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A Language Graveyard? The Evolution of Language Competencies, Preferences and Use among Young Adult Children of Immigrants

  • Author(s): Rumbaut, Ruben G
  • Editor(s): Wiley, TG;
  • Lee, JS;
  • Rumberger, RW
  • et al.

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This chapter examines the evolution of English and foreign language competencies, preferences, and use among young adult children of immigrants in the United States, including the extent to which bilingualism is sustained or not over time and generation in the U.S. The issues of language loyalty and change are first considered in a broader historical context, and a national profile is sketched of foreign and English language patterns over the past three censuses. It then focuses on results from the last wave of the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS), which followed a large sample of 1.5- and second-generation youth (immigrant children who arrived in the U.S. before adolescence, and U.S.-born children of immigrants) for more than a decade from mid-adolescence to their mid-twenties. The baseline sample of more than 5,000 was representative of 77 nationalities, including all of the principal immigrant groups in the U.S. today. The CILS data set permits both comparative and longitudinal analyses of language fluencies across the largest immigrant groups in the U.S., from widely different cultural and class origins, in distinct generational cohorts, and in different areas of settlement. The analysis is supplemented with other available survey and census data.

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