Chapter 2. Family language policy

Is learning Chinese at odds with learning English?

image of Chapter 2. Family language policy

This inquiry examines how family languages policies (FLP) are planned and developed in twenty bilingual families in Singapore with regard to their children&#8217;s Chinese language and literacy development. The study focuses on how parents perceive Chinese and how their beliefs are transformed into active language practices. Data sources include <i>de facto</i> language practices in home domains, parents&#8217; language ideologies, and literacy activities and private tuition used as their language management. The findings reveal that all parents hold an unambiguous belief in the benefits of developing Chinese language, both in terms of cultural identity and in terms of providing overt socioeconomic opportunities. The study shows that FLPs are constantly interacting with and shaped by nonlinguistic forces &#8211; the national language policy and the educational system. When facing the sociopolitical and educational realities in Singapore, these parents are coerced to place Chinese and English into a dichotomous position resulting in lower expectations for their children&#8217;s Chinese proficiency and less sufficient provision of Chinese literacy resources.

  • Affiliations: 1: University of Reading
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