Examining the Oral Language Competency of Children from Korean Immigrant Families in English-Only and Dual Language Immersion Schools

Publisher: Journal of Early Childhood Research, vol. 16, issue 1
Mar 01, 2018
Authors
Jane Younga Choi, Jin Sook Lee, and Janet S. Oh
In this study, the authors examined the bilingual language development among Korean American first-graders in two southern California cities and explored the opportunities for language use available to them in various spaces: at school (one dual language immersion school and one traditional English-only public school), at home, and in the community. Data collected over 15 months included three oral language proficiency assessments in Korean and English; interviews with parents and children; and fieldnotes based on observations at home, at school, and during extracurricular activities. All of the children, regardless of school setting, showed increases in English proficiency; however, their Korean development varied. We found that English opportunities were widely accessible for all of the participants; however, opportunities to use Korean were starkly different between the two cities. The families who resided in communities with few Korean resources needed more financial and temporal resources to attain regular exposure to Korean, which suggests that supporting the development of a less-commonly spoken heritage language in the United States (e.g. Korean) may not be accessible to all immigrant families. Finally, we found that for children in the developmental stages of bilingualism, purposeful and deliberate instruction (particularly in vocabulary and grammar) and diverse opportunities to practice both languages are continuously needed.