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Wong-Fillmore, L. (1991). When Learning a Second Language Means Losing the First. Early Childhood Research Quarterly 6 , 323-46. [Judy Hicks, Abstract #2]. Comparison Sample Group. Main Sample Group. Study Rationale: Language loss requires explanation Research Questions:

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Wong-Fillmore, L. (1991). When Learning a Second Language Means Losing the First. Early Childhood Research Quarterly 6, 323-46. [Judy Hicks, Abstract #2]

Comparison Sample Group

Main Sample Group

Study

Rationale: Language loss requires explanation

Research Questions:

  • Under what conditions and how do children lose their L1?
  • How does EO or Bilingual education contribute to language loss?

Methods: Interviews of 1,100 families (conducted by volunteers) with 43 forced-choice and 2 open-ended questions. Approx 1/3 of the families (the comparison group) had children in Spanish-only preschools the other families (main sample group) were representative of the other L1s in CA. 98% of families had an L1 other than English.

  • Strengths:
  • Large N, exhaustive interviews, representative sample of families; main sample group and comparison group included
  • Detailed analyses on a number of dimensions (type of preschool, birth order of child, length of residence, primary caregiver, etc.)
  • Weaknesses:
  • It is impossible, from this data, to draw causal conclusions between language use in preschool programs and shifts in language use at home.
  • The comparison sample is all Spanish-speaking, while the main sample is all other L1s. This seems problematic re: cultural differences.
  • The study is descriptive, but it lacks an exploration of the “hows” of language loss and language learning.
  • Findings/Theories developed from the data
  • The younger children are when they learn English, the more dramatic the effect on language use in their homes.
  • Powerful forces for assimilation speed language loss.
  • Parents lose the ability to socialize their children.
  • Children should not be required to learn English until they have a firm grasp on their L1.
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