Parental ethnotheories and family language policy in transnational adoptive families


Family language policy refers to explicit and overt decisions parents make about language use and language learning as well as implicit processes that legitimize certain language and literacy practices over others in the home. Studies in family language policy have emphasized the ways in which family-internal processes are shaped by and shape societal level realities. By examining the interview discourse of 11 transnational adoptive parents about their language and education decisions for older, native Russian-speaking adoptees, this article shows how parents draw on categorizations and descriptions of their children to explain their language and education policies. The parental ethnotheories embedded in these categorizations represent a mediating link between societal level discourses on adoptive parenting and adoptees and parents' individual language planning decisions. The data from transnational adoptive parents presented here indicate that, although adoptive parents' language policy decisions were reflective of larger discourse processes in society such as monolingual normativity, parents themselves saw their FLP decisions in relation to their children's particular cognitive and emotional capacities, educational needs, and desire to form a family bond. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Publication Title

Language Policy