Family Language Alive - Children Learning Chinese


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The articles on this website have originally grown from an independent study completed at Bank Street College of Education and the research is still ongoing. The theories and practical advice are grounded upon solid educational research. It is originally written for those who have questions or may wonder about passing on their home language, Chinese, to their children in the United States. However, the information presented may also be beneficial to those who are interested in learning about the maintenance of a home (heritage) language that is a minor language in the dominant society.


The following list contains the resources used to develop the information on this site. They may help further your knowledge in raising your child toward bilingualism and biliteracy. Please contact us for questions and to report any broken links.



Raising Bilingual-Biliterate Children in Monolingual Cultures by Stephen J. Caldas

The Bilingual Family: A Handbook for Parents by Edith Harding and Philip Riley

Bilingual Children: Guidance for the Family by George Saunders

Dual Language: Teaching and Learning in Two Languages by Sonia White Soltero

Raising Multilingual Children: Foreign Language Acquisition and Children by Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa

Noa’s ark: One child’s voyage into multiliteracy by David Schwarzer

Dual language education by Kathryn J. Lindholm-Leary



Alba, R., Logan, J., Lutz, A., & Stults, B. (2002). Only English by the third generation? Loss and preservation of the mother tongue among the grandchildren of contemporary immigrants. Demography, 39(3), 467-484. doi:10.1353/dem.2002.0023


Asia New Zealand Foundation. (2011). Rotorua schools embrace Chinese language and culture.


Asia New Zealand Foundation. (n.d.). Educating for Asia programme.


Asia Society. (2008). Expand world language programs.


British Council. (2009.) Establishing connections: PMI2 connect guidelines.


Bialystok, E. (2011). Reshaping the mind: The benefits of bilingualism. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65(4): 229–235. doi:10.1037/a0025406.


Brown, C. L. (2011). Maintaining heritage language: Perspectives of Korean parents. Multicultural Education, 19(1): 31–37.


Chung, Y. Y. & Zhang, C. (2005). Exploratory model on advising bilingual parenting among Chinese immigrants. Proceedings of the CATESOL State Conference.


Clark, B. A. (2000). First- and second-language acquisition in early childhood. In D. Rothenberg (Ed.), Issues in Early Childhood Education: Curriculum, Teacher Education, & Dissemination of Information (pp. 181-188). Proceedings of the Lilian Katz Symposium. Champaign, IL.


Cole, D. (2008). Speaking the global language. U.S. News & World Report, 144(10), 56, 58.


DeJesus, S. (2008). An astounding treasure: Dual language education in a public school setting. Centro Journal, 20(2), 192-217.


Ding, H., & Boody, R. M. (2001). The other side of learning English as a second language: Why isn’t my child learning Chinese. Education, 122(1), 39-44.


Fillmore, L. W. (2000). Loss of family languages: Should educators be concerned? Theory Into Practice, 39(4), 203-210. doi:10.1207/s15430421tip3904_3.


Fishman, J. (1996). What do you lose when you lose your language? In G. Cantoni (Ed.), Stabilizing Indigenous Languages (pp. 80-91). Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University.,center_for_excellence_in_education,_2007.pdf


Gao, F. (2010). Bilingual education among ethnic Koreans in China ethnic language maintenance and upward social mobility. Chinese Education and Society, 43(1): 82–92. doi:10.2753/CED1061-1932430107.


Guardado, M. (2002). Loss and maintenance of first language skills: Case studies of Hispanic families in Vancouver. Canadian Modern Language Review, 58(3), 341-363. doi:10.3138/cmlr.58.3.341.


Hakuta, K. (1985). Cognitive development in bilingual instruction. In R. Eshch & J. Provinzano (Eds.), Issues in English language development (pp. 63-67). Rosslyn, VA.: National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education.


Hart, P. K. (2006). Why Juan can’t read. Texas Monthly, 34(10), 104-112.


Ho, N. (n.d.). The Hope of Chinese Amateur Learning in Northern America.


Kempert, S., Saalbach, H., & Hardy, I. (2011). Cognitive benefits and costs of bilingualism in elementary school students: The case of mathematical word problems. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(3), 547–561. doi:10.1037/a0023619.


Kenner, C. (2004). Early biliteracy: Worlds of possibility. NALDIC News, 27, 6-8.


Kibler, A. K., Palacios, N., & Baird, A. S. (2014). The influence of older siblings on language use among second-generation Latino preschoolers. TESOL Quarterly 48(1), 164-175. doi:10.1002/tesq.151.


Kuo, M. A., & Hooper, S. (2004). The effects of visual and verbal coding mnemonics on learning Chinese characters in computer-based instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 52(3), 23-38. doi:10.1007/BF02504673.


