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Abstract

This study explored why and how Russian speaking parents in an Irish context maintained the Russian language in their school-age children. Using a self-administered unstandardised questionnaire, the opinions of 16 Russian-speaking parents, reporting on 24 children, were surveyed. Of this sample, five parents were then interviewed using focus group methodology. The main findings revealed that Russian-speaking parents living in Ireland strongly supported Russian language maintenance in their families and wanted their children to be as fluent as possible in the Russian language. The reasons for the support of Russian language were: cultural preservation, general knowledge of languages in addition to English, and communication with the homeland. Methods employed to maintain the Russian language included conversing with children through Russian, reading and watching Russian TV/DVD. Although most parents spoke only Russian to their children, just three children were considered by their parents to have sufficient language skills to interact through Russian in Russian speaking countries. Interestingly, 15 children were thought to have adequate skills in Russian to speak with those outside their immediate family when in Ireland. Congruent with other studies of bilingualism, development of English, or the secondary, majority language, was also important to parents, as they lived in a dominant English-speaking society.

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