Language Research Project on the Polish Diaspora Launched

Posted on: 27 June 2007

A research project on Second language acquisition and native language maintenance in the Polish diaspora in Ireland and France was recently launched in the Polish Embassy. Under the leadership of Prof David Singleton, Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Centre for Language and Communication Studies as Principal Investigator, the research is funded by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The recent influx of Polish migrants into Ireland has not, to date, been the subject of substantive research from a linguistico-cultural perspective. This multi-disciplinary, comparative project seeks to make good this deficit with respect to the acquisition and use of the languages of the host community and to the transmission of the first language of migrants to their children. The project is designed to yield both sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic findings and, also, to incorporate sociocultural and educational dimensions.

A parallel investigation of the Polish community in France will be carried out to identify language similarities and differences between the two communities. The point of this comparison is that Polish people have been migrating to France over a very long period. Notwithstanding the divergences between circumstances under which the two groups migrated, the language behaviour patterns of Poles who settled in France will provide indicators regarding the linguistic future of Poles in Ireland. Given there have been no attempts in linguistic studies so far to compare Polish migrant communities in two different European receiving countries,the project will constitute an original contribution to the area of sociolinguistic research and migration studies.

Both qualitative and quantitative research methods will be employed (questionnaires, interviews, language elicitation instruments, media search) to determine the factors which condition the success or failure of second language acquisition in the above contexts, and those factors which affect the transmission of Polish language and culture to the children of Polish immigrants. Such findings will inform debate about second language acquisition and also policy making in relation to integration of the Polish community in Ireland.