Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics VIAL

Ángel Huguet (1), José Luis Navarro (1), Silvia-Maria Chireac (2), Clara Sansó (1). Immigrant children and access to school language. A comparative study between Latin American and non-Latin American students in Spain. VIAL. Number 9/2012: 85-105.


Spain has recently become the main host country for immigrant citizens arriving in the European Union. As a result, immigrant children are being incorporated into the Spanish school system, therefore posing a set of challenges unknown until very recently. Teachers are mostly concerned about students' achievement of the necessary level of linguistic competence, as this is a key issue in order to successfully complete their schooling in a language that very often is different from their own L1. In this study, a sample of 49 immigrant boys and girls was compared to a group of 44 autochthonous students of the same age and school level. The analysis concentrated on the development of competence in Spanish, as well as on the role played by certain factors (such as length of stay in the host country or home language) in the acquisition of the language. The results obtained indicate that the process is a long and complex one, even when dealing with pupils whose L1 is a Latin American variety of Spanish.

Keywords: Spanish, linguistic knowledge, immigrant children, length of stay, L1/ L2

(1) Universitat de Lleida, Spain.
(2) Universitatea "Alexandru I. Cuza", Romania.

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