Heritage language maintenance and English language acquisition

Heritage Language Maintenance and
English Language Acquisition among
Tenth-Grade Asian and Hispanic Students
in the United States
Sixth Heritage Language Research Institute
UCLA, June 2012
Eunjeong Choi
The University of Texas at Austin
Literature Review
Research on language use and the shift
among the U.S. immigrant population has
documented a rapidity of heritage language
loss and concomitant English acquisition in a
number of immigrant groups (Fishman, 1991;
Lopez, 1996; Rumbaut, 2009).
Among immigrants, Asian-Americans have
the highest heritage language attrition rate
such that only one in ten third-generation
Asian-Americans is bilingual, whereas the
number of bilingual third-generation Latinos
is four times higher (Lopez, 1996).
Literature Review (cont’d)
At the core of heritage language maintenance are ecological
patterns of heritage language learning and teaching. That is, the
speaker simultaneously belongs to the home and community
where the heritage language is actually used and to a
mainstream society that exclusively uses English. Family and
ethnic community members are the most immediate and critical
community in which the use of the mother tongue occurs for
the purpose of intergenerational intimacy and communication
(Carreira & Kagan, 2011; Tse, 2001; Tseng & Fuligini, 2000). It has
also been found that support from mainstream institutions is no
less important for heritage language maintenance (Tse, 1998).
 However, it seems that immigrant children’s shift to becoming
completely monolingual English speakers does not reside solely
within the individual, but it is shaped by the society where
English ability is a prerequisite to academic and social success (J.
Lee and Oxelson, 2006; Rhodes & Pufahl, 2010).
Focus of this study
Within this context, this research aims to
investigate the patterns of heritage
language use with ethnic community
members speaking the language and the
acquisition of the English language among
tenth-grade students in the United States
 As the two immigrant groups show
relatively low and high rates of heritage
language maintenance respectively (Lopez,
1996; Rumbaut, 2009).
Data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:
2002) that was conducted by the Research Triangle Institute
on behalf of the National Center for Education Statistics
 This secondary school study aimed to track developmental
and educational experiences of a nationally representative
sample of tenth grade students in the United States.
 Using a sub-dataset pertaining to “Part IV: Language” in the
student questionnaire surveyed in the base-year of 2002.
 Out of the nationally representative study, this current
research particularly focuses on Asian and Hispanic students
whose native languages are not English (N=1069).
Research Questions
1. How often do the Asian and Hispanic
students speak their heritage languages with
family members and friends, and are there
any differences of language use frequency
between the two groups?
2. How is their English ability manifested in
their reading test scores depending on their
generational status and the developmental
stage of English acquisition?
RQ1: chi-square testing
 RQ2: two Two-Way ANOVA analyses
Research Question 1
Figure 1. The distributions of native language use
frequency with family members and friends
Asian, with mother
Hispanic, with mother
Asian, with father
Hispanic, with father
Asian, with siblings
Hispanic, with siblings
Hispanic, with friends
Asian, with friends
About half of the time
Always or most of time
Research Question 1
 There was a strong association between ethnic
group and how much the students use their
native languages with their mother, father, and
siblings, but no significance was found in their
native language use with friends between the
two groups.
 The students generally follow the typical profile
of heritage language speaking children. Namely,
they spoke their native languages relatively more
with their mother and father, less with their
siblings, and much less with friends, which was
consistent with the previous research findings.
Research Question 2
2. How is their English ability manifested in
their reading test scores depending on
their generational status and the
developmental stage of English
Two-Way ANOVA 1: Generational
Status and Reading Test
Figure 2. Reading test scores of the two racial groups
depending on generational status.
Research Question 2.1
 There was a significant effect of race on
the reading test scores, such that the
Asian students had a significantly higher
reading score mean than the Hispanic
 However, there was neither the significant
main effect of generational status nor the
significant interaction effect on the
reading test.
Two-Way ANOVA 2:
ESL Experience and Reading Test
Figure 3. Reading test scores of the two racial groups
depending on previous ESL program experience
Research Question 2.2
 The mean difference of the reading scores
between the two racial groups was not
significant among those who had ever been
in an ESL program before, but it became
significant among those who had never been
in an ESL program before. In other words,
the gap between students with relatively
incomplete English fluency and students with
relatively high English fluency was greater for
the Asian-student group.
Both Asian and Hispanic students used their
heritage languages more frequently with their
mother and father than with their siblings and
The Asian students generally showed less
frequent use of a heritage language with
community members and higher English
acquisition than their Hispanic peers.
It seems that Asian students, who had acquired
English ability and had no need to be placed into
an ESL program, had a faster assimilation to the
English language than the Hispanic students.
Limitations and Further
Difficulty in extrapolating data specific to
a minority subset from the available ELS
 The English reading test scores as English
 What is the relationship of heritage
language maintenance and English
 What influences the differences between
the two groups?
Carreira, M., & Kagan, O. (2011).The results of the national heritage language survey: Implications for
teaching, curriculum design, and professional development. Foreign Language Annals, 44(1), 40–64.
Fishman, J. A. (1991). Reversing language shift:Theoretical and empirical foundations of assistance to threatened
languages. Bristol, PA: Multilingual Matters.
Lee, J., & Oxelson, E. (2006). “It’s not my job”: K–12 teacher attitudes toward students’ heritage language
maintenance. Bilingual Research Journal, 30(2), 453–477.
Lopez, D. (1996). Language: Diversity and assimilation. In R. Waldinger & M. Bozorgmehr (Eds.), Ethnic Los
Angeles (pp. 139–163). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
National Center for Education Statistics. (n.d.). Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS: 2002). Retrieved
from http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/els2002/index.asp.
Rhodes, N. C., & Pufahl, I. (2010). Foreign language teaching in U.S. schools: Results of a national survey.
Washington, DC: CAL.
Rumbaut, R. G. (2009). A language graveyard? The evolution of language competencies, preferences and use
among young adult children of immigrants. In T. G. Wiley, J. Lee & R. Rumberger (Eds.), The education of
language minority immigrants in the United States (pp. 35–71). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Tse, L. (1998a). Affecting affect: The impact of heritage language programs on student attitudes. In S.
Krashen, L. Tse & J. McQuillan (Eds.), Heritage language development (pp. 51–72). Culver City, CA: Language
Education Associates.
Tse, L. (2001). Resisting and reversing language shift: Heritage-language resilience among U.S. native
biliterates. Harvard Educational Review, 71(4), 676–709.
Tseng,V., & Fuligni, A. J. (2000). Parent-adolescent language use and relationships among immigrant families
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