The forgotten treasure: Bilingualism and asian children's emotional and behavioral health

Wen Jui Han, Chien Chung Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives. We investigated the relation between the language status of children and their behavioral and emotional well-being during their early school years. Methods. Behavioral and emotional well-being were drawn from teacherreported data and included externalizing and internalizing behaviors. Three-level growth curve analyses were conducted on a subsample (n = 12586) of children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, kindergarten cohort, who originated from Asian countries. US-born, non-Hispanic White children served as the comparison group. Results. All children started with a similar level of internalizing and externalizing behaviors at kindergarten entry. The growth rate of problem behaviors was slowest in fluent bilingual and non-English-dominant bilingual children compared with White English-monolingual children. By contrast, problem behaviors increased at a significantly faster rate in non-English-monolingual children, who had the highest level of problem behaviors among all children by fifth grade. Conclusions. By fifth grade, fluent bilingual and non-English-dominant bilingual children had the lowest levels of internalizing and externalizing behaviors, whereas non-English-monolingual children had the highest levels of both behavior problems. Our data suggest emotional and behavioral benefits of being bilingual.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)831-838
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Volume100
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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