EXPLORING LITERACY CULTURES WITHIN FAMILIES WITH IMMIGRANT BACKGROUND IN GREECE
The incorporation of immigrants to the Greek society creates a new linguistic environment and requires the restructure of the education system, aiming to respect the cultural background and the linguistic needs of people with immigrant background.
A major part of research carried out in the Greek context views bilingualism of foreign students as an educational problem to which a solution must be given. Students with immigrant background and their parents appear to be absent from the public dialogue.
The present research adopts an approach that focuses on immigrants themselves, the children and their parents. This research aims to explore the attitudes of immigrant parents and specifically how important they believe it is for their children to master their native language as well as the Greek language. The empirical study was conducted in Greek primary schools of Attica and Evia prefectures during April and May of 2006. Its basic principle was the high value of family culture as an important factor that can support foreign students achieve literacy and the belief that the education system has to take into consideration the opinion of those students and their parents.
The research method (use of questionnaires) focused on the involvement of the immigrant parents towards the achievement of literacy by their children and on the exploration of their views, expectations and practices concerning the use and promotion of the native and the Greek language.
The research outcomes indicate that parents’ views about and practices towards supporting their children in being able to use their native and the Greek language can contribute to a positive development of bilingualism. Therefore, the parents of the sample in this research are positive towards bilingualism, create an encouraging family climate in the development of both languages and wish to have a bilingual education for their children. Nevertheless, from the findings of this research it is apparent that the children with immigrant background have developed higher literacy skills in the Greek language than their native one.