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Korean Immigrant Mothers’ Perspectives: The Meanings of a Korean Heritage Language School for Their Children’s American Early Schooling Experiences

Abstract

This study examines what a Korean heritage language school means to Korean immigrant families and their children, considering Korean immigrant mothers’ perspectives on American early schooling. As part of an ethnographic research project on Korean-American children’s peer culture in a heritage school, seven mothers, two guardians (grandmothers), and their young children were observed and interviewed during one academic year. The analysis showed that the heritage language school functions as a social and emotional support system, a buffer for reducing the detachment from parents, and a safety net for the Korean-American children’s challenging lives. The Korean immigrant mothers also showed that they felt burdened by different cultural views of their children’s behaviors, and described how their children were often considered problematic. The social and culture barriers caused by their immigrant status profoundly influenced their reasons for sending their children to a Korean heritage language school. This study suggests that teachers’ deep understanding of culturally different perspectives on children’s behaviors, along with systematic social and emotional support, can help these children attain psychological well-being.

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Notes

  1. All names of places and participants are pseudonyms.

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Correspondence to Jinhee Kim.

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Kim, J. Korean Immigrant Mothers’ Perspectives: The Meanings of a Korean Heritage Language School for Their Children’s American Early Schooling Experiences. Early Childhood Educ J 39, 133–141 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-011-0453-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-011-0453-1

Keywords

  • Korean immigrant mothers
  • Korean-American children
  • Informal school context
  • Culturally different perspectives
  • Heritage language school
  • Home-school relationship