Children and the Language Shift: Factors Affecting English Usage at Home among U.S. Immigrant Groups

Kris R. Noam, University of California, Irvine
Susan K. Brown, University of California, Irvine

This research investigates factors likely to influence the tendency to speak English at home among immigrant households. Because U.S. immigrant groups who have lower levels of education or who come from low-education countries gain the most from their children's acquisition of English, we hypothesize that for these groups, the presence of a preschool child will be especially likely to relate positively to English-speaking at home. We test this and other hypotheses using 2008-2010 American Community Survey data for immigrant married-couple households (defined as those with at least one parent coming to the country after age 12) across groups of immigrants from 15 different countries or country groupings. Results are generally consistent with the hypotheses. The findings illustrate the importance of taking both household-level and country of origin-level contextual factors into account in explaining linguistic usage patterns.

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Presented in Session 182: Immigrant Assimilation in the United States and Europe