This study investigates the interaction between identity preservation and linguistic integration of Eritrean immigrants in the French speaking part of Switzerland. The focus is put on Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers, who have been in Switzerland between six months to three years. This research is guided by three main research questions: a) what are their language use? b) what are their language attitudes? c) what factors play a role in language learning motivation? In terms of motivational factors special emphasis is put on political status. Data was collected via a triangulated approach with questionnaires, interviews and observational studies. A total number of 102 participants took part in the questionnaires and five French teachers were interviewed after having their classes observed. The results show that Eritrean immigrants with recent migration background predominantly use Tigrinya in most of the domains. Even though, they develop favorable and positive attitudes towards French, they believe the maintenance of Tigrinya and the Eritrean culture is important, as they find themselves in a different sociocultural space. Thus, language and cultural preservation and transmission plays an even more important role outside Eritrea. The classroom domain is the only one where French is used. The participants argue that they lack language exposure and feel that they cannot be motivated to learn French if they are not given opportunities to use it (i.e. access to labor market). This is linked to their political status, which in the current political climate does not allow them to have access to full integration opportunities.

DOI: 10.17877/DE290R-22244