Immigrant Parents' Lay Theories of Children's Preschool Bilingual Development and Family Language Ideologies

Viktor Moin, Ludmila Scwartz, Mark Leikin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyzes the narratives of immigrant parents, describing their preschool children's bilingual development and their own involvement in it. The analyses found parents' lay theories (i.e., general reasoning about children's bilingual development) woven into the narratives. The parents used these theories to explain and justify their own language ideologies (aims, plans, and expectations concerning their children's bilingual development), language practices (parent-child language communication), and language management (ways of regulating the children's bilingual development). This pilot study was based on semi-structured interviews with 4 families (8 parents). The results show that the parents constructed their language theories based on self-evident truths; they reasoned as sociolinguists, focusing on external environmental and social factors, but ignored the child's personal characteristics. The parents viewed their children's Hebrew-Russian bilingualism as obligatory, rather than as an elite privilege. They believed in the tremendous power of early language acquisition and, based on this belief, constructed plans for managing their children's bilingual development, which were not always coherent or consistent with scientific data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-118
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Multilingual Research Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Russian-speaking Israeli
  • children's bilingual development
  • language ideology
  • lay theory
  • second-generation immigrants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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