This ethnographic study investigates the daily language practices in five Chinese middle class focal families and illuminates the parents’ beliefs about their mother language, English, and language learning in the globalizing post-industrial era. Building on a growing body of research on family language policy (FLP), the study asks an overarching question: What does FLP look like in these middle class families? Specifically, the dissertation seeks to answer these questions: 1) what do the children’s daily language practices look like? 2) How do the parents manage their children’s daily language practices? 3) What ideologies and beliefs about their mother language, English, and language learning do parents hold? In addition, the study explores why FLP matters in the larger contexts of the Chinese Open-up reform policy and processes of globalization. How do intimate language-mediated interactions within the home reflect and refract these larger sociopolitical, sociolinguistic, and economic processes? How might this study of FLP bridge the familial, the national, and the global, connecting family language practices, beliefs, and management strategies to national language policies and processes of globalization?
Findings show that children’s daily language practices incorporate four different types of Mandarin- and English-mediated activities which include daily routines, purposefully planned activities and naturally occurring activities. During the process of language management, parents and children negotiate in dynamic power relations whereby parents exert control and authority, and children display agency, resistance, and autonomy. Parents perceive languages as cultural practices, aesthetic entities, and utilitarian instruments. Findings also suggest that national political policies affect parents’ perceptions of education, language, and language learning, as well as parents’ language policymaking in the home. Larger sociocultural, political, and historical factors have great impact on parents’ ideologies about the construction of multiple language identities in the globalization trend. This study therefore fills a void in the educational linguistics scholarship by connecting the intimate familial domain of language policy with larger informal and formal language policies that privilege English and Mandarin. These language choices within the home among family members greatly influence children’s language acquisition and socialization, as well as their multiple language identity construction in the post-industrial era.