The role of parental attitudes in acquisition of Welsh as L3 among Polish migrants to Wales

Thematic Section: Language and communication in transcultural families

family language policy, transcultural bi/multilingual families, translanguaging, migrant families, language ideology

Karolina Rosiak, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań
Poland’s accession the European Union in 2004 resulted in unprecedented economic migration flows from Poland to the UK. Unlike previous Polish migration flows which tended to concentrate around big cities in England and Scotland, this time it reached rural and semi-rural areas that had not attracted many newcomers previously. According to Migration Observatory, over 18,000 Poles lived in Wales in 2014, constituting the most numerous non-British born ethnic group living in, officially bilingual, Wales. The largest Polish communities can be found in Llanelli (South West Wales), Wrexham (North East Wales), and Cardiff (South Wales).
Wales is an officially bilingual country with Welsh (de iure) and English (de facto) as her official languages based on The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011. Welsh is a minority language spoken by around 20% of the population (i.e. 583,000 people), the biggest percentage of whom live in the west and north west though with considerable “migrant” communities in urban centres, such as Cardiff. In their 2017 document Cymraeg 2050: A million Welsh speakers, The Welsh Assembly Government outlined their strategies to promote the acquisition and use of Welsh in public domains. The document stresses the importance of continuing providing obligatory bilingual education to all students between five and sixteen, which has been in place since early 90s.
In this paper I will discuss attitudes of Polish parents towards their children having to learn Welsh in schools vis-à-vis the acquisition and maintenance of their heritage language, and English, the dominant language in Wales and the world’s lingua franca.Data discussed in this presentation was obtained through qualitative research (semi-structured interviews) conducted in Aberystwyth, Wales in May-June 2018 among the so-called ‘New Polish Migrants’.