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Background of the Study

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  1. Korean community is one of the most salient ethnic groups in the United States in terms of collective effort to maintain their language and culture. There are approximately 1,200 Korean community language schools in the U.S., most of which are operated by Korean Christian churches in the form of weekend schools (Zhou & Kim, 2006). Despite the active community involvement, these schools have shown low success rates due to the lack of trained teachers, outdated teaching materials, and unmotivated students (Lee & Shin, 2008). Even though the ideal way of maintaining the language is to bring it into the regular school curriculum, there are currently only five Korean-English two-way immersion schools in the U.S. (Center for Applied Linguistics, n.d.). Thus, many Korean immigrants choose to relearn their mother tongue as adults. The current research is a multiple case study about two adult 2nd generation Korean Americans who lost their mother tongue through the course of their lives but chose to redevelop Korean. <Student enrollment at Korean community language schools in US> Adulthood: Exploring Stage Acknowledgements and Works Cited Background of the Study Research Questions Participants Angela:When my oldest brother was a baby, he spoke Korean. . . he has teacher actually said to them he have to speak more English in the house, because he couldn't keep up. So then, they took it (.) veryliterally, and then just stopped using Korean. . . My family is a little bit of a rare case of we just never learned it Peter: My parents are very educated, and they learned English quickly, so they um: (.) spoke to us [in English]. . . Actually, I guess it was out of habit they spoke (.) Korean. >I mean they spoke English.< Angela: I didn't wanna know [Korean language] (.) at that time because I (1.2) when you are in junior high, you don't care about that, or you are too busy doing something else. (About her visit to South Korea after graduating from high school) If they [older Koreans]saw me, and I couldn't speak, and knew that I came from America, they got really upset. like (.) why don't you know your own, your own native language. . . And so for a most, a long, a long time, my life felt like that, if I was (.) around older Koreans, and I tried to speak Korean, or I didn't understand, there was a lot of negative emotions with it. Peter:Dichotomies. It's like I didn't, why are they speaking in Korean. I didn't really understand them, and I distanced myself from them, and then (.) but then I wanted to fit in with them because (1.0) um: I am Korean. I am also Korean, I am not only American. Angela’s Changing Point: I remember feeling regretful after she [my grandmother] passed away that I didn't I understood generally what she was saying [during my last visit to her house]. I could tell that she was saying you know like oh you know good things, but I couldn't, I didn't know what exactly she was saying. So I regretted (.) not understanding, and not being able to communicate with her. Peter’s Changing Point: (About his ten-month stay in South Korea) Studying [Korean] with all Yonsei students [in Korea], I felt the love for (.) the country and love for um: you know, just being able to communicate (.) with native Koreans. And um, it was just: um, yeah, being in that environment with people from every country. And like (.) it just made me think of my roots as a Korean American. Angela’s Motivation and Goals: Definitely learning Korean helps me understand the culture, and sort of (1.0) like subtleties of culture that otherwise you wouldn't learn, just from looking at it maybe? Um: (.) but I think that helps me to identify to also with me  and how I think differently↑. Because (1.0) I think, especially being in a marriage with somebody that is not of Korean background↑, you see the differences much more and especially when you start thinking about a family, or even interacting with each other's families?   . . . I want to at least be able to understand when somebody is talking to me, even if I can’t say back. Peter’s Motivation and Goals: My goals (.) are to be, to be fluent in Korean . . .um: to be a translator for (.) the Korean people so that (.) they can understand, and other Americans can understand what a Korean person's saying, and: and to, to be a like a Korean teacher. I want to uh teach Korean (.) so that they [“other Americans”] can (.) learn how to communicate. Childhood: Unexplored Ethnicity Ethnic Identity as a Developmental and Social Concept Ethnic identity is largely influenced by one’s changing positionalityof self within different social contexts , which, in both cases, ranged from family and school to the macro contexts of United States and South Korea. Ethnic Identity in Relation to Language Language is closely related to how one identifies with his or her ethnic group. Conclusions Special thanks to: Professor Sharon Ravitch, ProfessorNancy Hornberger, Professor Yuko Butler, and my great students. Center for Applied Linguistics. (n.d.). Directory of Two-Way Bilingual Immersion Programs in the U.S. Retrieved from Cross, W (1978). The Thomas and Cross models of psychological nigrescence: A literature review. Journal of Black Psychology, 4, 13-31. Gilroy, P. (2000). Between camps. London, UK: Penguin. Hall, S. (1992). The questions of cultural identity. In S. Hall, D. Held, & T. McGrew (Eds.), Modernity and its futures (pp. 274-325). Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Lee, J. S., & Shin, S. (2008). Korean heritage language education in the United States: The current state, opportunities and possibilities. Heritage Language Journal, 6(2), 1-20. Marcia, J. (1980). Identity in adolescence. In J. Adelson (Ed.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (pp. 159-187). New York: Wiley. Phinney, J. (1989). Stages of ethnic identity in minority group adolescents. Journal of Early Adolescence, 9, 34-49 Tajfel, H. (1981). Human groups and social categories. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Zhou, M., & Kim. S. S. (2006). Community forces, social capital, and educational achievement: The case of supplementary education in the Chinese and Korean immigrant communities. Harvard Educational Review, 76(1), 1-29. Adolescence to Young Adulthood: Identity Conflict I am a doctoral student studying Educational Linguistics at University of Pennsylvania. My research interest is in bilingual education in the United States as well as in East Asia, the identity formation of 2nd generation Asian Americans, and curriculum development for Korean heritage language learners. Currently, I am teaching Korean at the Society of Young Korean Americans in Philadelphia. I am also involved in Asia-Pacific Education, Language Minorities, and Migration (ELMM) network at Penn. By following each participant’s path of learning Korean throughout their lives, the current research aims to address the following questions: (1) What factors have affected these Korean Americans’ language shift toward English? (2) Why do they strive to relearn Korean as adults? ↓ (3) How does their language use and motivation relate to their ethnic identity? Siwon Lee, Educational Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania ( Cases of Adult Korean Heritage Language Learners (Pilot Study) Reclaiming Heritage: Presenter Information Theoretical Framework (1) Ethnic identity as a part of social identity: “Part of an individual’s self-concept which derives from his knowledge of his membership of a social group (or groups) together with the value and emotional significance attached to that membership” (Tajfel, 1981, p. 255) (2) Ethnic identity development models *One’s identity is either diffuse, which means that he/she has not given much thought about issues of own ethnicity; or foreclosed, which means that he/she shows commitment to either one’s own ethnic group or the dominant group under the influence of parents, community members, and peers. **Before the exploring stage, identity crisis stage may be added when one may become aware of the issues of one’s own ethnicity due to significant experience but still rejects to explore his/her own ethnicity (Cross, 1978). (3) Ethnic identity and language choice The current study will be based on this postmodernist understanding of ethnic identity and language (Gilroy, 2000; Hall 1992). Postmodernist epistemologists assert that social identities are hybrid, dynamic, and complex and that language is a contingent—not the only essential—feature of one’s ethnicity. Here, contingency does not mean insignificance. While language may not be a determining factor of one’s identity, a number of communities form strong solidarity around their ethnicity and language regardless of the perceived status of language within the society, which may account for language maintenance as well as language shift of minority language speakers. Research Methods The current multiple case studydefines a case, or the unit of analysis, as each individual situated in different learning settings, and the differences and similarities across cases will shed light on the overarching theme of the relationship between heritage language and ethnic identities of Korean Americans. The study adopted a range of qualitative research methods including semi-structured interviews and research journals. Besides informal interaction with the researcher, the participants were interviewed twice during the two months of data collection period. The first round of interviews followed the chronological order of participants’ experiences of learning or using Korean language throughout their lifetime, and the second interviews were the follow-ups of the first interviews.