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Title:The relationship of academic achievement to the language use and language attitudes of bilingual Chicago youths of Mexican descent
Author(s):MacGregor-Mendoza, Patricia Lee
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Escobar, Anna Maria
Department / Program:Spanish, Italian and Portuguese
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Bilingual and Multicultural
Language, Modern
Education, Secondary
Education, Higher
Abstract:The present study compares traits of Midwestern youths of Mexican descent from three separate academic levels: high school dropouts (HSD), high school students (HSS), and college students (CS). Data for the study were obtained by means of a questionnaire that included sociodemographic information (e.g. ethnic identity, socioeconomic status), academic information (e.g. grade retention, grade paint average), as well as sociolinguistic information regarding the use of and attitudes toward Spanish and English. HSD informants were interviewed orally; HSS and CS informants filled out a written version of the HSD interview.
While previous research has found that the sociodemographic and academic factors of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and grade point average yield the strongest indicators of academic achievement, the present study found sibling education, informant's grade retention, and informant's participation in bilingual education as well as informant's grade point average were most strongly associated with academic achievement. Factors such as parental education, academic track, and study times showed a more moderate influence. Finally, factors such as ethnic identity, socioeconomic status, informant nativity, and family size were not found to be associated with academic achievement.
While studies regarding southwestern Mexican populations have found a preference for Spanish in informal contexts and a preference for English in formal contexts, the data from the present study did not reveal such a distinction. Instead, in interpersonal interaction, the study's Midwest informants chose to use Spanish and English based primarily on their interlocutor's proficiency, place of birth, and the age difference between informant and interlocutor. Topic was seen to be associated with language choice, but to a lesser degree. In their personal language use, (e.g. reading, praying) informants at different academic levels chose to employ Spanish and English for separate purposes, such that at no time did all three groups coincide with their use of either language.
The data regarding language attitudes revealed that Midwest informants in this study held both Spanish and English in very high regard and, very much in contrast to studies regarding the attitudes of Southwest Mexican populations, informants here were seen to associate both languages with affective, instrumental, integrative attitudes and retained a high degree of loyalty to both languages.
Finally, the present study's results counter assumptions of a detrimental impact of Spanish on academic achievement. Instead, results suggest that Spanish may encourage academic achievement rather than represent a hindrance.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 MacGregor-Mendoza, Patricia Lee
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9702593
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9702593

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