Heritage language families – identity and well-being

This project focuses on families' emotional and practical needs and attitudes in relation to home language and family well-being, linked to their parenting/investment in their children’s well-being and education.


The project takes into account government priorities around well-being, social cohesion, and integration, seeking to address the research question:

How do different family members experience emotional and pragmatic attitudes towards the various family (heritage) languages, and how do these link to identity construction?

The project is seen as a first step towards empowering heritage language families to understand and discuss the links they may have between languages and identity, and, ultimately, well-being.

In previous work, Dr Sabine Little explored the potential of mapping heritage language identities across an emotional/practical and an essential/peripheral axis, helping families to understand how different members might experience the heritage language, and how differing views and attitudes can affect family well-being.

This study extends the reach of this prior research, and builds upon it by moving from individual family members to the family unit as a whole, ultimately working towards empowering families to understand and express their identity links to multiple languages, enhancing family communication, and, ultimately, family well-being.


Research publications

Little, S. (2017, Online First) 'Whose heritage? What inheritance?: Conceptualising Family Language Identities'. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, DOI: 10.1080/13670050.2017.1348463 (Gold Open Access)

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