Translanguaging in Family Communication

Hungarian American Parents’ Perspectives




Hungarian-American parents, translanguaging, adolescents, family language policy, multilingualism, bilingualism


This paper reports on a phenomenological study that examined Hungarian American parents’ perceptions and practices related to translanguaging—a systematic scaffolding strategy that utilizes multiple linguistic repertoires to facilitate competence and performance in two or more language—in family communication. We used semistructured interviews with questions related to language use, parents’ reactions to translanguaging, and their perceptions of why and how translanguaging occurs in oral and written family communications. The participants included twelve Hungarian American families with adolescent children who used the Hungarian language in family communication. The findings indicated that most families found translanguaging natural and positive, and these families used supportive and constructive behaviors when translanguaging happened. A few parents rejected the practice of translanguaging when the communication took place in Hungarian, which indicated monoglossic language ideologies. These divergent views of family language policy were often explained by the familial, social, and cultural contexts of the families. Because parents are the main stakeholders in language maintenance, their perspectives and practices are essential. This paper contributes to our understanding of family language policies regarding translanguaging and offer recommendations for a minority language community, the Hungarian American immigrant community, for which translanguaging is not well researched. 

Author Biographies

Janka Szilágyi, SUNY Brockport

Janka Szilágyi, PhD, is professor of childhood mathematics education at the State University of New York Brockport. Her areas of specialty are mathematics teaching and learning, bilingualism, and world language teaching and learning, and her research interests include developmental progressions in the learning of mathematical concepts, elementary and middle level mathematics teachers’ understanding of inquiry, and heritage language maintenance. 

Tünde Szécsi, Florida Gulf Coast University

Tünde Szécsi, PhD, is a professor of early childhood education, and program coordinator for elementary education at Florida Gulf Coast University. Her areas of specialty are multicultural teacher preparation, bilingualism, teaching English as a second language, and humane education. Her research interests include culturally responsive education, heritage language maintenance, and undergraduate research pedagogy.


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