Study underway looking into language skills, use by children of Latvian nationals living abroad

Language skills and usage play a central role in the diaspora to maintain ties with Latvia and strengthen Latvian identity. Studies to date have shown that living abroad, especially in famiies of mixed ethnic origin, children of Latvian nationals assimilate very quickly. With your help researchers hope to establish the attitude of parents to the Latvian language and its use in the family and why and how Latvian language is maintained and strengthened among children.

Language skills and usage play a central role in the diaspora to maintain ties with Latvia and strengthen Latvian identity. Studies to date have shown that living abroad, especially in famiies of mixed ethnic origin, children of Latvian nationals assimilate very quickly.

For this reason one of the central aims of diaspora policy is the Latvian language education of children in the diaspora: support for Latvian language learning, and the maintenance of existing Latvian language skills in the diaspora. To achieve this aim, for a number of years now the Latvian Language Agency has provided varied support, including financial support to weekend diaspora language schools, distance education opportunities, as well as varied teaching and methodological materials. Yet the question remains:

  • how relevant and necessary is it for parents in the diaspora?
  • Do the resources developed and activities supported serve the needs of parents and children or could support possibly be needed elsewhere?

A team of migration researchers at the University of Latvia, with funding from the Ministry of Education and Science, are seeking answers to these questions in a new study. The aim of the research is to establish the attitude of parents to the Latvian language and its use in the family and why and how Latvian language is maintained and strengthened among children. The study will help to understand the situation in families in the Latvian diaspora and plan support mechanisms more effectively so that they meet the needs and wishes of parents.

At the completion of the study, research results will be published in an aggregated form (you will remain anonymous) on the website migracija.lv.

The study is being conducted until 12th October, and you can take part by clicking here. The survey may be filled out in English, Latvian or Russian.

Daina Gross is editor of Latvians Online. An Australian-Latvian she is also a migration researcher at the University of Latvia, PhD candidate, formerly a member of the board of the World Federation of Free Latvians, an author and translator into English of various books on industrial history in Latvia.

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