First Advisor

Dannelle Diane Stevens

Date of Publication

Spring 5-26-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction




Heritage language speakers -- United States -- Attitudes, Korean American children -- Language, Children of immigrants -- Attitudes, Women immigrants -- Attitudes, Korean Americans -- Cultural assimilation, Social capital (Sociology), Language maintenance



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 138 pages)


Through increasing immigration, the U.S. society is becoming more linguistically and culturally diverse. Yet, as many U.S. language minority groups seek to assimilate, they face many challenges. One challenge is that their home language does not match the dominant language, English, that their children are learning at school. For Korean communities, maintaining Korean language presents a problem for families, especially for the mothers and children. The purpose of this study was to explore the U.S. Korean immigrant mothers' and children's perceptions of and experience with maintaining the Korean language and the effect that has on the development of social capital and cultural identity. I conducted two focus groups--one with mothers, another with their children, using a semi-structured interview protocol. I used narrative inquiry as my qualitative approach and then used thematic analysis to summarize my findings. I identified four major themes: (a) use of Korean language: positive and negative experiences, (b) perspectives on Korean language maintenance: benefits and limitations, (c) effect of parental involvement: provision of social capital, and (d) value of cultural identity formation: acculturation and the reality of learning Korean. This study revealed that parental support for children's heritage language retention seems to have an effect on language maintenance. Thus, because of this seemingly strong relationship, there seem to be significant benefits for children, families, and the overall society when the U.S. educators and other Korean immigrant parents strongly encourage American-born Korean youth to maintain their mother tongue in the U.S.


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