Mexican-Origin Adolescents’ Spanish Proficiency Is High and Benefits Ethnic Identity, Resilience, and Life Meaning




Wang, Jun
Wen, Wen
Sim, Lester
Li, Xin
Yan, Jinjin
Kim, Su Yeong

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University of Texas at Austin Population Research Center



Retaining one’s heritage language is critical for the positive development of linguistic minority youth. However, research on heritage language development primarily focuses on younger children’s experiences. In a recent study exploring Spanish proficiency across six years during adolescence among Mexican-origin youth with first-generation immigrant parents, Jun Wang of Texas A&M along with PRC faculty scholar Su Yeong Kim and colleagues found that Spanish language proficiency was high and language development continued during adolescence. They also found that family relationship quality was more predictive of language proficiency than how much Spanish was spoken at home and that Mexican-origin adolescents’ Spanish proficiency consistently benefits their ethnic identity, resilience, and life meaning. The authors recommend that targeted and evidence-based intervention, prevention, and promotion programs be offered to support adolescents’ heritage language and resulting positive development.

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