Making it in America: Parental Language Retention, English Proficiency, and Academic Aspirations among Immigrant Children
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Sociology Honors Theses; 2006
The larger share of immigrants in America today has important implications in American society. How immigrants can achieve their American dream and how they become integrated in American society remains unclear. What is clear is that these immigrants typically live in the lower rung of the socioeconomic ladder, but many come here so their children will have better opportunities and exceed them in socioeconomic status. Children’s educational achievement and aspirations are essential for their success. It is for this reason that the determinants of educational aspirations are so important. I use data from the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS) to determine the relationship between parental language retention and educational aspirations. I include in my analyses three ethnic groups: Cubans, Filipinos, and Mexicans. The initial results reveal that speaking parental language at home increases children’s college aspirations. However, this relationship is reversed when both peer and frequency of language use is taken into consideration. This relationship takes yet another turn as it is demonstrated that immigrant children are most likely to have college aspirations if they are able to speak parental language and are proficient in English. In contrast, immigrants who are proficient in English but are poor in parental language have lower level of college aspiration compared to the bilingual children. I discuss these general findings and some anomalies among ethnic groups using the theories of classical and segmented assimilation.
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