English Acquisition and Japanese Language Maintenance Among Japanese-American Youth

Sayaka Kawamura, Bowling Green State University
Franklin Goza, Bowling Green State University

Despite the growing number of Japanese speaking immigrants in the U.S. and the pronounced linguistic dissimilarity between Japanese and English, few studies have examined English proficiency levels or Japanese language maintenance. We use 2000 data from the 5% IPUMS file to examine English proficiency and language maintenance among first-, second-, and third-generation Japanese immigrant youth in the United States. Before presenting multivariate results for our dependent variables, descriptive statistics are presented detailing numerous significant differences within and across generations. Furthermore, the second-generation is divided into subgroups based on each parent's birthplace. This study also contrasts the results of Japanese-Americans with those of Korean- Americans, speakers of another language very distant from English, in an attempt to ground the significance of our findings. Findings provide support for many of the hypotheses advanced. They also reveal that our regression models did a much better job explaining English acquisition than language maintenance.

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Presented in Session 63: Socioeconomic Attainment and Assimilation of Asian Americans