Family language policy through the eyes of bilingual children: the case of French heritage speakers in the UK

Wilson, Sonia (2020). Family language policy through the eyes of bilingual children: the case of French heritage speakers in the UK. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 41(2) pp. 121–139.



According to the latest report of the (Office for National Statistics [2018]. Births by Parents’ Country of Birth, England and Wales: 2017. UK: Statistical Bulletin), 34% of children born in Britain have at least one parent from another country. With nearly 20% of children in primary schools categorised as speakers of English as an additional language, there remains much to explore in the field of heritage language (HL), also referred to as minority language. Through the concept of Family Language Policy (FLP), this paper reports on the bilingual experiences of five French-English transnational children in Britain. The study explores young heritage speakers’ perspectives on growing up bilingually and their attitudes towards parental language management. Using a combination of interviews, language portraits and observations, this paper puts forward the variety of experiences among transnational children. The possible impact of parents’ language planning decisions on children’s experiences are discussed. The findings reveal the unique character of every child’s bilingual experience and also indicate that children’s perspectives may differ greatly from their parents’, potentially leading to disharmony within the family. Finally, the study argues that a more integrative approach to FLP research, including children’s views, is essential in order to understand the ramifications of parental language planning.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 59928
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 1747-7557
  • Extra Information
  • The authors confirm that the data supporting the findings of this study are available within the article [and/or] its supplementary materials.
  • Keywords
  • bilingualism; heritage language; family language policy; transnational identity; French
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
  • Research Group
  • ?? hwpra ??
    Language & Literacies
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2019 Informa UK Limited
  • Depositing User
  • Sonia Wilson