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Taiwanese-Vietnamese transnational marriage families in Taiwan: Perspectives from Vietnamese immigrant mothers and Taiwanese teachers

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Title: Taiwanese-Vietnamese transnational marriage families in Taiwan: Perspectives from Vietnamese immigrant mothers and Taiwanese teachers
Author(s): Chen, Eva C.
Director of Research: Miller, Peggy J.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Miller, Peggy J.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Chiu, Chi-Yue; Koven, Michéle; Lo, Adrienne; Rosengren, Karl S.; Fung, Heidi
Department / Program: Psychology
Discipline: Psychology
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Transnational marriage families immigrant women Taiwan Vietnam education
Abstract: In many parts of the world, immigration typically involves families emigrating from one country to another. However, transnational marriage, in which one spouse immigrates to the other spouse's county, has recently increased dramatically across Asia. This study focuses on Taiwan, where a significant number of Southeast Asian women have immigrated as spouses in the past decade; their children are now attending school. These trends have stimulated intense social and educational debate within the government and the public. However, little is known about these transnational marriages, how they socialize their children, or how the children fare once they enter the Taiwanese educational system. The current study focuses on Vietnamese women, one of the largest “new” immigrant groups in Taiwan. Specifically, I address Vietnamese immigrant mothers’ and Taiwanese teachers’ childrearing and educational goals, with the objective of assessing how their beliefs and goals for the children converge and diverge. I inquired into (1) immigrant mothers’ childrearing beliefs and goals (e.g., language choice, maintenance of Vietnamese culture, adaptation to Taiwanese culture) and (2) teachers’ educational goals and perceptions of immigrant mothers and children. The project was ethnographic in approach and longitudinal in design, involving 17 months of intensive participant-observation in two small towns with a high incidence of transnational marriage families. Fifty-nine hours of semi-structured audio-recorded interviews and 198 hours of video-recorded observations were collected. The analyses reported here were based on interviews with Vietnamese immigrant mothers of children (3-8 years old) and Taiwanese teachers (K-3rd grade). The Vietnamese mothers (who had been in Taiwan for at least 4 years) were comfortable speaking Mandarin Chinese; thus all interviews were conducted in Mandarin and transcribed verbatim in Chinese. Coding criteria, developed with an eye to cultural validity, were reliably applied. Results showed that the majority of immigrant mothers rapidly learned Mandarin Chinese. They were motivated by high educational aspirations for their children and realized that speaking Mandarin to their children was critical to children’s success in the early grades. Immigrant mothers also send their children to supplementary after-school programs. In addition, most Vietnamese mothers revealed that they tried to instill values from their home culture and hoped their children would eventually learn Vietnamese language and customs as well. They cited their own lack of power and control, in relation to husbands and in-laws, as a childrearing challenge. Despite a public discourse that forecasts educational problems for the children from transnational marriage families, Taiwanese teachers reported that these children did not have significant difficulties academically or interpersonally. Most teachers described challenges in communicating with immigrant mothers through the “communication book,” a written form of home-school exchange that is standard in Taiwanese schools. However, those teachers expressed appreciation for immigrant mothers’ efforts to communicate orally, such as calling or coming to school to speak with teachers in person. Thus, this study, which is the first to bring together the voices of immigrant mothers and Taiwanese teachers to illuminate their respective childrearing beliefs and educational goals, points to a strong convergence in their mutual commitment to education.
Issue Date: 2011-05-25
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/24366
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 by Eva Chian-Hui Chen. All rights reserved.
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-25
2013-05-26
Date Deposited: 2011-05
 

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