Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Psychological health, academic success of Hispanic youth improve as ability to speak English grows

Date:
January 23, 2014
Source:
National Communication Association
Summary:
Hispanic teenagers who learn English well enough to engage in friendships and activities with members of mainstream U.S. culture are more likely to succeed in school and feel better about themselves and their futures, according to findings.

Hispanic teenagers who learn English well enough to engage in friendships and activities with members of mainstream U.S. culture are more likely to succeed in school and feel better about themselves and their futures, according to findings from "Cross-cultural Adaptation of Hispanic Youth: A Study of Communication Patterns, Functional Fitness, and Psychological Health," published online today in the National Communication Association's journal, Communication Monographs.

The authors of this study found that the engagement of Hispanic youth in extracurricular activities and other English language-intensive contexts enhanced their language competence. This competence, in turn, further facilitated their relationships with members of the cultural mainstream and helped them gain access to information, resources and social support critical for their upward social and economic mobility.

"We also found that Hispanic youth feel less alienated and more satisfied living in the U.S. as their English competence and connection with non-Hispanics grow," said the study's lead author Kelly McKay-Semmler, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication studies at the University of South Dakota. "This was true whether the Hispanic students represented a small or large portion of the population of their school."

The researchers gathered data by conducting one-on-one interviews with high school students from a region of the upper Midwest that included parts of Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. Students came from a mix of rural and urban schools that had both high and low percentages of Hispanic students. Interviews were conducted in the preferred language of participants -- Spanish or English.

Two-thirds of the participants were of Mexican descent, with most of the others reporting Central American background. Some 68 percent were second-generation immigrants, 23 percent were foreign born and the remaining 9 percent were third-generation U.S. residents.

The researchers tested seven hypotheses concerning the causative links among language competency, communication with non-Hispanics, psychological health and academic performance. They found high ratings in each category were correlated with high ratings in the others.

"The study offered practical insights by highlighting the critical role that schools play in facilitating the successful integration of Hispanic youth," McKay-Semmler said. "By encouraging multiethnic interaction on group projects and extracurricular activities, schools can give Hispanic and other ethnic minority children important opportunities to enter the cultural mainstream. Study participants who had more contact and friendships with non-Hispanic Americans developed better English skills and felt more comfortable in the mainstream culture."

The findings may be relevant to other ethnic minority students who need to toggle between home and school cultures. They show that friendships with members of the mainstream culture, and involvement in extracurricular activities, are essential to giving ethnic minorities tools they need to succeed in the larger U.S. society. One of the schools that participated in the research is piloting a program aimed at linking English-speaking youth currently involved in school or community activities with youth who are learning English and showing interest in extracurricular involvement, the authors write.

"These kids are crossing cultures every day," said McKay-Semmler. "Situated at the intersection of cultural diversity and the cultural mainstream, U.S. schools are uniquely able to provide children from multiple and varied backgrounds the communication opportunities and cross-cultural learning experiences that assist all youth in becoming successful members of the larger society. Schools provide the essential communicative contexts through which adaptation occurs."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Communication Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kelly McKay-Semmler, Young Yun Kim. Cross-cultural adaptation of Hispanic youth: a study of communication patterns, functional fitness, and psychological health. Communication Monographs, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1080/03637751.2013.870346

Cite This Page:

National Communication Association. "Psychological health, academic success of Hispanic youth improve as ability to speak English grows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140123075428.htm>.
National Communication Association. (2014, January 23). Psychological health, academic success of Hispanic youth improve as ability to speak English grows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140123075428.htm
National Communication Association. "Psychological health, academic success of Hispanic youth improve as ability to speak English grows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140123075428.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins