Document Type





Spanish, Latinos, Bilingualism, Children, Families




Chicana/o Studies | Ethnic Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Sociology


Based on in-depth interviews and fieldwork in and around Dallas, Texas, this paper explores the ways in which Latino parents and their children negotiate home language and offers a theoretical framework for understanding language maintenance and loss in the home. The parents in this study overwhelmingly view bilingualism as the ideal, yet many parents, especially those who are English-dominant or bilingual, find it difficult to maintain Spanish at home because of outside pressures that prioritize English and concerns about their children's English-language acquisition. The family, as the environment in which children first begin to learn language, and family dynamics regarding language are important aspects of the linguistic proficiencies of Latino children. Alba et al. (2002) argue that home language is "decisive for maintaining the mother tongue," yet little sociological research has investigated how parents and children think about and negotiate the language of home (469). Much of the previous research focuses on the ways in which different social, demographic, and individual characteristics are associated with differential language proficiencies among parents and children. However, this study explores how elements of the parents' and children's linguistic context at the micro level within the family relate to the processes of Spanish maintenance and loss.