Minority Language Schooling without Home Language Maintenance: Impact on Language Proficiency
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Linguistic minority groups undergoing assimilatory pressure yet fortunate enough to have at their disposal an educational system in their own language expect the schools to play an important role in the maintenance of the language. The schools are seen as having the dual ‘mission’ of ensuring that the students who already speak the language retain it and of teaching it to those to whom it was not transmitted in the home. But just how proficient in the minority language do the latter become? This question is examined as it applies to the French-speaking minority of the province of Ontario, Canada. Results of sociolinguistic analyses indicate that French-language schooling without home language maintenance does not make for the acquisition of native-like proficiency. The students who do not maintain French at home are then briefly compared to L2 learners in early total immersion programmes, with whom they are shown to share many features of imperfect mastery of French (grammar, lexicon, etc.). The present study thus clearly indicates that more than ever full schooling in a language is necessary for attainment of native-like proficiency.
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