Minority Language Proficiency of Adolescent Immigrant Children in England, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden

Article

Abstract

We study minority language proficiency of adolescent immigrant children in England, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. We elaborate on theoretical mechanisms of exposure, efficiency and non-economic incentives of minority language acquisition. Using data from adolescent immigrant children in England, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, we find evidence for the role of exposure in that immigrant children who were born abroad were more proficient than those born in the host country. Exposure via the percentage of co-ethnics at school is positively related to minority proficiency, whereas parental proficiency in the destination language is negatively associated. Also belonging to a larger immigrant group increases exposure to the minority language and results in language retention. Efficiency in terms of cognitive abilities does not play a role. Non-economic incentives to retain the minority language, indicated by the ethnic identification of parents, is positively related to the child’s minority language proficiency and this relationship is stronger when the quality of the parent-child relationship is higher.

Keywords

Ethnic minorities Immigration Language proficiency Mother tongue 

Herkunfts-Sprachkompetenz von jugendlichen Immigranten in England, Deutschland, den Niederlanden und Schweden

Zusammenfassung

Wir untersuchen die Minoritäts- (Herkunfts-) Sprachkompetenz von jugendlichen Immigranten in England, Deutschland, den Niederlanden und Schweden. Wir spezifizieren theoretische Mechanismen wie Ausgesetztsein (exposure), Wirksamkeit und nicht-ökonomische Anreize auf das Erlernen der Sprache von Minoritäten. Wir verwenden Daten von jugendlichen Immigranten in den vier Ländern. Die Ergebnisse sind, dass Kinder von Immigranten, die nicht im Gastland geboren wurden, kompetenter in der Herkunftssprache waren als solche, die im Gastland geboren wurden. Die Sprachkompetenz stieg mit dem Anteil eigenethnischer Jugendlicher in der Schule, war aber geringer, wenn die Eltern die Sprache des Gastlandes beherrschen. Weiter zeigte sich, dass die Zugehörigkeit zu einer großen Gruppe von Immigranten dazu führt, der Sprache der Minorität stärker ausgesetzt zu sein, was dann dazu führte, die Herkunftssprache beizubehalten. Hingegen sind kognitive Fähigkeiten nicht bedeutsam für das Ausmaß der Kompetenz. Nicht-ökonomische Anreize, die Sprache der Minorität beizubehalten, z. B. durch das Ausmaß der ethnischen Identifikation der Eltern, weisen einen positiven Zusammenhang mit der Herkunfts-Sprachkompetenz der Kinder auf, und diese Beziehung ist stärker, wenn die Eltern-Kind-Bindung höher ist.

Schlüsselwörter

Ethnische Minoritäten Immigration Sprachkompetenz Muttersprache 

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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtthe Netherlands

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