From family language practices to family language policies Children as socializing agents

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: combining approaches to family language policy with a language socialization approach, the present thesis examines family interoctions in five bi/multilingual lronian families in Sweden. The foci of the thesis have emerged from viewing and analyzing video-recordings of the families' everyday interactions, interviews and observations conducted during two phases of fieldwork. The thesis explores family - parents' and children's - language practices and the ways they contribute to the construction, negotiation and instantiation of family language policies. Considering children's active role in family interactions, it explores parents' heritage language maintenance practices and children's responses to these practices. In addition, the thesis examinas siblings' contribution to familial language choices and practices.The thesis documents parental strategies aimed at heritage language maintenance and children's bi/multilingual development. Recurrent interactional practices - through which parents attempted to enforce a monolingual, heritage language, context for parent-child interactions - were explored (Study Il. Through such exchanges the parents positioned themselves as "experts", insisting on the child's compliance, whereas the child's (affectively aggravated) resistance was frequent, and the parents recurrently accommodated the child's language choices by terminating language instruction. Such language maintenance strategies at times resulted in explicit and implicit language negotiations, and the child's growing resistance cantributed to changes in parents' language practices over time (Study Il). Siblings' contribution to shaping the language practices and language environment of immigrant families was explored in Study 111. It shows that siblings corrected each other's language use and choices and provided language instruction (in Swedish, English and heritage languages) when language-related problems occurred. By predominantly using swedish, siblings contributed to language shift. The thesis shows how family members' language practices contribute to heritage language maintenance or language shift and to shaping family language policies.