Italian Studies Research Seminar Series | Bilingual practices and language maintenance: The case of two Italian-Australian families
Bilingual practices and language maintenance: The case of two Italian-Australian families
This presentation focuses on a study exploring the bilingual practices of two Italian-Australian families living in Sydney. In these homes one parent is a speaker of Italian while the other parent is a speaker of English, with both languages spoken daily to the children. The investigation is concerned with the ways in which language choices are deployed and negotiated by parents and children in everyday interactions and, especially, within practices aimed at maintaining Italian and bilingualism in the home. Data are collected through audio and video recordings of family mealtimes and siblings’ playtime and analysed through a conversation analytical approach. Findings show that distinctive family language policies characterize the two homes, namely, a strict separation between the two languages in one family and a flexible use of the two languages in the other. In both families, the linguistic practices of the Italian-speaking parents are crucial in relation to the implementation of the use of Italian by the children in conversation. In particular, the detailed sequential analysis reveals that the Italian-speaking parents employ linguistic and other semiotic resources to enact discourse strategies as highly constraining on language use, such as in the case of the first participant family, and as low- or non-constraining, as observed in the second family. The findings point to family bilingual practices as collaboratively constructed and accomplished by participants and to everyday family talk as the locus of language maintenance or language shift.
About the speaker
Daniela Panìco is a PhD candidate in the Department of Italian Studies, University of Sydney, and has recently completed her thesis exploring bilingual practices in Italian-Australian families. Her research interests range from the fields of linguistics, bilingualism and family language policy to interactional and conversation analytical approaches to the study of bilingual language use. She holds a Degree in Pedagogy and Second Language Teaching (Università degli Studi di Lecce, Italy) and has extensively taught Italian and English as L2 in Italy and the UK, within programs promoted by the Italian Ministry of Education and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the UK, Daniela was responsible for projects supporting bilingualism at the level of the family, school and society, in cooperation with the British Council and the Department of Foreign Language Learning and Teaching, King’s College, London. Daniela was also a member of the international committee working on the development of the Syllabus for the Teaching of Modern Foreign Languages, in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR, Council of Europe). Currently, Daniela is working at the University of Sydney as a tutor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and in the Department of Italian Studies. She is also a tutor in the School of International Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney.
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