This paper analyses the effects of direct and indirect early parental investments on the German-language development of 3–5-year-old children of Turkish immigrants and native German children. Since Turkish parents are on average less proficient in German than native parents, it is hypothesised that Turkish children cannot profit as much as German children from activities inside the family (e.g., frequency of parental reading to child). For the same reason, activities outside the family (e.g., attendance at playgroups) might then be of special importance for their acquisition of German-language skills. Used for the empirical analyses are the data of the project ‘Preschool Education and Educational Careers among Migrant Children’, which includes a repeated measure of children’s German vocabulary over a one-year period. It is demonstrated that German children can profit more than Turkish children from activities inside the family, while the opposite is true regarding activities outside the family. Additional analyses with the Turkish sample show that a higher frequency of activities inside the family improves Turkish children’s German vocabulary only under the condition that their parents have a good command of German. The findings indicate that activities outside the family are a very effective means of fostering development of the second language among migrant children.
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Another possibility would be to leave debts to their children. But the authors assume that this possibility is often not accessible.
It is important to note that these hypotheses apply only to children’s German proficiency (which is a skill specific to the receiving country), but not to other competences like children’s general cognitive skills. Also no predictions about the development of Turkish language skills are made.
This includes 453 children with one or both parents born in Turkey (second generation) and 52 children with both parents born in Germany (third generation). Because of the small sample size of the third generation, these generational groups will not be differentiated in the analyses.
Instead of the respondents’ self-ratings of their proficiency in German, an interviewer-rating could also be used. But then no comparable rating of the respondents’ partners would be available. Nor could the interviewer rating be conducted in cases where no German at all was spoken during the interview. For these reasons, I prefer to use the respondents’ self-ratings. But in cases where both measures are available, these are highly correlated (gamma: 0.88, tau-b: 0.73).
Families’ income would be another time-varying indicator of the families’ socio-economic situation. However, including income does not change the results, but leads to a considerable drop in the number of cases because of non-response to this question. It is therefore not used here.
Treating parents’ proficiency in German as a time-constant variable and including only an interaction between parents’ proficiency in German and frequency of their reading to their children without the main effect of parents’ proficiency in German leads to the same results.
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The author gratefully acknowledges the financial support granted by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the project ‘Preschool Education and Educational Careers among Migrant Children’. Furthermore, I would like to thank Jan O. Jonsson and the reviewers of this journal for their very helpful comments. I also thank Betty Haire Weyerer for correcting the English manuscript.
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Becker, B. Who Profits Most from Early Parental Investments? The Effects of Activities Inside and Outside the Family on German and Turkish Children’s Language Development. Child Ind Res 3, 29–46 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-009-9048-4