Essential / Pragmatic

There are clear, practical reasons for your family to keep the heritage language(s) alive. They might be needed because not all family members living at home speak the societal language, or because there are plans to move or return to the country where the heritage language is spoken. This does not mean that there is no emotion attached to the language, and you might well score highly in other quadrants, too.

People who score highly in this quadrant often have fewer issues with needing the heritage language to be recognised within the family and outside society, since practical needs are often more immediately apparent than emotional ones. However, this does not mean that it is all plain sailing. Children (or other family members) may have a different understanding of what might be an essential, pragmatic need for you. For example, if you are living temporarily in another country, a child may still form important emotional attachments to this country and the language, feeling less connected to the country to which you are planning to return. Try to help your child build and maintain real connections. If you cannot visit, social media can be a great opportunity to engage and stay in touch with friends and family members. If your child will be expected to re-join school in another country, they may understandably be worried about fitting in, both socially and academically. Make sure that you are as clear as possible about curriculum requirements, so that you know what to expect. However, be aware that your child may struggle with additional pressures, such as maintaining a high standard in the heritage language while also dealing with the expectations of the school they are currently attending. Try to build a strong network around school, heritage language school (if applicable), friends, family, and home to support them. Helping your child to build on both their languages – not independently, but as part of their “full linguistic repertoire” might be one way of doing this. Encourage, for example, planning of work in a mix of languages, or the heritage language, even if it ultimately has to be produced in the school language. Talk to school about entering reading in the heritage language into the reading diary, and having this acknowledged by the school.

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