Family language policy in refugee-background communities: Towards a model of language management and practices (2017)
Type of ContentJournal Article
As interest in the field of family language policy is burgeoning, an invitation has been issued to include more diverse families and language constellations. This article responds by presenting family language management data from Ethiopian and Colombian refugee families living in New Zealand. As part of the researcher’s ethnographic involvement in both communities, data was obtained through participant observations, interviews with parents and children, and recordings of naturally-occurring interactions between family members. Findings from both communities differ greatly: While many Ethiopian families used explicit management for their children to speak Amharic in the home, Colombian families tended to prefer laissez-faire policies as they did not direct their children’s language choice. Nevertheless, their children typically spoke Spanish, their heritage language. As a theoretical contribution, a model is developed to coherently present the caregivers' choice of language management and their children’s typical language practices. This model helps to uncover similarities and dissimilarities across families and communities. Since families typically moved through different management and practice constellations over time, the model also assists in identifying recurrent family language policy trajectories. The article concludes by drawing practical attention to the need and best timing for informing recent refugees about options and resources concerning intergenerational language transmission.
Keywordsfamily language policy; language management; refugees; Spanish; Amharic
RightsCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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