I speak, thus I belong? The role of second language proficiency in immigrants’ integration in the host society.

van Niejenhuis, C. Y., 2017, [Groningen]: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. 144 p.

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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  • Cornelia Ybeltje van Niejenhuis
The central question of this dissertation is: Does immigrants’ host country language learning go together with cultural integration and which factors facilitate or hinder this?
Determinants of cultural integration are immigrants’ identification with- and attitudes towards the host society. The research was conducted among immigrants in the Netherlands.
Firstly, we examined the factors that facilitate or hinder immigrants’ Dutch language proficiency in itself. Specifically we studied whether immigrants with certain background characteristics have a higher self-assessed Dutch language proficiency. Characteristics of relevance among the socially isolated immigrants we examined were for example age at migration and mother tongue proficiency. Unexpectedly, gender and migration motive seemed irrelevant.
Secondly, we examined whether immigrants’ Dutch language acquisition goes together with more cultural integration. In our longitudinal research among socially isolated immigrants, temporary immigrants (sojourners) and preadolescent immigrant children, only for the sojourners we found some support for this notion. In this group, Dutch language learning was accompanied by a higher extent of identification with the Dutch society.
Thirdly, we examined other factors which possibly influence the (supposed) relation between immigrants’ Dutch language learning and cultural integration. As expected, our research among sojourners indicated the relevance of multicultural personality traits. Only in sojourners who scored high on the trait ‘social initiative’, second language learning was accompanied by more positive attitudes towards the Dutch society. Contrary to our expectations, our research among preadolescent immigrant children provided no support for the relevance of friendships with Dutch in (the relation between) Dutch language acquisition and cultural integration.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
Award date9-Oct-2017
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs9789403499901
Electronic ISBNs9789403409900
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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