Academic Language Development of Moroccan-Berber Children in The Netherlands: A Study of Mother-child Interactions

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The main goal of this paper is to identify and investigate the acquisition and the development of academic language in 3 and 6-year-old Moroccan-Berber children, whose mother language (L1) is Tarifit Berber, in communicative contexts at home in The Netherlands. When children join school at the age of four, they are expected to acquire and use a specific register that is crucial in the context of schooling and which differs from the interactional language, which is used at home. This register, also called academic language, involves the use of language for explicit, cognitively demanding, and decontextualized communication in school-like contexts (Schleppegrell, 2004). First, a brief introduction will be given about the position of Moroccan children in the Dutch educational system. In addition, the concept of academic language and its importance in school success will be treated. Subsequently, the results will be presented. The corpus, which is used, is of naturally occurring speech collected from a sample of 10 Moroccan-Berber children talking with their mothers about a picture task. These children have been followed for a period of 3 years (longitudinal design) and this paper will deal with the first results. The aim of this study is to examine which aspects of academic language are acquired. To gain insight into the academic register mentioned above, the following research question is formulated: what are the characteristics of the language used in mother-child interactions: lexically, morpho-syntactically and textually? For this reason, The data is transcribed and analysed according to the conventions of CHILDES programme (Fletcher & MacWhinney, 1995). Furthermore, a specific coding scheme is used to code lexical, morpho-syntactic and textual aspects in order to investigate academic features of the language used in these interactions.


Keywords: Academic Language, Language of Schooling, Language Acquisition, Berber, Moroccans in the Netherlands
Stream: Language, Linguistics
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Mohammadi Laghzaoui

PhD Student, Faculty of Arts
Department of Language and Culture Studies, Tilburg University

Tilburg, Netherlands

Mr. Mohammadi Laghzaoui was born and raised in Morocco. He received his BA degree from Oujda University in Morocco. He, then, moved to The Netherlands where he obtained his MA degree in Linguistics from Tilburg University. He worked almost three years in a high school. Since October 2004, he is working as PhD researcher at Tilburg University on the following project: Academic language development of 3-6-year-old Moroccan-Berber children in communicative contexts at home and at school in The Netherlands. His area of interest is, among other things, sociolinguistics, language acquisition, Berber and Arabic in The Netherlands, bi-multilingualism in the multicultural society.

Ref: H08P0123