Navigating Tensions and Leveraging Identities: A Young Trilingual Child’s Emerging Language Ideologies

Jayoung Choi, Kennesaw State University


This case study examines emergent, evolving language ideologies of a trilingual child, from age 3–7, who was simultaneously acquiring two heritage languages, Korean and Farsi, as well as English in the United States. A qualitative analysis of the child’s conversations in a naturally occurring home context extends the literature centered on the language ideologies of adults and older children. Findings grounded in the language ideology and translanguaging theories revealed that the child navigated the tension between competing language ideologies imposed upon him while also trying to exercise agency by leveraging his multilingual identity. He was learning about and deciding whether to accept or reject different elements of language norms and the implicit monolingual ideology behind them, while at the same time figuring out where his identity as a multilingual person fits into his environment. These findings have useful implications for teachers and families of multilingual children.