Great Aunt Edna’s Vase: Multilingual families, heritage, and identity
Every day, multilingual families make decisions – both consciously and subconsciously – about language use. These decisions are linked both to constructed identities, and to identity construction, having an important impact on how children view, and relate to, the various family languages. Often, though, speaking in the heritage language is seen as much more important than speaking about the heritage language, leaving discontentment, opinions, and sometimes heartache, to grow unchallenged and undiscussed. This talk centres around a study involving a questionnaire study involving 212 multilingual families, followed up by 10 in-depth family interviews, and presents a framework aimed at helping family members understand the differentiated attachments – both emotional and pragmatic – various family members might have, and exploring what happens when families are invited to communicate their views in a supportive, facilitated environment. The link to Great Aunt Edna’s Vase will be revealed.
Dr Sabine Little, Lecturer in Languages Education
Dr Sabine Little
Lecturer in Languages Education
The University of Sheffield
Dr Sabine Little is a Lecturer in Languages Education at the University of Sheffield, where she directs the iPGCE and MA Education, Teaching and Learning, both programmes largely taken by teachers working in international contexts. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her research centres around the complexities of notions such as “identity” and “belonging” in the context of multilingual families. Migration, educational experiences, societal pressures and intergenerational differences all feed into how different family members construct their identity, and her research focuses on the languages spoken within the family as a conduit to these constructs. As well as working holistically with families, Sabine is working within formal education contexts to help educators and policymakers understand underlying complexities of identity and belonging in today’s “superdiverse” society.