Konnichwa! Namaste! A Comparative Study of Parental Motivations and Strategies in A Marathi and Japanese Heritage Language School in Melbourne

Mrs Pallavi Atre1

1La Trobe University, Australia

The purpose of this paper is to report on a work-in-progress project which examines parental motivation for heritage language school education. In this comparative case study of an emerging Marathi heritage school (2015) and an established Japanese heritage school (1986) in Melbourne I discuss what heritage language education signifies for individuals, families, ethnic communities and the wider Australian society, by examining the data collected in my fieldwork. The data consists of class observations and interviews with parents, former parents, teachers and community members. I then explore parental motivations and strategies, drawing on Bourdieu’s forms of capital and conversion strategies (1997) and the instrumental and integrative motivation continuum (Gardner and Lambert 1972) as analytical tools. I also review the challenges emerging heritage language schools face, and highlight practical measures to promote heritage language maintenance.


Pallavi’s interest in heritage language derives from her experience as a diaspora mother of a 12 year old growing in Melbourne. She is an Indian by origin, having done her Masters in Japanese, having spent a couple of years in Japan and settled in Australia 9 years ago. Today while living in Melbourne as a mother she sees the challenge of second generation immigrants’ language maintenance. Currently pursuing PhD in her study “Participation in heritage language schools and its consequences: Second generation Marathi and Japanese in Melbourne”. She would like to bring her multicultural and multilingual capacity to this study.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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