Faculty of Social sciences and Health care Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra (SLOVAKIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN16 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 5089-5094
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.2204
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Roma come to Europe from India as a strongly different cultural group (different socialization standards, clothing, language, music, temperament, faith, tradition and customs). Roma live in the area of Slovakia several centuries (first known reference is from 1322), in some historical periods they were violently assimilated, they couldn’t develop their culture and language, carry on with their values and norms and reciprocally influence the majority society. They were still able to preserve elements of their own ethnical identity (for example language) in such conditions. On the other hand, social exclusion influenced the growth of concentrated settlements, cross-generation reproduction of poverty and affiliated bad living conditions and low level of education.

In Slovakia, the statute of being a minority together with all its rights was acknowledged to Roma community only in the year 1991. Nevertheless, the vitality of this community, as described by Giles and Johnson (1987) in ethnolinguistic theory, has remained very low.

The contribution is focused on the language competence of Roma children from a socially disadvantaged, marginalized Roma community. State Educational program Slovakia defines socially disadvantaged environment (poverty or disadvantage culture) as environment, which given the social and linguistic conditions insufficient to stimulate the development of mental, emotional and self-control qualities of the individual, does not support the effective socialization and does not provide adequate incentives for the development of personality. The child, which live in adequately stimulating environment and its social environment can be evaluated as filling the cultural and socialisation norms of major society, gradually verifies the ontogenetic tasks. In the age of 6 years he/she is prepared to be educated in the school. Developed communication skill according to criteria used in school maturity tests: adopted learning language, appropriate word bank, ability to communicate with an adult, ability to follow communication rules (request, thank), ability to reproduce short poem or recently uttered complex sentence. But the totally different life situation is the situation of the child living in social exclusion in marginalised Roma community. Roma child can’t speak Slovak, which is the learning language. Even the native language causes problems because the Romani word bank is insufficient for the needs of communication at school. Language code is evaluated as limited (Bernstein, 1981), caused by lack of stimuli in environment; semantic network is weakly structured, terms are not differentiated and insufficiently defined.

The authors find the difference in the vocabulary of Roma and Slovak children upon entering school. Also in the subtest of the Heidelberg test of language development they confirmed the difference in the grammatical correctness of sentences. Slovak children from adequately stimulating environment acquired the higher score.
Roma children, language competence, socially disadvantaged environment.