Please enter verification code
Heritage Language Maintenance Among Second-generation Chinese-American Children in a Small Chinese Community
International Journal of Education, Culture and Society
Volume 5, Issue 5, October 2020, Pages: 100-114
Received: Oct. 3, 2020; Accepted: Oct. 19, 2020; Published: Oct. 26, 2020
Views 51      Downloads 26
Daina Zhu, Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education, College of Education, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi, USA
Peggy Hopper, Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education, College of Education, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi, USA
Gulinaer Kulaixi, School of International Trade and Economics, Xinjiang University of Finance and Economics, Urumqi, China
Article Tools
Follow on us
Based on the findings of previous research conducted in Chinese-American children’s heritage language (HL) maintenance in large Chinese communities in urban settings, looking at positive parental attitudes, weekend Chinese schools, and interaction within local heritage language communities, the authors of this article investigated the contexts and outcomes of Chinese-language learning for second-generation Chinese-American children, in a small Southern United States college town. Research questions included: (1) What are the parents’ and grandparents’ attitudes about HL maintenance and efforts for passing on their HL to their children? (2) How consistent are parents’ and grandparents’ attitudes toward HL maintenance and their efforts of passing on HL to their children? What are reasons for the consistencies or inconsistencies? (3) Who has better learning outcomes, children who attending community Chinese-language school, or children taught by grandparents or parents? Results indicated that parents with higher education background and stay in the United State longer tend to have discrepancy between their attitudes and the real effort toward Chinese heritage language (CHL) maintenance. However, grandparents maintain consistency between their positive attitudes and the real effort regarding CHL maintenance. Grandparents’ heritage language communication supported children’s heritage language maintenance. Success of heritage language maintenance was determined more by children’s communicative need than by parental attitudes or schooling.
Chinese Heritage Language Maintenance, Second Generation Chinese-American Children, A Small Chinese Community
To cite this article
Daina Zhu, Peggy Hopper, Gulinaer Kulaixi, Heritage Language Maintenance Among Second-generation Chinese-American Children in a Small Chinese Community, International Journal of Education, Culture and Society. Vol. 5, No. 5, 2020, pp. 100-114. doi: 10.11648/j.ijecs.20200505.13
Copyright © 2020 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Li, M. (2005). The role of parents in Chinese heritage-language schools. Bilingual Research Journal 29 (1): 197-207.
Liu, N. (2010). Chinese heritage language schools in the United States. Heritage Briefs Collection, Center for Applied Linguistics.
Lao, C. (2004). Parents’ attitudes toward Chinese-English bilingual education and Chinese-language use. Bilingual Research Journal 28 (1): 99-121.
Li, X. (1999). How can language minority parents help their children become bilingual in familial context? A case study of a language minority mother and her daughter. Bilingual Research Journal 23 (2-3): 211-223.
Li, G. (2006). Culturally contested pedagogy: Battles of literacy and schooling between mainstream teachers and Asian immigrant parents. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
Mu, G. M. and Dooley, K. (2015). Coming into an inheritance: Family support and Chinese heritage language learning. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 18 (4): 501-515.
Xu, L. and Moloney, R. (2014). Identifying Chinese heritage learners’ motivations, learning needs and learning goals: A case study of a cohort of heritage learners in an Australian University. Language Learning in Higher Education 4 (2): 365-393.
Zhang, D. and Slaughter-Defoe, D. T. (2009). Language attitudes and heritage language maintenance among Chinese immigrant families in the USA. Language, Culture and Curriculum 22 (2): 77-93.
Zhang, J. (2009). Chinese heritage language maintenance: A grandparents’ perspective (Unpublished master’s thesis). McGill University, Montreal.
Echeverria-Estrada., C. and Batalova, J. (2020, January 15). Chinese immigrants in the United States. Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from
Jia, G. (2008). Heritage language development, maintenance, and attrition among recent Chinese immigrants in New York City. In A. W., He, & Y. Xiao (Eds.), Chinese as a heritage language: Fostering rooted world citizenry (pp. 189-203). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai’i, National Foreign Language Resource Center.
He, A. W. (2008). Chinese as a heritage language: An introduction. In A. W. He & Y. Xiao (Eds). Chinese as a heritage language: Fostering rooted world Citizenry (pp. 1-12). Honolulu: University of Hawai’I Press.
