ERIC Number: ED206202
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Jul
Reference Count: 0
Hmong Refugees in an American City: A Case Study in Language Contact.
Downing, Bruce T.; Dwyer, Sharon
This study examines some aspects of the interaction of one Hmong family with the English-speaking community to determine what sort of language contact situations they encounter and what means they use to communicate in those situations. Observations revealed that English language use outside of the classroom was limited. The subjects did not seek out and, sometimes actively avoided, situations requiring the use of English. Where the use of English could not be avoided, communal communication strategies involving spokespersons or interpreters (occasionally a younger member of the family) were employed. Only when spokespersons were unavailable did adults attempt to communicate directly. This action questions the common assumption in second language teaching that what is taught in the classroom will be reinforced through outside language contacts. This Hmong practice may reflect not only a lack of appropriate language learning skills but also a tradition of community isolation and self-sufficiency carried over from the Hmong experience as a geographically isolated minority in Laos and China. Communal strategies of survival communication might provide a way for the community as a whole to succeed even though some individuals might never learn to communicate in English well enough to survive alone. (Author/JK)
Descriptors: Acculturation, Adolescents, Adult Literacy, Adults, Communication Skills, Culture Contact, English (Second Language), Ethnography, Functional Literacy, Group Experience, Indochinese, Interpreters, Morphology (Languages), Nonverbal Communication, Pronunciation, Reading Skills, Refugees, Relocation, Syntax, Translation
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Hmong People; Language Contact
Note: Paper presented at the Annual University of Wisconsin-Madison Linguistics Symposium (10th, Madison, WI, 1981).