Family Language Policy from the Children’s Point of View: Bilingualism in Place and Time
Studies in family language policy (FLP) point to the important role children play in negotiating and shaping parents’ language ideologies and practices. This chapter focuses on how adult children perceive themselves as agents in shaping FLP and how they represent their own processes of becoming bilingual with an emphasis on experiences children had outside of the home that shaped their bilingual identities.
The study examines data from interviews with five young adults (ages 18–26) who identified as bilingual and had attended at least 1 year of grade school in the Southern United States. The analysis focuses on the linguistic construction of agency as well as self and other identities that function to explain family language policy processes in the context of the individual’s telling of life experiences (e.g., moving, starting school, etc.).
Racial, ethnic and linguistic identities and ideologies are intertwined for young bilinguals in the South and discussions of place contextualize bilinguals’ depictions of their language competence. In this study participants suggested that passive bilingualism is not solely the result of poorly planned policies or the use of less effective strategies on the parents’ part, but rather the result of constraints placed on children for displaying and claiming a bilingual identity and thus potentially a result of the ideologies of bilingualism in place.
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