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Working paper

“The main task is to preserve Russian”: Language transmission in migrant and mixed families in Madrid

Working Papers of Centre for German and European Studies. WP. Centre for German and European Studies, 2017. No. 9.
Akifyeva R. N.
The working paper presents the results of a study of language transmission in small communities of Russian-speaking migrants living in Madrid. The research seeks to clarify the role played in this process by the characteristics of the environment, the resources of small communities and families, as well as the motivation of parents, the barriers and difficulties they face, and the strategies they use to overcome them. The empirical base consists of interviews with Russian-speaking parents, teachers and organizers of Russian-language structured forms of activities for children, as well as data of observation conducted during visits to these programs, meetings and walks with parents and children. The study demonstrates that while the super-diversity framework describes well what happens with the first-generation migrants, intergenerational changes in the practices of the use of language are great relates to the main conclusions of the assimilation theory. Using the superdiversity lens to study the language transmission has made it possible to pay attention to various combinations of migrants' attributes, which ultimately determine the existing diversity in the language practices and communicative environments of first-generation migrants. There are important similarities, which lie across borders of the dichotomy of mixedness - migrantness of a family. Many parents consider bilingualism as an integral part of good parenting, possess a number of techniques that are considered important, but in practice they face a lot of difficulties caused by specific features of family, “communities” and social context that they cannot overcome.