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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Literacy Practices in Two Korean-American Communities

  • Author(s): Scarcella, Robin;
  • Chin, Kusup
  • et al.

In this report, we explore the practices of one of the fastest growing ethnic minority groups in the United States: Korean Americans. We report on a two-part study of the Korean and English literacy patterns found in two different communities: an ethnic enclave called Midbrae and an etthnically integrated area called Hill Heights. The first part was a year long ethnographic study of the two cities; the second was a telephone interview study involving a sample of Korean-American adults from each community. We conclude that literacy practices vary in the two cities. In Hill Heights, adult Korean Americans use English in order to participate in the society around them. In contrast, in Midbrae, adult Korean Americans have fewer opportunities to use English outside of their homes and many opportunities to use Korean. When they do use English, they often use it with non-native speakers. These Korean Americans may maintain their Korean literacy practices, buty they are at risk of never acquiring native-like English ones.

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