Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Another Argument for Chinese School!

A new study suggests that Asian-American children who speak English only have more internalizing problems (the apparent presence of anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, and sadness) and externalizing behaviors (the frequency of arguing, fighting, getting angry, acting impulsively, and disturbing ongoing activities), as reported in Psychiatric News:

Han and Huang decided to tap information collected about a subset of subjects in this study—12,580—for their own investigation. Of these youngsters, 11,060 were American-born, non-Hispanic whites, and 1,520 had family roots in Asia. Of the 11,060 youngsters, 10,850 spoke English only, and 210 were bilingual, mostly in European languages such as French, German, or Italian. Of the 1,520 with Asian ancestry, 910 were bilingual, 380 spoke only English, and 230 spoke only a foreign language. Those who were bilingual or who spoke only a foreign language spoke Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, or a Southeast-Asian language.

Han and Huang investigated whether there were any links between being bilingual in kindergarten and later internalizing problems and externalizing behaviors, while considering several possibly confounding variables such as country of origin, socioeconomic status, size of family, school type and standards, and academic performance.

They found that such links did exist. Although all the children had a similar level of internalizing and externalizing problems at kindergarten entry, those who were bilingual had slower growth rates in such problems subsequently and a lower level of such problems by the fifth grade than did children who spoke English only.

So it looks as if being bilingual can reduce internalizing and externalizing problems in Asian-American children, Han and Huang concluded, and they proposed several explanations. “In addition to having no problems with English in the school environment, bilingual children receive extra benefits from the cultural resources in their families and ethnic communities. The ability to understand two cultures intimately is also likely to help children appreciate diversity and get along with peers and teachers,” they said.
Nothing in the report mentions internationally adopted Asian children or transracial families, so who knows whether results would be different.  But it would seem to apply even more, since it would be even more helpful for adopted children to "receive extra benefits from the cultural resources in their . . . ethnic communities." This conclusion from the researches would also be applicable to transracially adopted children: "The ability to understand two cultures intimately is also likely to help children appreciate diversity and get along with peers and teachers.”

So now I have another argument for why we go to Chinese School!

1 comment:

Joanne said...

Hi, it's Mia's (DanDan) mom! I plan on enrolling Mia in Chinese school next September (when she starts Kindergarten) - should I be doing this sooner? Thanks again, for ALL the info you supply me and so many other with ~ it is greatly appreciated!