Peripheral / Emotional

It can be difficult to differentiate between an essential emotional need, and a peripheral emotional connection – often, it is a differentiation by degrees: if your emotional reaction is so strong that it affects your mental health, it is likely to be essential, if it is more in the “it would be nice if” category, it is more likely to be peripheral. This is not to say that a peripheral emotional connection cannot lead to strong heritage language maintenance – parents in this category may be more relaxed about language use, and more likely to avoid confrontation about the heritage language in the home. This can be both good and bad. On the one hand, flexible family language policies may lead to potentially less heritage language usage, on the other, avoiding fights and confrontation about the language can help children to keep an open mind, and may actually strengthen their own links to the language, if they do not feel pressured.

Again, the importance is how other family members view the heritage language/s. Sometimes, the parents may have an essential emotional connection, while children may only have a peripheral emotional connection to the heritage language, especially after they start school. This is unsurprising when we consider the many competing influences seeking to shape a child’s sense of identity. By creating personal history through the heritage language (through family time spent together, book sharing, joint playing of games, apps, watching films, etc.) parents can help strengthen emotional connections, leading to further intrinsic interest in keeping the heritage language alive.

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