Lai, Y. C. (2009). Language maintenance and language loss in first language. US-China Foreign Language, 7(7), 10-16.


Lao, C. (2004). Parents’ attitudes toward Chinese-English bilingual education and Chinese-language use. Bilingual Research Journal, 28(1), 99–121. doi:10.1080/15235882.2004.10162614.


Law, S. (2015). Children learning Chinese as a home language in an English-dominant society. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 18(6), 735-748. doi:10.1080/13670050.2014.946399.


Lee, R. (2013, April). Children of immigrants’ assimilation pathways: Examining community, neighborhood, group and individual effects on educational attainment. Paper presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the Population Association of America, New Orleans, LA.


Lewin, T. (2003, December 6). College placement program expands language offerings. The New York Times.


Liu, N. (2010). Chinese heritage language schools in the United States.


Louie, V. (2001). Parents’ aspirations and investment: The role of social class in the educational experiences of 1.5- and second-generation Chinese Americans. Harvard Educational Review, 71(3), 438-74.


Martin-Beltrán, M. (2009). Cultivating space for the language boomerang: The interplay of two languages as academic resources. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 8(2), 25-53.


Masgoret, A. M., & Gardner, R. C. (2003). Attitudes, motivation, and second language learning: A meta-analysis of studies conducted Gardner and Associates. Language Learning, 53(1), 123-163. doi:10.1111/1467-9922.00212


Maxwell, L. A. (2012, March 28). ‘Dual’ classes see growth in popularity. Education Week, 31(26), pp. 1, 16-17.


McBride-Chang, C., Chow, B. W. Y., Zhong, Y., Burgess, S., & Hayward, W. G. (2005). Chinese character acquisition and visual skills in two Chinese scripts. Reading and Writing, 18(2), 99-128. doi:10.1007/s11145-004-7343-5.


Nuo, Y. (2007, April 9). Learning Chinese not so hard. China Daily.


Ro, Y. E., & Cheatman, G. A. (2009). Biliteracy and bilingual development in a second-generation Korean child: A case study. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 23(3), 290-308. doi:10.1080/02568540909594662.


Rumbaut, R. G. (2007). The evolution of language competencies, preferences and use among immigrants and their children in the United States today: Hearing before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law of the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives.


Rumbaut, R. G. (2009). A language graveyard? The evolution of language competencies, preferences and use among young adult children of immigrants (2009). In T. G. Wiley, J. S. Lee, & R. Rumberger (Eds.), The education of language minority immigrants in the United States, (pp. 35-71). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.


Sacchetti, M. (2007, July 22). Immigrant parents struggle to keep their children bilingual. Boston Globe, p. A1.


Scanlan, M. (2011). How school leaders can accent inclusion for bilingual students, families, and communities. Multicultural Education, 18(2), 5-9.


Schwartz, M. (2008). Exploring the relationship between family language policy and heritage language knowledge among second generation Russian-Jewish immigrants in Israel. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 29(5), 400-418. doi:10.1080/01434630802147916.


Shin, H. B. (2011). Language projections: 2010 to 2020. Presented at the Federal Forecasters Conference. Washington, DC, Apr. 21, 2011 at p. 1.


Soderman, A. K. (2010). Language immersion programs for young children? Yes…but proceed with caution. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(8), 54-61.


Spielman, J. (2001). The family photography project: “We will just read what the pictures tell us.” Reading Teacher, 54(8), 762-770.


Stevens, M. (2011, December 29). Mandarin immersion program flourishes at L.A. school. Los Angeles Times.

Tare, M., & Gelman, S. A. (2010). Can you say it another way? Cognitive factors in bilingual children’s pragmatic language skills. Journal of Cognition and Development, 11(2), 137-158. doi:10.1080/15248371003699951.


Todd, L. (2013, October 28). Chinese and English: Dual language program grows in Casper. Casper Star-Tribune.


Vaccarino, F., & Walker, U. (2008). Fostering multiple literacies in a linguistically diverse Aotearoa New Zealand: A family biliteracy perspective. The International Journal of Learning, 15(11), 89-96.


Wang, Y. (2009). Language, parents’ involvement, and social justice: The fight for maintaining minority home language: A Chinese-language case study. Multicultural Education, 16(4), 13-18.


White, M. (2012, January 29). Language immersion classrooms: Programs are popular, diligence translates to performance. Deseret News.


Winkler, L. (2005, July 7). Teaching method holds the key in Chinese learning. China Daily.


Wu, C. H. (2005). Attitude and behavior toward bilingualism for Chinese parents and children. In J. Cohen, K. T. McAlister, K. Rolstad, & J. MacSwan (Eds.), Proceedings of the 4th international symposium on bilingualism (pp. 2385-2394). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.

Xinhua News. 2006. China, US announce new Chinese language, cultural initiative.


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