Luo, S. and Wiseman, R. L. (2000). Ethnic language maintenance among Chinese immigrant children in the United States. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 24 (3): 307-324.
Tannenbaum, M. and Howie, P. (2002). The association between language maintenance and family relations: Chinese immigrant children in Australia. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 23 (5): 408-424.
Yu, S. (2010). How much does parental language behaviour reflect their language beliefs in language maintenance? Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 20 (1): 1-22.
Chiang, P. S. (2010). Home literacy education of Taiwanese Australian families: A sociological analysis (Doctoral dissertation). Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.
Dai, J. E. and Zhang, L. (2008). What are the CHL learners inheriting? Habitus of the CHL learners. In A. W., He, & Y. Xiao (Eds.), Chinese as a heritage language: Fostering rooted world citizenry (pp. 37-49). Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.
Lawton, B. L. and Logio, K. A. (2009). Teaching the Chinese language to heritage versus non-heritage learners: parents’ perceptions of a community weekend school in the United States. Language, Culture and Curriculum 22 (2): 137-155.
Xiao, Y. (2006). Heritage learners in the Chinese language classroom: Home background. Heritage Language Journal 4 (1): 47-56.
Ogbu, J. U. (1978). Minority education and caste: The American system in cross-cultural perspective. New York: Academic Press.
Ogbu, J. U. (1998). Voluntary and involuntary minorities: A cultural-ecological theory of school performance with some implications for Education. Anthropology & Education Quarterly 29 (2): 155-188.
Shibutani, T. and Kwan, K. M. (1965). Ethnic stratification: A comparative approach. The MacMillan Co.
Gibson, M. (1988). Accommodation without assimilation: Sikh immigrants in an American high school. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Ogbu, J. U. (1995). Cultural problems in minority education: Their interpretations and consequences - Part one: Theoretical background. The Urban Review 27 (3): 189-205.
Curdt-Christiansen, X. L. (2014). Family language policy. In X. L. Curdt-Christiansen & A. Hancock (Eds.), Learning Chinese in diasporic communities: Many pathways to being Chinese (pp. 35-58). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins.
Wiley, T. G. and Valdés, G. (2000). Editors’ introduction: Heritage language instruction in the United States: A time for renewal. Bilingual Research Journal 24: i-v.
Shin, S. J. (2010). What about me? I'm not like Chinese but I'm not like American: Heritage-Language learning and identity of mixed-heritage adults. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education 9 (3): 203-219.
Valdés, G. (2001). Learning and not learning English: Latino students in American schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Van Deusen-Scholl, N. (2003). Toward a definition of heritage language: Sociopolitical and pedagogical considerations. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education 2 (3): 211-230.
Wan, G. (2000). A Chinese girl’s storybook experience at home. Language Arts 77 (5): 398-405.
Xu, H. (1999). Young Chinese ESL children’s home literacy experiences. Reading Horizons 40 (1): 47-64.
Buckwalter, J. K. and Lo, Y. G. (2002) Emergent biliteracy in Chinese and English. Journal of Second Language Writing 11 (4): 269-293.
Hu, R. and Commeyras, M. (2008). A case study: Emergent biliteracy in English and Chinese of a 5-year-old Chinese child with workless picture books. Reading Psychology 29 (1): 1-30.
Liu, Y. and Vadeboncoeur J. A. (2010). Bilingual intertextuality: The joint construction of biliteracy practices between parent and child. Min, Culture, and Activity 17 (4): 367-381.
Lv, C. and Koda, K. (2011). The impact of home language and literacy support on English-Chinese biliteracy acquisition among Chinese heritage language learners. Heritage Language Journal 8 (2): 199-235.
Chao, D. (1997). Chinese for Chinese Americans: A case study. Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association 32 (2): 1-13.
Wen, X. (2011). Chinese language learning motivation: A comparative study of heritage and non-heritage learners. Heritage Language Journal 8 (3): 41-66.
Fishman, J. A. (1991). Reversing language shift. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Hakuta, K. and d’Andrea, D. (1992). Some properties of bilingual maintenance and loss in Mexican background in high school students. Applied Linguistics 13 (1): 72-99.
Hakuta, K. and Pease-Alvarez, L. (1994). Proficiency, choice, and attitudes in bilingual Mexican-American Children. In G. Extra & L. Verhoeven (Eds.), The cross-linguistic study of bilingual development (pp. 145-164). New York: North-Holland.
