What is it about?

My research originated in my personal desire to raise my two children, who were born in Australia, to become confident bilinguals. To me, the basic role and responsibility of motherhood is to play a role of a Bibimbap mother for children. What do I mean by Bibimbap mothers? Bibimbap is one of the well-known traditional Korean healthy foods, served in a pot with a variety of lightly and separately seasoned vegetables (sometimes with beef mince), rice and chili sauce. Just as we prepare Bibimbap for our children, Bibimbap mothers manage language-related activities and create home environments for young children to use, maintain, or develop languages. These Korean mothers’ home-based informal efforts to foster children’s knowledge and skills, and to refine their bilingual abilities, are described as family language policies (FLPs). I conducted qualitative research by collecting data from a focus group interview with six Bibimbap mothers, who have a school-aged child attending a Korean community language program in Sydney, and their FLP daily logs that each family maintained over a six-week period. The Bibimbap mothers in my project unfolded the complexity of language- and literacy-related practices they managed in the family domain. They also highlighted the important nexus of language, identity and cultural values, in relation to FLP, and the experiences of young language learners residing in culturally and linguistically diverse contexts such as Australia.

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Why is it important?

Growing up as bilingual is a long and complicated process, consisting of many components. Amongst many, parental beliefs and everyday practices at home have a significant effect on children’s bilingual abilities. The influential roles of parents in support of language and literacy development at home are acknowledged as a key contributor to successful bilingual improvement for children. Often the level of language those young learners use, either English or their heritage language (HL), have a significant effect on children’s today and tomorrow. This article would be useful for parents from language minority communities with emerging migrant bilingual children to compare, contrast, and improve the experiences and achievements of their children, and to access some practical tips recommended as family literacy activities. The findings of this article will enable educators and policymakers to access authentic information about how bilingualism is practiced in multiple ways within these families, to develop culturally appropriate curricula, and to build a better partnership with multilingual and multicultural populations in Australia.

Perspectives

The Korean mothers are the head chefs, able to meticulously choose, add, and offer a rich and specific flavor of language and literacy activities, to produce a nice dish of bilingualism for their children. Through this article, you will understand the richness, diversity and specificity of their FLPs in support of their children’s bilingualism, by maintaining the Korean language and culture at home, alongside the English language.

Dr. Eun Kyong Park
University of New South Wales

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Korean Bibimbap mothers’ family language policies (FLPs) for their children’s bilingualism in Australia, Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, January 2021, John Benjamins, DOI: 10.1075/aral.20001.par.
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