The Role of Age Variables in Family Language Policy

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Family language policy (FLP) provides a critical framework to explain the planning of language use in the home. It constitutes a dynamic construct that sheds light on variations in the language acquisition of bilingual children, potentially explaining the shifts that may occur in language dominance and preference. The environment and life experiences are thought to shape FLP, yet little is known about the function of age. This study examines the association of FLP with children’s chronological age and the age they become bilingual. Data were collected via questionnaires from parents and their bilingual children (n = 82) aged 5.08–14.08 (M = 8.98, SD = 3.27) speaking English (heritage language) and Hebrew (societal language). Correlations and logistic regressions indicate a relationship between FLP and dimensions of age. Findings reveal that age may have repercussions for parent language beliefs, patterns of language use within the home, and the adoption of language promotion strategies. Younger children and children with a later age of onset of bilingualism are associated with families who lean towards a pro-heritage language FLP. Considering dimensions of age enhances our understanding of FLP and may offer a greater insight into how languages are supported in the bilingual home.

Original languageEnglish
Article number139
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024

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  • age of onset of bilingualism
  • bilingualism
  • children
  • chronological age
  • family language policy
  • heritage language


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