'Spanish at Home, English at School’: How Perceptions of Bilingualism Shape Family Language Policies Among Spanish-Speaking Parents of Preschoolers
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CitationSurrain, Sarah. 2018. ‘Spanish at Home, English at School’: How Perceptions of Bilingualism Shape Family Language Policies among Spanish-speaking Parents of Preschoolers. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism: 1-15.
AbstractIn the United States nearly one third of children under five live in homes where a non-English language is spoken. However, many of these language-minority (LM) children shift towards English monolingualism after beginning school in early childhood. While language input and usage are central to acquisition and maintenance in each language, less is known about parents’ perceptions of bilingualism and how perceptions inform parents’ actions to support their child’s bilingual development in early childhood. By applying a family language policy framework to data from 14 in-depth qualitative interviews, this study explores the beliefs and practices of Spanish-speaking mothers of preschoolers in a small northeastern US city. Thematic analyses revealed that mothers viewed Spanish maintenance alongside English acquisition as essential for economic opportunity and family communication, yet differed in their perceptions of how bilingualism was best supported. Some implemented a Spanish-only-at-home policy, delegating their child’s English development to the school setting. Others avoided setting rigid boundaries, instead employing various discourse strategies to motivate their child’s active Spanish use at home and seeking out school-based supports. Social pressures on the child, incomplete knowledge of local bilingual programs, and the current political climate countered mothers’ efforts to support their child’s emergent bilingualism.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:40898638
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