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MultiFam: Family language policy in multilingual transcultural families

Family language policy involves implicit and explicit planning as well as practices in relation to language use and literacy within home domains and among family members.

Photo: Colourbox

About the project

Contemporary socio-political and cultural contexts have led to intensified mobility and an increasing number of multilingual transcultural families. MultiFam's main goal is to generate knowledge on the factors involved in multilingual transcultural family members' decisions and practices concerning language use and literacy in the home. The following research questions are in focus:

  1. What language(s) do caregivers choose to transfer to the next generation: why and how?
  2. What language(s) do children speak with siblings and older generations: why and how?
  3. What literacy skills and practices characterize different family members in relation to the languages they were socialized in and through? The purpose of this focus is to examine the factors that contribute to the transfer—or not—of minority languages across generations, and the factors that lead to a possible language shift.

MultiFam builds on state-of-the-art research on language socialization and language ideology. Language socialization includes socializing into language to enable appropriate use of linguistic structures, and through language to become effective social actors and community members.

Language ideology investigates how ways of using languages reflect and (re)produce socio-cultural values, and the beliefs and assumptions people have about language and language users. Family language policy can thus be defined as conscious and unconscious planning of language use and literacy practices within home domains and among family members. Various types of data will be collected including a large-scale questionnaire survey, focus group interviews, and conversations in the home among various family members. The body of new knowledge on family language policy evolving from this project will have the potential to contribute to policy and practice in local society, and to a better understanding of what it means to be a contemporary citizen in a society with increasing linguistic and cultural diversity.

Full project description. (PDF)

Sub-projects

Duration

3 years

Funding

Funding as an Independent Project (FRIPRO), The Research Council of Norway, 2015–2018.

From MultiLing: Elizabeth Lanza (project leader), Anne Golden, Bente Ailin Svendsen

Collaboration

Li Wei, University College London; Annick De Houwer, Erfurt University; Lars Kulbrandstad, Høgskolen i Hedmark; Language Council of Norway; FAFO

Some publications on language socialization and family language policy in multilingual families

2017. Kendall King & Elizabeth Lanza (eds.). Special issue Ideology, agency, and imagination in multilingual families. OnlineFirst. International Journal of Bilingualism.

2017. Judith Purkarthofer. Buidling expectations: Imagining family language policy and heteroglossic social spaces. In Special issue Ideology, agency, and imagination in multilingual families. OnlineFirst. International Journal of Bilingualism.

2016. Elizabeth Lanza & Li Wei (eds.). Special issue Multilingual encounters in transcultural families. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development.

2007. Elizabeth Lanza & Bente Ailin Svendsen. Tell me who your friends are and I might be able to tell you what language(s) you speak: Social network analysis and multilingualism. International Journal of Bilingualism, Volume 11( 3): 275-300.

2007. Elizabeth Lanza. Multilingualism and the family. In Li Wei & P. Auer (eds.), Handbook of Multilingualism and Multilingual Communication. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

2004. Elizabeth Lanza. Paperback edition with new Afterword  Language Mixing in Infant Bilingualism: A Sociolinguistic Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2004. Elizabeth Lanza. Language socialization of infant bilingual children in the family: Quo vadis? In X. Rodríguez-Yáñez, A. Suárez & F. Ramallo (red.), Bilingualism and Education from the Family to the School. Munich: Lincom Europa, 21 - 39.

Tags: Multilingual language practices, Management of multilingualism, Multilingual competence
Published Dec. 8, 2013 10:42 PM - Last modified May 4, 2017 4:50 PM

Contact

Elizabeth Lanza

(+47) 22856751