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  • This article was downloaded by: [Tufts University]On: 27 October 2014, At: 06:53Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK

    Bilingual Research Journal:The Journal of the NationalAssociation for BilingualEducationPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ubrj20

    The Role of Socioeconomicand Sociocultural Factors inLanguage Minority Children'sDevelopment: An EcologicalResearch ViewVirginia Gonzlez aa University of CincinnatiPublished online: 22 Nov 2010.

    To cite this article: Virginia Gonzlez (2001) The Role of Socioeconomic andSociocultural Factors in Language Minority Children's Development: An EcologicalResearch View, Bilingual Research Journal: The Journal of the National Association forBilingual Education, 25:1-2, 1-30, DOI: 10.1080/15235882.2001.10162782

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15235882.2001.10162782

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  • The Role of Socioeconomic and SocioculturalFactors in Language Minority Children's Development:

    An Ecological Research View

    VirginiaGonzalezUniversity ofCincinnati

    Abstract

    The purpose of this ar ticle is to critically review contemporaryliterature on externalfactors influencing language minoritychildren 'sdevelopm ent. This article merges literature from separate modules,stemming from researchers within a developmental psychologyand an ethn ic minorit y perspective. The first section present s anovcrarching multidimen sional mod el for under st and ing theimportance ofan ecological perspective to the study ofdevelopmentin language minority children . This first section present s a contextfor the second section on socioecono mic sta tus (SES) factors, andfor the third section onsociocultura lfactors influencing developmen tin language min orit y children. Th is arti cle clo ses by presentin gsome recomm endations for much-needed research for broadeningour current understanding of the int eracting effect of SES,sociocultura l. and other medi ating factors (i .e ., bio log ica l,psychological) on developmental and educ ational achieve mentlevels attained by language minority children' s development.

    Purpose and Objective

    The purpo se of this article is to critically review cont emp orary literatureon external or contextual factors influencing language minority children' sdevelopm ent , bringing together literature from separate modul es, stemmingfrom researchers within: (a) a developmental psychology perspective, withtraditi onal methodological paradigms that fail to repre sent the cultural andlingui stic backgrounds of langu age minority children stud ied; and (b) anethnic minority per spective, with alternative qualitati ve measu res andmethodological procedures that tap the cultural and linguistic diversity oflanguage minority students (see Gonzalez & Yawkey, 1993; Gonzalez, Brusca-

    Role of Socioeconomic and Sociocultural Factors

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  • Vega, & Yawkey, 1997, for further discussion ofthe ethnic research perspecti ve).More specifically, this manuscript has the objective ofbringing together thesetwo separate modules of research by presenting a state-of-the-art theoreticalparadigm. This model is supported by contemporary research literature, whichendorses an ecological and multidimensional view of language minoritychildren's development.

    Research evidence examines two ofthe most important overarching factorsthat have been demonstrated to significantly influence language minoritychildren's development. The socioeconomic status (SES) oflanguage minoritychildren's families arches as the first factor. In contemporary literature, SESencompasses much more than parental income, which has been traditionallyconsidered as an exclusive index. In modem literature, SES has been expandedto include the study of the educational level of parents, degree of literacy ofparents, parental occupation, and to give attention even to neighborhoodquality and community resources. Emphasis is given to critically reviewingthe literature, specifically examining the effect oflow SES on minority children 'sachievement levels and future economic productivity during adulthood.

    The influence of sociocultural factors on language minority children'sdevelopment is the second significant factor analyzed. Contemporary studiesconsider the home and family structure as an omnibus variable representingnumerous sub-variables (e.g., number of siblings, birth order, child rearingpractices, value and belief systems held by parents, immigration status ofparents, family mobility, and parents' number ofyears of U.S. residence). Asthere are numerous sub-variables represented in modem literature studyingsociocultural factors, this critical review emphasizes the effect of the languageused at home by parents and siblings on language minority children'sdevelopment and achievement.

    Thus, three sections are included in this article. The first section presentsan overarching multidimensional model for understanding the importance ofan ecological perspective to the study of development in language minoritychildren. This first section serves to provide a context for both the secondsection on SES factors, and for the third section on sociocultural factorsinfluencing development in language minority children. This article presentssome concluding remarks in relation to the state-of-the-art research conductedon language minority children's development from an ecological andmultidimensional framework . Some concluding recommendations are madefor much needed research for broadening our current understanding of theinteracting effect of SES, sociocultural, and other mediating factors (i.e.,biological, psychological) on language minority children 's development.

    2 Bilingual Research Journal, 25:1 &2 Winter & Spring 2001

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  • Multidimensional Model for Understanding MinorityChildren's Development

    Co nte mporary researchers endo rse developmental and eco logica l modelsthat tak e into consid eration multidimensional variables stemm ing from theinteractio n of intern al and ex te rnal factors. Th e use of thi s mult id imension alapproa ch results in more complex research methods and strategies that allowto st udy (a) high er level th inking and problem -sol ving proc esses, and (b)developmental trends with more elabo rated co ntro l for cont extual factors andindi vidual di fferen ces (through the combination of longitud inal and cro ss-sec tiona l strateg ies resulting in sequential studies) . For instance, Garcia Coil( 1990) proposed that the tran saction between the organi sm s or psychologicalvariables present within the chi ld and the co ntex tua l sys tem is very dynam ic .More speci fica lly, she highlighted the interaction of at-risk biological factors(e .g ., prem aturity), social at-r isk factors (i.e., low SES), and cultura l factors(e .g ., min orit y va lues and beliefs, child-re ar ing techniques, caretaker s 'beh aviors, pa rent s' perceptions and de velopmental goals).

    In addition, thi s tra nsac tion amo ng biologi cal , soc ial, and cultura l fact ors(representing interacti on s between intern al and ext ernal fac tors) may createeffec tive. or ineffect ive, home en vironments for minority chi ldren to becomeresil ient or at risk of developing learning problems. Ma sten and Coatsworth( 1998), in try ing to shed light on the particular interaction s resulting in eitherresil ience or at-ris k situations for language minority students, conducted adata-based study, and co nclude d that:

    Chi ldren who have goo d internal and external resources tend to ge toff to a good start in school . .. [wh ereas] Childre n who enter schoo lwith few resources, cogn itive diffi culti es, and self-regulator