January 6, 2014

Language maintenance and loss in a population study of young Australian children

The following manuscript has been accepted for publication
Verdon, S., McLeod, S., & Winsler, A. (in press). Language maintenance and loss in a population study of young Australian children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly.
Here is the abstract
Information about children’s cultural and linguistic diversity and language acquisition patterns is important for the development of sustainable educational practices. While there is some knowledge about language acquisition, maintenance, and loss in adults and older children, there is limited information about young children. The first three waves of data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), from 4,252 young children were considered longitudinally over the first 5 years of life to identify patterns of language, acquisition, maintenance, and loss among those who speak languages other than English. Overall, 91.5% of children maintained speaking a language other than English at wave 2, yet only 86.6% did so at wave 3. Children’s patterns of language acquisition and loss over the first 5 years of life varied within and between language groups. For example, Arabic-speaking children tended to maintain Arabic throughout early childhood, whereas Italian-speaking children’s use of Italian decreased considerably over the first 5 years of life while use of English steadily increased. Environmental and personal factors such as parental language use, presence of a grandparent in the home, type of early childhood care, first- and second-generation immigrant status and parental perception of support from the educational environment were related to language maintenance among non-English speaking children.