-culture? Yeah there may be some differences in terms of favourite foods and interaction with grandma, but mostly the culture is American.
My humble opinion is that, by learning your heritage language while in an environment dominated in another language, you'll become a perfect bilingual and thus you'll become more proficient when learning other languages and more finely tuned when speaking your own. Or so has been my own experience, raised by Valencian (Catalan-speaking) parents in a Castilian (Spanish-speaking) city.
I distinctly remember being more proficient than my classmates in other languages, since I already knew that things could be said in different ways or that there were more sounds to language than the Castilian ones. I also remember being more critical to Spanish, thinking more about why things were said in a particular way in Spanish when in my language they weren't [for Catalan speakers, m'acordo (em recorde diría jo en mi valencià) de pensar quan era xiquet "perquè es diu 'la he visto' i no 'la he vista', o perquè no es diu 'en' o 'hi'?. Aixó em va ser molt útil quan vaig aprendre el francès més tard].
Becoming perfectly bilingual requires exactly equal exposure to two languages; that is never the case in immigrant families. Typically the national language provides the greater exposure. And I don't know of any evidence supporting the assertion that bilingualism facilitates later language acquisition.
I care absolutely nothing about my "heritage" and I've never been the least tempted to learn the languages of my ancestors, even though some people in my family still spoke those languages to some extent. People who worry about their heritage are often looking for a crutch upon which to prop their own self-esteem—they don't amount to much themselves, so they look to their ancestors. I prefer to stand or fall on my own merits.
Additionally, unless these "heritage languages" are widely used in the new host country of the immigrants, learning them is a waste of time in a practical sense. And if they _are_ widely used, well, they'll probably be learned for that reason alone, anyway, and so their status as "heritage languages" is irrelevant.
Steve K, all I am saying is that one does not have to speak a "heritage language" to be part of a certain culture. Obviuosly, you and Khmer disagree with me; that is fine, this is what we are here to do at Antimoon, discuss!
It is uncanny. Mxsmanix, You and I just agree.I speak a lot of languages but not that of my "heritage".
Clark, you can feel that you are part of whatever heritage you want. To assert that your heritage is English is up to you. Why you do not consider your heritage American I do not know. Why Engish and not Anglo-saxon or Norman or Briton? It is all arbitrary.
However on one point I do not agree to disagree because I your assertion that the Italian-american, Irish-American, German-american etc.sub-cultures are alive and well in the US is simply nonsense, multicult nonsense. It is not a matter of opinion. Most of these people have assimilated. If you take away people with German, Irish, Scottish and Italian names from the American mainstream, how many people are left? Even in the "post-modern" world somethings are true and some things are false.
Wait a minute, there, bud. I never wrote that I do not consider my heritage to be American, or that I consider my heritage to be English. It may have seemed that I implied it that way, though.
Really all I wanted to get across is that people do not have to speak a heritage language to be a part of that heritage. From what you are saying, the Irish cannot be apart of their own heritage because a majority of them do not speak Irish. So are the Irish not part of their own heritage because they do not speak Irish?
Clark, I do not normally answer to the name bud, but you said;
"What if I said my ancestors were French and my mom's family are French; even if I did not speak French, I would still be part of the heritage, no?"
My answer. No you are an English speaking American who may be proud of your partly French origin.
"Also, since I am Ameican, I get to see so many subcultures. It is very interesting to see Mexican-Americans, Italian-Americans, German-Americans, Irish-Americans, etc all speaking American English, but keeping their heritage alive and well. "
These sub-cultures exist only among the most recent immigrants, with the possible exception of the Mexican-Americans. Most people in the US drink beer, eat frankfurters, and pizza and celebrate St. Patrick's day and their culture is American.