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Korean immigrant parents' attitudes and practices regarding Korean and English development in preschool-aged children: a comparison of bilingual and English-speaking programs Koh, Jin Young

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to understand how Korean immigrant parents envision their children's learning of Korean and English during the preschool years, and how they provide language environments and activities in the home to facilitate the learning process. Questionnaires and follow-up interviews were used to gather data from sixty parents who either sent their children to bilingual preschool programs (BP) or who enrolled their children in English-speaking programs (ESP) in the Greater Vancouver area. This study has resulted in a broad range of findings, among which are that most parents attached great importance to and had high expectations for their children's acquisition of both Korean and English. At the same time, parents thought that having their children learn two languages would be not an easy task. Moreover, parents differed in their beliefs as to the appropriate time to balance the competing interest between learning Korean and English during the preschool years. The BP group placed a higher priority on their children's learning of Korean during the preschool years, spoke more Korean at and outside of home, and had more exposure to Korean literacy-related activities and materials in the home than did the ESP group. In the BP group, parents' attitudes to their children's learning of Korean were correlated with the frequency of the children's use of Korean literacy materials at home. The ESP group, on the other hand, placed a higher priority on their children's learning of English, spoke more English in their daily lives, and had more exposure to English literacy activities and materials in the home than the BP group did. The ESP parents' attitudes to their children's learning of English were correlated with the frequency of the children's use of English literacy materials at home. This study suggests that although Korean immigrant parents were positive about their children's development of both Korean and English, considerable work needs to be done for these families to support early bilingual and biliteracy development. Findings also show that parents' attitudes and practices regarding their children's first and second language learning are different in terms of the preschool types the children are attending.

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