Family Language Policy: Kazakhstani Case

Family language policy (FLP) is a newly emerged concept and King at al. (2008) state that FLP “provides an integrated overview of research on how languages are managed, learned and negotiated within families” (King at al., 20087, p. 907).

Unfortunately, no case studies have been done to research this kind of situation in Kazakhstan. But as a member of a big purely Kazakh origin family, I can say about my own experience. Three languages are spoken by different generation in my family. The older generation, my parents spoke Russian when they were young, later, they changed their attitudes towards the languages and shifted to Kazakh. First reason was when they reached 50 years old, and acknowledged the importance of the mother tongue, and the second reason was when their children (my older siblings used only Russian because they went to Russian kindergartens and schools as there were no Kazakh educational establishments in the village) started to speak Russian more than Kazakh at home. So they decided to send me and my younger sisters to Kazakh kindergarten and school. So, the second generation (my siblings and me) are fluent in both Russian and Kazakh languages. The third generation (grandchildren of my parents) are trilingual; they speak Kazakh and Russian in their own families, and they are acquiring the third language; trilingual policy is embedded in their schools and kindergartens. When the whole family units or their children and grandchildren come to visit my parents, they all try to speak Kazakh because my parents are strict when it comes to the use of language and demand from all of them to speak only Kazakh. The second generation also does good attempts concerning the Kazakh acquisition; using “One Language-One Parent (OPOL)” strategy at home (Braun & Cline, 2014). One of my sisters speaks in Russian to her children and her husband speaks Kazakh to them; they do it unconsciously, because my sister cannot speak Kazakh very well and she prefers Russian and as for my brother-in-law, he just simply does not know Russian very well, that is why he speaks only Kazakh with the children. Children differently respond to both of the parents, mostly in that language that they were addressed to.

This is the only one case, but I am sure there are many cases in Kazakhstan; people simply do not publicise it and maybe they even do not know about the existence of the policy. FLP should be accepted as any language law because the government states to augment the use and status of the Kazakh language. Stakeholders, policy-makers, and researchers must fill this gap and develop not only LP but FLP as well. Adopting some other countries` FLP is not an option because it should be designed according to the Kazakhstani unique experience.


Braun, A. & Cline, T. (2014). Language Strategies for Trilingual Families: Parents` Perspective. Great Britain, UK: CPI Group Ltd, Croydon.

King, A.K., Fogle, L., & Logan-Terry, A. (2008). Family language policy. Journal Compilation. Language and Linguistics Compass 2/5. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Smagulova, Zh. (2008). Reforma shkolnogo obrazovaniya: bolshaya peremena [School education reform: big break]. Analytical group “CIPD”. Retrieved from

4 thoughts on “Family Language Policy: Kazakhstani Case

  1. Hi! I have read your post and let me project my views on your piece of writing.
    The topic Family Language Policy seems good food for thought with your post. Although you give explanation of FLP in the beginning , it is not enough for readers to understand it prorperly. Here we need your own explanation of the concept.
    The main body is informative as long as you give a vivid example of FLP within your familly. However, I found it a bit difficult to follow your ideas in the one big paragraph with lots of FLP examples. I wish you stopped after certain situations and refer to the theory.
    Overall, I liked your approach of personalization of the complex language theory by linguistic experiences of your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Opps,sorry for fragments. Due to the technical errors, I haven’t finished my comment. I think, it’s never ever late to comment. Well, let me continue my words. Experiences of individuals are always valuable to study. From your story, it’s really interesting to know different language practices among generations. And I also think that there is a lax awareness of majorities who exactly know about LP or even FLP. Perhaps, they don’t even call it as a family language policy. They can practice the languages without any intention of implementing such policy. The last thing that I want to mention that there is still a clear transition between paragraphs for readers to follow your ideas. Thanks for your post.


  3. There are many cases in Kazakhstan in terms of family language planning. I want to share one of it. While I was teaching at university one student was so different from others as he was able to speak so fluently, and even I dare to say advanced. His level of speaking abilities was much better than some teachers of EFL have. So I was curious about his language and asked about it. Surprisingly, he attend no additional English courses except lessons provided in his school. But then he explained that from the age of 3 he was shown cartoons in English, then programs, then news. His parents helped him to be interested in English and acquire this language. That might be also an example of FLP. There are a lot of ways to teach languages for parents. Willingness is what matters.


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