“I don’t want her to lose our mother tongue”: A multiple case study of the family language policies of Korean American families





bilingualism, family language policy, heritage language


In recent years, Family Language Policy (FLP) researchers have demonstrated the importance and necessity of revealing the language policies of immigrant families to investigate the language learning and maintenance processes of immigrant families and communities. This article contributes to a growing conversation of family language policies by presenting a multiple case study of three Korean American families, which conducted audio and video recorded participant observation and semi-structured interviews of family members. It examined the policies that families develop and employ in order to nurture and maintain their native language in monolingual contexts. Analyses of observations and interviews show that families developed family language policies that are resourceful and effective for language maintenance despite larger social institutions that favored monolingualism. The parents of all families pursued and maintained relationships with other Korean speakers in their extended families and church communities and created a home environment that invited and prioritized their heritage language. The article concludes with implications for immigrant families, communities, and teachers of immigrant-origin children.

Author Biography

  • Sora Suh, Fairleigh Dickinson University

    Dr. Sora Suh is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Dr. Suh teaches courses related to ESL, TESL/TEFL, and Bilingual Education. Dr. Suh’s passion for teaching ESL and Bilingual teachers was inspired by her own experiences as an ESL student in New Jersey public schools and later, her experiences as a teacher of ELs in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Dr. Suh’s experience of teaching students across age groups, from preschool to high school, informs her teaching practice. Dr. Sora Suh previously taught at Rowan University, Rutgers University, and has been awarded funding from the Edward Fry Fellowship at Rutgers University. She published in several academic journals including The Journal of Teacher Education, Bilingual Research Journal, Linguistics, and Education, Journal of Teaching and Teacher Education, English Today, as well as other academic journals. Dr. Suh holds a Ph.D. in Language Education from Rutgers University and an MSEd. in English Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. Prior to obtaining her Ph.D., she taught English Language Arts in public schools in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and TEFL classes internationally in Tanzania, China, and South Korea.
    Email: sora.is@gmail.com

Suh (2023)






Original Research

How to Cite

Suh, S. (2023). “I don’t want her to lose our mother tongue”: A multiple case study of the family language policies of Korean American families. Journal of Language Teaching, 3(10), 41-49. https://doi.org/10.54475/jlt.2023.030

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