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E Pluribus Unum: Bilingualism and Loss of Language in the Second Generation

Alejandro Portes and Lingxin Hao
Sociology of Education
Vol. 71, No. 4 (Oct., 1998), pp. 269-294
DOI: 10.2307/2673171
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2673171
Page Count: 26
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E Pluribus Unum: Bilingualism and Loss of Language in the Second Generation
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Abstract

This study examined patterns of language adaptation by over 5,000 second-generation students in south Florida and southern California. It found that among most immigrant nationalities, knowledge of and preference for English is nearly universal, that only a minority remain fluent in their parents' languages, and there are wide variations among immigrant groups in the extent of their retention of these languages. The authors used multivariate and multilevel analyses to identify the principal factors accounting for variation in foreign language maintenance and bilingualism. They found that a number of variables emerged as significant predictors, but these variables do not account for differences among immigrant nationalities, such as between children of Asian and Hispanic backgrounds, that become even more sharply delineated. The reasons for this divergence are explored and their policy implications are discussed.

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