Why Children of Immigrants Often Involuntarily Lose a Language

Photo by: Clever Claire

“First-language loss occurs almost across the board by immigrants’ third generation, Light says. That is, Daniel’s children would most commonly be the ones experiencing this issue, with Daniel as a bilingual father. Factors such as home life, the concentration of an immigrant community and the length of time away from a native-speaking environment determine the rate at which first-language attrition occurs. But Light blames one overriding cause in U.S. immigrant children. ‘The largest factor that I can see is the attitude here of Americans. … They think of [immigrants] maintaining their language and culture as being un-American,’ she says.”

– In The Washington Post, Patrick Marion Bradley writes about how the children of immigrants often lose their parents’ native language once they’ve assimilated to life in the U.S. and in English-only situations in school, and how that affects the way these children communicate with their parents.

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