He, A. W. (2010). The heart of heritage: Sociocultural dimensions of heritage language learning. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 30: 66-82.
Gardner, R. C. and Lambert, W. E. (1972). Attitudes and motivation in second-language learning. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Unger, J. (1993). Urban families in the eighties: An analysis of Chinese surveys. In D. Davis & S. Harrell (Eds.), Chinese families in the post Mao era (pp. 25-49). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Sakamoto, M. (2006). Balancing L1 maintenance and L2 learning. In K. Kondo-Brown (Ed.), Heritage language development: Focus on East-Asian immigrants (pp. 33-56). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Shin, S. J. (2005). Developing in two languages: Korean children in America. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.
Siu, S. F. (1993). Taking no chances: A profile of a Chinese-American family’s support for school success. Equity and Choice 10 (2): 23-32.
Wu, H. P., Palmer, D. K., and Field, S. L. (2011). Understanding teachers' professional identity and beliefs in the Chinese heritage language school in the USA. Language, Culture and Curriculum 24 (1): 47-60.
Lai, H. M. (2000). Retention of the Chinese heritage. Chinese America: History and Perspectives, 10-27.
Shibata, S. (2000). Opening a Japanese Saturday school in a small town in the United States: Community collaboration to teach Japanese as a heritage language. Bilingual Research Journal 24 (4): 333-342.
Wang, X. (Ed.). (1996). A view from within: A case study of Chinese heritage community language schools. College Park, MD: National Foreign Language Center.
Chao, T. H. (1996). Overview in X. Wang (Ed.), A view from within: A case study of Chinese heritage community language schools in the United States (pp. 7-14). Washington, DC: National Foreign Language Center.
Compton, C. J. (2001). Heritage language communities and schools: Challenges and recommendations. In J. K. Peyton, D. A. Ranard, & S. McGinnis (Eds.), Heritage languages in America: Preserving a national resource (pp. 145-165). McHenry, IL: Delta Systems.
Jia, Y. and Fan, P. (Eds.) (2002). Zhong Wen (Chinese language). Guangzhou, China: Jinan University Publishing House.
Mu, G. M. (2014a). Heritage language learning for Chinese Australians: The role of Habitus. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 35 (5): 497-510.
Mu, G. M. (2014b). Learning Chinese as a heritage language in Australia and beyond: The role of capital. Language and Education 28 (5): 477-492.
World Population Review. (2020). Starkville, Mississippi population 2020. Retrieved from
Proximity. (2020, July 4). Mississippi school district demographic characteristics. Retrieved from
Fraenkel, J. R., Wallen, N. E., and Hyun, H. H. (2015). How to design and evaluation research in education. (9th ed). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
Marshall, C. and Rossman, G. B. (2011). Designing qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Kiang, L. (2008). Ethnic self-labeling in young American adults from Chinese backgrounds. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 37 (1): 97-111.
Pao, D. L., Wong, S. D., and Teuben-Rowe, S. (1997). Identity formation for mixed-heritage adults and implications for educators. TESOL Quarterly 31 (3): 662-631.
Chung, Y. Y. (2007). An analysis of Chinese parental attitudes toward their children’s heritage language maintenance and development (Doctoral dissertation).
Wajnryb, R. (1992). Classroom observation tasks. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Yu, S. (2014). The immediate effect of parental language choice on that of their children’s language in Chinese migrant families. Taiwan Journal of Linguistics 12 (1): 81-108.
Xia, N. (1992). Maintenance of the Chinese language in the United States. Bilingual Review 17 (3): 195-209.
Wang, S. C. (1999). Crossing the bridge: A Chinese case from mother tongue maintenance to foreign language education. In M. Chu (Ed)., Mapping the course of the Chinese language field (pp. 270-312). Chinese Language Teachers’ Association Monograph Series, 3.
McGinnis, S. (2008). From mirror to compass: The Chinese heritage language education sector in the United States. In D. M. Brinton, O. Kagan, & S. Bauckus, (Eds.), Heritage language education: A new field emerging (pp. 229-242). London & New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.
Schecter, S. R. and Bayley, R. (2002) Language as cultural practice: Mexican en el Norte. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaurn.
Science Publishing Group
1 Rockefeller Plaza,
10th and 11th Floors,
New York, NY 10020
Tel: (001)347-983-5186