Invisible Work

Bilingualism, language choice and childrearing in intermarried families

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There is growing recognition that ‘context’ is important for bilingual language development, but understanding of that context remains underdeveloped. This innovative study, spanning the fields of bilingualism, ethnicity and family studies, shows how language use in intermarried families is deeply intertwined with the experience of everyday childrearing, in specific socio-historical contexts. This is why, despite good intentions, expert advice and effort, bilingual-child rearing often encounters difficulties. Conversely, drawing on in-depth interviews of twenty eight Japanese mother — British father families in the UK, the study uses a focus on language issues to portray actual childrearing dynamics and ‘situated ethnicity’ in intermarried families. Presenting a vivid picture of the ‘invisible work’ of mothers in these families, and how they attempt to resolve conflicting pressures and demands over childrearing, language and education, the author shows the importance of ‘recognition’ and shared responsibility. This book will interest researchers, practitioners and parents interested in bilingualism, ethnically diverse families and multicultural education.

Subjects: Bilingualism; Japanese linguistics; Sociolinguistics and Dialectology; English linguistics; Germanic linguistics

  • Affiliations: 1: University of Cambridge

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