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The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, 2nd Edition by William C. Ritchie, Tej K. Bhatia

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22 

Multilingualism and Family Welfare

XIAO-LEI WANG

Introduction

Parents who are from different language backgrounds often hope that their children will be able to speak their heritage language1 (e.g., Takeuchi 2006; Wang 2008). With the rising political and cultural consciousness about promoting and maintaining heritage language in global communities and with a growing body of research literature, as well as parenting advice books and magazines, reporting the benefits of being multilingual,2 more and more parents now view multilingualism as a laudable goal and strive to provide their children with opportunities to develop more than one language (e.g., King and Fogle 2006; Peyton, Ranard, and McGinnis 2001; Wang 2008 and 2011; see also Montrul, chapter 7, this volume). As a result, the number of multilingual families is on the rise, even in many of the ‘officially monolingual’ countries. For example, the recent American Community Survey reports that approximately 20% of U.S. population age five and over speak a language other than English at home.3

There are undoubtedly many advantages and excitements associated with raising multilingual children, and there are also many challenges related to it. Multilingual families typically reside in a place other than the parents’ country/community of origin. They must construct their own unique identities and make their own unique family childrearing and language decisions in addition to coping with many other intricacies associated with ...

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