Dr Shiva Motaghi-Tabari wins the 2017 Michael Clyne Prize

Dr Shiva Motaghi-Tabari wins the 2017 Michael Clyne Prize

Dr Shiva Motaghi-Tabari (third from left) celebrating at her graduation.

Dr Shiva Motaghi-Tabari, who graduated at the April 2017 ceremony, is the winner of this year’s Michael Clyne Prize. The Michael Clyne Prize is awarded annually by the Australian Linguistics Society for the best postgraduate research thesis in immigrant bilingualism and language contact. Shiva receives the prize for her thesis about “Bidirectional language learning in migrant families”.

This is the second time the award goes to a member of the Language on the Move research group. Donna Butorac won the 2012 Michael Clyne Prize for her thesis about “Imagined identity, remembered self: Settlement language learning and the negotiation of gendered subjectivity”. Furthermore, Vera Williams Tetteh’s thesis about “Language, education and settlement: A sociolinguistic ethnography on, with, and for Africans in Australia” was the runner-up for the 2016 award.


The process of migration to and settlement in a new country entails linguistic, cultural and identity changes and adjustments. These changes and adjustments at an individual level are related to changes and adjustments in the family. This thesis offers a qualitative exploration of such changes and adjustments in migrant families in Australia by focusing on their language learning and use processes. Adopting a multidisciplinary approach, the study draws on concepts from family studies, particularly the notion of ‘bidirectionality’, as well as sociocultural theories related to second language acquisition within the poststructuralist paradigm. The emphasis is on the ways in which language learning and use in the family relates to wider social and political contexts and language ideologies. Data for the study come from semi-structured in-depth interviews with nineteen migrant families of Persian background in Australia, including thirty-three parents and twenty-one children. Overall, the findings of the study show that language socialisation processes within the family in migration contexts are complex and intricately interwoven with parental and child language beliefs and attitudes, which in turn are influenced by language ideologies and attitudes prevalent in the wider society.

Further information

The full thesis is available for download from the Language on the Move PhD Hall of Fame. For more on the activities of the Language on the Move team, click through to the annual report.

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