Multilingualism Among Young Adults of Moroccan Descent in Germany and France.

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Youssef ABID, Goethe University, Germany
With policy emphasis on the acquisition and competence of the national language in Germany and France, multilingualism among the descendants of immigrants has been discouraged in educational settings and neglected in research. In my ongoing PhD research, I study the biographical and social meaning and importance of growing up with a variety of languages in one’s own family and the consequences of monolingual educational settings for young adults.

So far, there has not been much research on language use and its meaning for the younger generation in immigrant families or on multilingualism as a social practice. Also, little is known about the perception of the devaluation of the family language(s) and about social processes of exclusion related to speaking “immigrant languages”.

My research interest focuses on biographical narratives of young adults in Moroccan immigrant families in Germany and France about their experiences of multilingualism. My objective is to understand more about their experiences and the challenges they are confronted with, in their families, in educational settings and in the public sphere, as well as about the discrimination and exclusion experiences they are confronted with.

Based on comparing cases in Germany and France, I would like to present a first analysis to illustrate the concept of multilingualism among descendants of immigrants as a “normal” social practice, with all spoken languages as part of their biography and identity. Then, I would discuss the challenge of dealing with multilingualism in monolingual societies. The immigrants’ descendants are aware of the necessity to learn their family languages, relating them to their historical and political contexts. Moreover, they consider the languages as competences that open up international possibilities and transnational options. But at the same time, the social devaluation of the family languages is painful and confusing, which leads to question the actual language policies.