Mother-Adolescent Language Proficiency and Adolescent Academic and Emotional Adjustment Among Chinese American Families

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Abstract

This study examined the role of adolescents' and mothers' self-reports of English and heritage language proficiency in youth's academic and emotional adjustment among 444 Chinese American families. Adolescents who were proficient in English tended to exhibit higher reading achievement scores, math achievement scores, and overall GPA. Mothers who were English proficient tended to have children with higher academic achievement and fewer depressive symptoms. Results also indicated that adolescents' heritage language maintenance was associated with positive adjustment, particularly amongst foreign-born youth and for youth whose parents were highly proficient in the heritage language. Mother-adolescent match in heritage language proficiency was related to higher math achievement scores and overall GPA. Additionally, higher heritage language proficiency was associated with fewer depressive symptoms for foreign-born but not U.S.-born youth. Overall, the findings suggest that proficiency in both the English and heritage language may confer advantages to Chinese American youth.

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