The Effect of Family Structure on the Development of Bilinguality

There are millions of immigrant families living in western countries who struggle to maintain their heritage language and cultural identity for themselves as well as their children. When immigrants move to the western countries their native language is often forgotten by their children and grand children.

Based on a study by Dr. Lily Halsted from the department of Psychology at Queens University of Charlotte, published in Psychology 2013,Vol 4,No 9 by Scientific research publishing(View Original Post, please click here), one of the key factors to help preserve the heritage language in children of immigrants is family structure.  Dr. Halsted in her study recruited students from five different public and private universities who responded to an extensive survey designed not only to determine the students’ competence in their second language but also to examine the structure of families who tend to bring up bilingual children.

She found that the presence of a bilingual mother is one of the key factors in having bilingual children.  In addition, the presence of a bilingual father and a sister seem to positively influence the level of bilinguality in children. So having bilingual parents and a sister tend to make it much more likely for a child boy or a girl to become bilingual.

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