Language practices and attitudes of Australian children of Indian descent in a primary education setting
This paper investigated linguistic practices and choices of Australian children of Indian descent, an under-researched group, who are studying Hindi in primary education. Data was collected using a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews with sixty participants across 3 primary schools in the Sydney area. The findings revealed, as expected, that being born in Australia was associated with greater use of English, and that it was the India-born students who saw a purpose in speaking their 'mother tongue'. Of those children born in Australia, who had maintained their heritage language in the home, certain cultural groups-Nepalese and Punjabi- had stronger religious loyalties and favourable attitudes towards these languages. Furthermore, it was the grand-parents and non-working mothers who were driving the language maintenance process in the home environment. The conclusion highlights education as a driver for social mobility and raises questions about language and cultural shift as children from Indian backgrounds grow up and are educated in an Australian context.
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