The Knowledge of Romani and School Readiness of Roma Children
Keywords:Roma children, ecological theory, integrative theory, Romani language assessment test, school readiness.
The paper presents results from an international research project looking at Roma children between the ages of 3 and 6 years old. Thirty Roma children from Southwest Bulgaria and 30 Roma children from East Slovakia were tested with a psycholinguistic test in Romani language, measuring the knowledge of different grammatical categories. In most East European countries, the children are tested employing psychological/IQ tests in the official languages of the country and if the child does not understand the test task, because of a lack of knowledge in that language, s/he is deemed to have “light mental retardation”. The knowledge of the children on different grammatical categories in their mother tongue is not taken into account. For the first time in Europe, a psycholinguistic test was developed for measuring the knowledge in Romani (comprehension and production). Categories such as wh-questions, wh-complements, passive verbs, possessiveness, tense and aspect, learning new nouns and verbs are measured with newly developed test. The knowledge of the children is connected with two theories: the ecological theory of Ogbu (1978) and the integrative theory of child development (García Coll et al. 1996). Ogbu’s theory stresses the importance of the home culture in the development of the children and the theory of García Coll and her collaborators presents the home environment and the SES of the families as an important predictor for language development and school readiness of the minority/migrant children.
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