Mittwoch, 14. Februar 2018

Educational selectivity and language acquisition among recently arrived immigrants

Lecture within the MAD Colloquium series by Cornelia Kristen
Paper Presentation

In this article, we investigate destination language skills upon arrival and subsequent skill growth among recently arrived Polish and Turkish immigrants in Germany, Great Britain and Ireland. We introduce selectivity considerations to a model of language acquisition, arguing that positively selected individuals should display higher levels upon arrival and faster growth in destination language proficiency thereafter. For the empirical study, we supplement data from the two wave panel study /Socio-Cultural Integration Processes of New Immigrants in Europe/ with a relative measure of immigrants’ educational attainment that is based on individuals’ position in the regionalized as well as gender and age-specific educational distribution of the country of origin. Contrary to our expectations, the cross-sectional results show that, upon arrival, positively selected immigrants are less proficient in the destination language holding absolute levels of educational attainment constant. In addition, they do not benefit more than negatively selected immigrants from pre-migration investments in language learning. In terms of language skill growth, however, our longitudinal findings suggest that positively selected migrants, net of differences in pre-migration investments, post-migration exposure and incentives, acquire the destination language faster than negatively selected immigrants. Despite having lower skills at arrival, they surpass negatively selected immigrants relatively quickly.

Prof. Dr. Cornelia Kristen holds the Chair of Sociology and the Analysis of Social Structures at the University of Bamberg, and is head of the Migration Pillar of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi), Bamberg. Her research focuses on migration and integration of immigrants, social stratification and inequality, sociology of education.