An Ecological Approach : Investigating the Family Language Policy of Two Hmong American Families
As states like California adopt a more multilingual ideology in their public education, more heritage language education is being offered via parent advocated dual language programs to aid in heritage language maintenance. While previous research on dual language programs and family language policy have sought to investigate heritage language maintenance, there is a scarcity of research that examines how the two domains, public education and the home domain can work together to promote heritage language maintenance. Framed by King et al.’s (2008) conceptualization of family language policy, which considers language beliefs, language practices and language management, in conjunction with the Douglas Fir Group’s (2016) ecological transdisciplinary framework for second language acquisition, this multiple case study investigates two Hmong-American families’ language policy in relation to a Hmong-English dual language program, where their children are enrolled. Specifically, it explores how the families’ access to a dual language program influences their language beliefs and practices, while also considering other micro, meso, and macro level factors. Interviews, artifacts, and family recorded interactions were utilized to get a full understanding of what factors at the different levels of interaction shaped their family language policy. Beyond a sole focus on the parents, the study also explores child agency and negotiation of the family language policy. The study reveals that both sets of parents perceived the relationship between the home and school as a partnership for their children’s heritage language development, with the school taking on the onus for Hmong literacy. This resulted in both families’ more secondary role and thus home language practices to merely supplement the school content. Importantly, while both sets of parents held similar beliefs regarding the role of the dual language program in heritage language maintenance, it was their different beliefs in the value of Hmong for their children’s future in the US context that led to the different family language policies between the families. The study also reveals that beyond the school domain, the church domain can also help reinforce heritage language maintenance. Other factors, based on the parent’s own personal and professional experiences, that influenced their family language policy include: 1) their alignment or misalignment with macro ideologies about English for capital, 2) heritage language maintenance for community, 3) their state context in California, 4) heritage language maintenance for ethnic and cultural identity, and 5) their own literacy or lack thereof in the heritage language. The findings also reveal how children agentively 1) influence sibling investment in the heritage language and 2) model and facilitate heritage language learning for siblings. Congruent with previous research, the study confirms that while family language policy is concerned with home language use, it operates within a larger sociocultural context, with oftentimes overlapping domains, each with their own language beliefs (e.g., school domain, church domain, state domain). Therefore, family language policy must be analyzed through a holistic lens that considers how these domains support or shift heritage language maintenance. Crucially the findings also support previous research that heritage language maintenance requires a concerted effort between families and a variety of other domains. While the Hmong-English dual language program plays a crucial role in Hmong literacy, it is not enough to foster and maintain the heritage language, without support from other domains. The study offers important implications for families wanting to raise their children bilingually in their heritage language, and for schools interested in wanting to better serve their heritage language learners and their families.Read
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Electronic Theses & Dissertations
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- In Copyright
- Material Type
- Thesis Advisors
De Costa, Peter I.
- Program of Study
Second Language Studies - Doctor of Philosophy
- Degree Level
- Embargo End Date
May 18th, 2025
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