Family language policy and Bilingual Russian-Norwegian children’s Language acquisition in Norway


Publication date



Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences

Document type


Master i flerkulturell og internasjonal utdanning


This study investigated the phenomenon of transmission languages to the four children in four full families with Russian immigrant background, both intermarried and nonintermarried families. The present study also aims at investigating the effect of language strategies within the family microsystem, Family language policy, on child language development. The goals of the study are twofold: to explore Family language policy and attitudes to the bilingual Russian-Norwegian children’s minority language; to investigate children’s oral language proficiency in both minority and majority languages. In this study considered the Family language policy inside family, i.e., home language environment and the one outside, where one can distinguish activities outside the family. The study’s overarching research question is: How the parental Family language policy impacts on bilingual children’s oral language development. These research objectives serve to address this question: 1) To investigate what languages are used inside and outside the family in the parents conversation with the child and among the parents; 2) To study strategies that one or both parents use to motivate/demotivate the child’s active use of the bilingual children’s minority language; 3) To examine the effect of parental Family language policy and attitudes on bilingual children’s oral language development by studying Russian-Norwegian children; The grounded theory method was chosen as a research tool in the current investigation, while semi-structured interviews were employed for data collection and The Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives (MAIN) as an assessment instrument for assess the children’s oral language proficiency. More specifically I investigated the effect of parental input in two groups of bilingual children, those who live in Norway with two Russian-speaking parents and those who grow up in families with one Russian- and one Norwegian-speaking parent. Seven categories emerged during the data analysis: - The reason for the parents’ choice regarding the transmission of Russian language to the child - The parents’ language use in communication to each other and/or with other adults in the presence of the child - The parents’ language use in communication with the child. The child’s language use in communication with the parents and siblings. - Measures taken by parents to prevent children's language shift - The parents’ strategies for providing the child with additional input in Russian language inside the family and outside the family. - The children’s bilingual language development according to the parents opinion - The parents’ beliefs about bilingual development in general During the analysis the reason of parents’ choice regarding the transmission of Russian language to the children fifteen parental aspirations for the minority Russian language transmission were formed. The motivation is a decisive in parental language choice. Theses motives were in turn influenced by intrapersonal, family, situational and socio-historical factors Throughout the research process I have identified a close link connecting the parental underestimation of the role of minority language input, children’s involvement in language activities inside and outside family and the bilingual children oral language proficiency. I have identified different indicators of children language proficiency, which are presented in chapter 4 in this thesis, i.e. Mean length of communicative units (MLCU); Internal State Terms (IST), G (Goal), AO (Attempt + Outcome), (Goal + Attempt)/ GO (Goal + Outcome), GAO (Goal + Attempt + Outcome) Analyses of the data revealed certain consequences of different children’s language use patterns.




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