Synergy in Basic and Applied BSSR

Access to Dual Immersion Schools: Home language sustainability as a protective buffer for at-risk populations

A significant amount of scholarship has demonstrated the cognitive, social-emotional, academic, and economic benefits of bilingualism during the life-span. Recent scholarship has even demonstrated that bilingualism confers significant benefits in executive functioning to Latinx children who are born prematurely. However, despite these benefits of bilingualism, minoritized bilingual children who live in poverty often do not have access to dual immersion programs that also educate them in their family language. Exacerbating this problem, recent scholarship shows that the early language environments of low-income Latinx children can be negatively affected when their Spanish-speaking caregivers face racism, assimilation pressure, and/or misinformed advice based on English-only ideologies. As such, these children's family language suffers. Sustaining children's family language encourages a maintained connection to their heritage and cultural values as well as cognitive development. Research demonstrates that Latinx children whose family language is sustained through dual immersion education show favorable academic attainment, including significantly higher graduation rates. It has yet to be studied, however, whether the sustainability of the family language through dual immersion instruction has life-long benefits in the area of health. We propose funding mechanisms that support cross-sectional and longitudinal studies on the effects of dual immersion education models that promote home language sustainability as a determinant of health. Such studies would have much-needed implications for the fields of education, communication sciences, linguistics, and developmental psychology.

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Idea No. 345