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Issues in Applied Linguistics

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Te Espero: Varying Child Bilingual Abilities and the Effects on Dynamics in Mexican Immigrant Families


This paper offers a closer examination of the effects of an English-dominant society on bilingual abilities by looking at everyday family dynamics in Mexican immigrant families. Three immigrant families from Mexico currently residing in Northern California provided the data for this project through ten hours of audio recordings documenting their normal home interactions. A qualitative analysis of family interactions shows that while the youngest children are proficient in the dominant language of the society they live in, they experience a far greater degree of difficulty with bilingualism than do their older siblings. This difficulty leads to heritage language avoidance with their parents and a weakening of family interaction. As a result, middle children find it necessary to take it upon themselves to act as translators within the family in an effort to maintain cohesive family dynamics.

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