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Title:The heritage language acquisition and education of an indigenous group in Taiwan: An ethnographic study of Atayals in an elementary school
Author(s):Chen, Hao
Director of Research:Dressman, Mark A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Dressman, Mark A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):McCarthey, Sarah J.; Bresler, Liora; Huang, Wen-Hao
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Secondary & Continuing Educ
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):heritage language
Indigenous Taiwanese
ethnographic study
Abstract:In this study, I used ethnographic methods to investigate the learning and education of the heritage language of a group of indigenous students in Taiwan. Traditionally, their heritage language, Atayal, was not written. Also, Atayal was taught at schools only recently. As one of Austronesian language families, Atayal language and culture could have been part of the origin of other Polynesians in the Pacific Islands. Furthermore, as an Atayal member I was interested in knowing the current status of Atayal language among the Atayal students in school. I also wanted to know the attitudes of Atayal learning of the participants as well as how they saw the future of Atayal language. Last, I investigated the relationship of Atayal language and Atayal cultures. I stayed in an Atayal village in the mid mountain area in Taiwan for six months to collect observation and interview data. The research site included the Bamboo Garden Elementary School and the Bamboo Garden Village. In the 27 Atayal students who participated in this study, 16 were girls and 11 were boys. They were between Grade 2 to Grade 6. Among the 18 adult participants, 13 were females and 5 were males. These adults usually had more than just one identity, such as a mother and a staff or a teacher and a villager. In the findings, I present four themes. In Theme One the results shows that there is only a little improvement since the government of Taiwan began to encourage indigenous peoples in Taiwan to speak their heritage languages. In Theme Two I present the findings that reveal the situation that Atayal language is less competitive compared to other surrounded languages such as Chinese and South Min. In Theme Three I present the situation that English doesn’t have a role in the multilingual society the participants live. Last, with my data related to Atayal cultural activities I present the observation that there is a gap between Atayal culture and the learning and education of Atayal language. In the chapter of Discussion I present two educational implications. First, I urge that the mechanism of the retrieval of the heritage languages in Taiwan to be through collaborative process. I suggest that such collaborative process shall honor the local culture and knowledge and the local activities. Second, I suggest that the curriculum for the heritage languages of the indigenous Taiwanese should be multicultural one, in which the heritage language and Chinese is taught from Kindergarten to G 2, and English is added in Grade 3. Again, I suggest that the multilingual education for languages should be through collaborative process in which the local fluent heritage-language speakers are invited. Their knowledge of local culture and language uses should be honored in this process. My conclusion in this dissertation is an inspiration to continue my studies and learning about the retrieval and development of the heritage languages among the indigenous people in Taiwan and around the world through promoting a collaborative process.
Issue Date:2012-09-18
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Hao Chen
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-09-18
Date Deposited:2012-08

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