Internal and External Factors That Support Children's Minority First Language and English Purpose Sequential bilingual children in the United States often speak 2 languages that have different social statuses (minority–majority) and separate contexts for learning (home–school). Thus, distinct factors may support the development of each language. This study examined which child internal and external factors were related to vocabulary skills in a ... Research Article
Research Article  |   July 05, 2018
Internal and External Factors That Support Children's Minority First Language and English
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Giang Pham
    School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, San Diego State University, CA
  • Timothy Tipton
    San Diego Unified School District, CA
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Giang Pham: gpham@sdsu.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Shelley Gray
    Editor-in-Chief: Shelley Gray×
  • Editor: Cynthia Puranik
    Editor: Cynthia Puranik×
Article Information
Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 05, 2018
Internal and External Factors That Support Children's Minority First Language and English
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2018, Vol. 49, 595-606. doi:10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0086
History: Received August 24, 2017 , Revised November 2, 2017 , Accepted February 27, 2018
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2018, Vol. 49, 595-606. doi:10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0086
History: Received August 24, 2017; Revised November 2, 2017; Accepted February 27, 2018

Purpose Sequential bilingual children in the United States often speak 2 languages that have different social statuses (minority–majority) and separate contexts for learning (home–school). Thus, distinct factors may support the development of each language. This study examined which child internal and external factors were related to vocabulary skills in a minority language versus English.

Method Participants included 69 children, aged 5–8 years, who lived in Southern California, spoke Vietnamese as the home language, and received school instruction in English. All participants had at least 1 foreign-born parent, and most mothers reported limited English proficiency. Parents completed a telephone survey, and children completed measures of receptive and expressive vocabulary in each language. Using correlations and stepwise regression, we examined predictors of vocabulary skills in each language that were internal to the child (age, gender, analytical reasoning, phonological memory) or that pertained to the surrounding environment (cumulative exposure, quantity and quality of input/output).

Results Vietnamese vocabulary outcomes were related to multiple external factors, of which input and enrichment activities were the best predictors. In contrast, English vocabulary outcomes were related to internal factors, of which age and phonological memory were the best predictors. Parental use of Vietnamese contributed to children's Vietnamese vocabulary outcomes but was not related to children's English vocabulary outcomes.

Conclusions Vietnamese exposure does not hinder English development. Children from immigrant families are learning English with or without familial support. Rich and frequent exposure and opportunities for practice are essential for the continued development of a minority first language.

Acknowledgments
Funding by the San Diego State University Grants Program was awarded to the first author (2016–2017). Writing of this article was supported by the NIH K23DC014750 awarded to the first author. We thank Carrie Rea, Reashon Villery, Veronica Lopez-Mendez, Elizabeth Castillo-Duvall, Akoni Derige, Jennifer Taps Richard, Ashley Correia, Nicole Phillips, Olivia Chin, Thu Tong, Jane Nguyen, and the teachers and staff at San Diego Unified School District for their collaboration. We also thank members of the Bilingual Development in Context research laboratory for data collection and transcription (listed in alphabetical order): Monica Nguyen Biscocho, Jackie Contreras, Kristine Thuy Dinh, Diane Pham Guerrero, Judit Limon Hernandez, Christine Melcher, Kelly Nguyen, KimAnh Nguyen, Tina Nguyen, Daena Taylor, and Claudia Valdivia. We thank the children and families for their participation.
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