Title

How First is First?: Revisiting Language Maintenance and Shift and the Meaning of L1/L2 in Three Retrospective Case Studies

Publication Date

2017

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Looking at data from three siblings from a German/Polish family that immigrated to the United States in 1952, we discuss bilingual language development and the effect of teacher support in schools on language maintenance and shift. All three subjects report that they did not give up their heritage language but rather came back to it at different times. It is this tension between motivations to use/maintain the heritage language that we focus on to render a valuable retrospective account for questions of language choice through qualitative data and personal voices. Holding the family variable constant, we show how developments within each subject’s life matter for language choice and highlight a dynamic nature of the notions of first language (L1) and bilingualism during different stages of the subjects’ lives. Additionally, regarding schooling, we show that a presumably subtractive language learning environment may not always result in subtractive bilingualism.

Original Citation

Latham Keh, M. & Stoessel, S. (2017) How First is First?: Revisiting Language Maintenance and Shift and the Meaning of L1/L2 in Three Retrospective Case Studies. International Multilingual Research Journal, 11(2), 101-114. doi: 10.1080/19313152.2016.1220801