Sample Question 6                                              (______ / 20 marks)

In the light of what you studied about language choice in multilingual communities, language and identity (two perspectives of identity), and language maintenance and shift, describe the following situation using proper linguistic terms.

 

Hassan's parents left Bahrain for Australia when he was four. They worked there for three years where Hassan went to school. The school he went to was a government school so there were no Arabic or Islamic studies lessons. At home, his mother spoke English with him while his father communicated with him in Arabic. That was because the mother insisted on talking to him in English, saying that this is the language he needs to learn to emerge in society, while his father assumed that he is getting sufficient input from school and that their role was to teach him Arabic. His father paid a tutor to come to their house on Sunday Mornings to teach Hassan some Quran and modern standard Arabic. The lessons were not consistent since they had to stop if the family had plans outdoor and also during exam periods. Hassan already spoke fluent English as a native speaker at his age by the end of the first academic year. However, as time passed, he became less and less comfortable with the Arabic and Quran lessons as he felt extra pressure to study in the weekends when and he felt that they were boring and not connected to what he was doing or needed to do. His Bahraini lexicon was limited to what he and his father talked about and he became less and less capable of expressing himself in Arabic. Whenever he needed to say something new, he would find it easier to say it in English. His father grew upset and scolded him repeatedly. This has created a gap between the two. His mother thought that, since they will eventually go back, he would learn some Arabic once he is back to Bahrain. She nevertheless insisted that he would join a private school in Bahrain once they return to prevent his English language competency from declining. Hassan loved reading. When it came to reading, he would read a lot in English, but also enjoyed reading some shorter and more simplified Arabic story books. They were normally sent to him by mail in bunches on occasions such as Eid, his birthday, the new year, etc. by his grandmother and grandfather back in Bahrain. This made the book have a special value to him. The family visited Bahrain once a year and stayed for six to eight weeks. When in Bahrain, Hassan would try his best to speak in Arabic to his grandparents to show respect to them and they were happy that he would try. Nevertheless, he spoke in English to his cousins and aunts. Hassan was very concerned about how he would fit in once they would return to Bahrain, and thought he would feel like a stranger.

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