B-MEIS Webinar: Family language policies among Quebec-based parents

When:  Dec 8, 2021 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM (ET)


Family language policies among Quebec-based parents raising multilingual infants and toddlers

In addition to the French-speaking majority, the Canadian province of Quebec is home to a sizeable English-speaking minority community along with a multitude of heritage language speakers. Many parents in Quebec raise their children multilingually. In this webinar, we introduce the Quebec context and present findings from two studies of family language policy – i.e., language beliefs, language practices, and language management – among Quebec-based parents raising infants/toddlers aged 0-4 years with multiple languages in the home. In study 1, we used interviews and focus groups to gather qualitative data from 27 parents in Quebec’s urban centre, Montreal; in study 2, we used a questionnaire (developed based on the findings from study 1) to elicit quantitative as well as qualitative data from more than 800 parents across the entire province. The discussion will shed light on some of the key factors involved in determining and upholding family language policies in multilingual families.


Ruth Kircher is a researcher at the Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning, which is part of the Fryske Akademy in Leeuwarden (Netherlands). Her research focuses on societal multilingualism, with a particular interest in language attitudes and ideologies, language practices, and language policy and planning – especially in relation to minority language communities.

Krista Byers-Heinlein is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Concordia University, where she holds the Concordia University Research Chair in Bilingualism and Open Science, and directs the Concordia Infant Research Lab. Her research focuses on language acquisition and cognitive development, with a focus on bilingual infants and toddlers.

Susan Ballinger is an Associate Professor of Second Language Education at McGill University. Her research focuses on bilingual education contexts. Specific interests include cross-linguistic and plurilingual pedagogies, content and language integration, classroom interaction, peer collaboration, and the impact of societal and classroom environments on students’ engagement, identity, and holistic achievement.

Linda Polka is a Professor and Graduate Program Director in the School of Communication Sciences & Disorders at McGill University, where she trains clinical and research students. Her research focuses on development of speech perception and production during infancy, with a special interest in infants growing up in bilingual families.

Alexa Ahooja is a Ph.D. candidate in the Language Acquisition Program at McGill University. Her research interests include the inclusion and experiences of bi/multilingual students in Québec schools. Her doctoral project will examine these students’ L2 socialization, their linguistic identity positionings, as well as official and unofficial language policies.

Melanie Brouillard is a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at Concordia University, in Montreal. Her research investigates how to best support the language development of bilinguals. Her recent work has explored how shared book reading, parental attitudes and beliefs about bilingualism, and ADHD status influence bilingual development.

Nicola Phillips is a Ph.D. student in Communication Sciences and Disorders at McGill University. She is interested in the qualitative aspects of adult-infant interactions in multilingual families. Her doctoral thesis will make use of naturalistic daylong audio recordings to examine the diversity of early bilingual language environments.

Erin Quirk received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Concordia Infant Research Laboratory. Her research investigates multilingual children’s language use and exposure in relation to their language development.


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