Cross-sectional associations of Spanish and English competence and well-being in Latino children of immigrants in kindergarten

Brian A. Collins, Claudio O. Toppelberg, Carola Suárez-Orozco, Erin O'Connor, Alfonso Nieto-Castañon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The aim of this study is to examine within an ecological model the associations of dual language (Spanish/English) competences with the emotional and behavioral well-being of young children of immigrants in kindergarten. Latino children of immigrants (n = 228) from a public school-based community sample were assessed using standardized, comprehensive measures of Spanish and English oral language competence and normed teacher reports on five dimensions of emotional and behavioral well-being and school functioning (interpersonal, intrapersonal, and affective strengths, connection to family, and school functioning). Relevant contextual factors at home (maternal education, poverty, family structure) and school (teacher experience and practices, classroom composition), as well as child factors (non-verbal IQ, gender) were considered. Spanish and English competences accounted for moderate to large portions of variance in all dimensions of well-being. The contributions of child, home, and school variables to well-being were much smaller than language competence, and in most cases, not significant. Our findings suggest that dual language competence is critically associated with the emotional and behavioral well-being and school functioning of Latino children of immigrants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-23
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of the Sociology of Language
Issue number208
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2011

Keywords

  • Latino immigrant children
  • affect and childhood bilingualism
  • childhood bilingualism and well being
  • dual language competence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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