Family Language Policy

Enriching the field and expanding the scope


  • Xiao Lan Curdt-Christiansen University of Bath Author



Family Language Policy, immigration, parental agency, language maintenance, methodology in FLP


This commentary outlines the key contributions of the issue. Addressing various language attitudes and ideologies held by family members, the commentary highlights the major themes of the collected articles, addressing important issues in the maintenance of home languages and development of minoritised languages as well as interactions between families and the wider society. In particular, it looks into why heritage and minoritised languages are difficult to maintain and develop in multilingual contexts. The commentary emphasises how families constantly interact with broader sociocultural, sociohistorical, and sociopolitical contexts and outlines the agentive role of family members in accommodating or resisting language change. It highlights the key topics, theoretical contributions, and methodological issues in this issue.

Author Biography

  • Xiao Lan Curdt-Christiansen, University of Bath

    Xiao Lan Curdt-Christiansen is Professor of Applied Linguistics in Education at the Department of Education at the University of Bath, United Kingdom. Her research interests encompass ideological, sociocultural-cognitive, and policy perspectives on language learning with particular focus on children’s multilingual education and biliteracy development.


Curdt-Christiansen, X.L. (2009) Visible and invisible language planning: Ideological factors in the family language policy of Chinese immigrant families in Quebec. Language Policy 8: 351–375. Doi:

Curdt-Christiansen, X.L. (2013) Family language policy: Sociopolitical reality versus linguistic continuity. Language Policy 12(1): 1–6. Doi:

Curdt-Christiansen, X.L. (2016) Conflicting language ideologies and contradictory language practices in Singaporean bilingual families. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 37(7): 694–709. Doi:

Curdt-Christiansen, X.L. (2018) Family language policy. In J. Tollefson and M. Perez-Milans (eds) The Oxford handbook of language policy and planning 420–441. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Curdt-Christiansen, X.L. and LaMorgia, F. (2018) Managing heritage language development: Opportunities and challenges for Chinese, Italian and Urdu speaking families in the UK. Multilingua: Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication 37(2): 177–210. Doi:

Curdt-Christiansen, X.L and Wang, W. (2018) Parents as agents of multilingual education: Family language planning in China. Language, Culture and Curriculum 31(3): 235–254. Doi:

Curdt-Christiansen, X.L. and Iwaniec, J. (2023) ‘I miss you’: Emotional multilingual practices in transnational families. International Journal of Bilingualism 27(2): 159–180. Doi:

King, K.A., Fogle, L., and Logan-Terry, A. (2008) Family language policy. Language and Linguistics Compass 2(5): 907–922. Doi:

Lanza, E. (2007) Multilingualism in the family. In P. Auer and Li Wei (eds) Handbook of multilingualism and multilingual communication 45–67. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Mirvahedi, H. (2021) What can interactional sociolinguistics bring to the family language policy research table? The case of a Malay family in Singapore. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 45(2): 257–272. Doi:

Palviainen, Å. and Bergroth, M. (2018) Parental discourses of language ideology and linguistic identity in multilingual Finland. International Journal of Multilingualism 15(3): 262–275. Doi:

Palviainen, Å. and Kedra, J. (2020) What’s in the family app? Making sense of digitally mediated communication within multilingual families. Journal of Multilingual Theories and Practices 1(1): 89–111. Doi:

Ruiz, R. (1984) Orientations in language planning. NABE Journal 8(2): 15–34. Doi:

Sevinç, Y. and Mirvahedi, S.H. (2023) Emotions and multilingualism in family language policy: Introduction to the special issue. International Journal of Bilingualism 27(2): 145–158. Doi:

Spolsky, B. (2004) Language policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Spolsky, B. (2012) Family language policy: The critical domain. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 33(1): 3–11. Doi:

Tannenbaum, M. (2012) Family language policy as a form of coping or defense mechanism. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 33(1): 57–66. Doi:

Tannenbaum, M. (2015) The heartache of two homelands: Ideological and emotional perspectives on Hebrew transnational writing. L2 Journal 7(1): 30–48. Doi:

Wang, W. and Curdt-Christiansen, X.L. (2021) Lost in translation: Parents as medium translators in intergenerational transmission. Current Issues in Language Planning 22(4): 362–382. Doi:

Wright, L. and Higgins, C. (eds) (2022) Diversifying family language policy. London, New York and Dublin: Bloomsbury Academic.

Zhu Hua and Li Wei (2016) Transnational experience, aspiration and family language policy. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 37(7): 655–666. Doi:



How to Cite

Curdt-Christiansen, X. L. (2024). Family Language Policy: Enriching the field and expanding the scope. Sociolinguistic Studies, 18(1-2), 223-228.