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Recordings of the Conversations with the Children and Their Families

There were 310 min of recorded data from the time when the informants were two to three years of age, and 390 min of recorded data from the time when the informants were ten years of age. The choice of age for the first recordings was based on the discovery by a number of studies (Rontu 2005, Juan-Garau and Perez-Vidal 2001) that when a child reaches the age of three years, parents begin to more strictly employ strategies that guide the child towards monolingual language usage. Child language research, however, shows that at two to three years of age children go through a sudden change in their language development.

As a rule, the researcher was not present at the recordings. Instead, families were encouraged to record some of their everyday situations where both the mother and the father were interacting with the child. In some recordings, other people were also present, for example siblings.

Interviews at the Age of 10-11

The goal of the interviews was to discover the children’s opinions of bilingualism and compare the children’s language usage with the early stages of their language acquisition, as well as how parental input and attitudes influenced it. The researcher interviewed the children in Estonian (as it was their shared language of communication). The interviews included the themes of language usage in various situations and the children’s thoughts and attitudes on bilingualism. The assumption was that at the age of 10-11, the subjects were sufficiently aware of language to be able to observe their own language usage (see Jokela and Paulson 2010).

Table 1 First phase of the study: information on the participating families

Family

Target child: Gender/age (years; months)

Other children in the family: gender/age (years; months)

Mother:

background

Father: background

1

CHI1 : Girl

Girl

Estonian

Finnish

3;1 - 3;2

1;2 - 1;11

Ten years in Finland

Two months in Estonia, and one month per year on holiday

2

CHI2 : Boy

Girl

Finnish

Estonian

3;7 - 4;1

8;3 - 8;10

Ten years in Estonia

Three years in Finland

Girl

5;1 - 5;8

Table 2 Second phase of the study: information on the same participating families

Family

Target child: gender/age (years; months)

Other children in the family: gender/age (years; months)

Mother:

background

Father:

background

1 (moved to Estonia two years before data collection)

CHI1 : Girl

Girl

Estonian

Finnish

10;8 - 11;0

8;8 - 9;0

Ten years in Finland;

past two years in Estonia

past two years in Estonia

2

CHI2 : Boy

Girl

Finnish

Estonian

10;8 - 10;10

15;4 - 15;6

Ten years in Estonia;

Ten years in Finland;

Girl

12;2 - 12;4

past ten years in Finland

past six months in Estonia

Girl

6;4 - 6;6

 
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