A new MPC Policy Brief: "What does language transmission within mixed families tell us about integration and multilingualism in the EU?" by Anne Unterreiner (Migration Policy Centre, RSCAS, EUI)

There is a gap between EU multilingual policies and language policies for migrants. In this context, migration is not seen as an asset. Rather it is a problem to be solved through assimilation. Migrants’ multilingualism is, likewise, not considered an asset for society as a whole. In this context, research into the transmission of multiple languages within families is relevant for better understanding the processes under examination.

 “Nationally mixed people,” that is to say people with parents born in two different countries, one country usually being the country of residence, have sufficient knowledge of the language of the country of residence. We think of people in plural language systems as having language issues. However, mixed families should be regarded as a social group allowing for the transmission of at least two languages. Are all mixed people bi- or multilingual? The explanatory factors of language transmission in mixed families, and especially the role of public policies and institutions on family language transmission have been under researched. However, a recent study has shown that since public policies and discourses affect both the migration and integration paths of the parents, they also indirectly influence the foreign language proficiencies of nationally mixed people.