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Lutz article on biliterate boys and grades in English published in Ethnic and Racial Studies

Jan 7, 2009

Amy Lutz

Amy Lutz

In the United States, children of immigrants face strong pressures to shift to English. The authors examine how the retention of Spanish-language skills affects the academic achievement of English-proficient Latino/a children of immigrants and how this varies by gender. Further, they examine the role that family interaction may play in mediating the impact of gender and language on achievement.

The authors find that biliterate boys significantly outperform boys who have little Spanish proficiency. However, for girls there is no significant advantage or disadvantage to biliteracy in terms of GPA (grade point average). The authors' results suggest that, for Latino boys, the academic advantage of biliteracy is explained by strong family social cohesion. Their results also suggest that, while within-family social capital provides a scholastic benefit from family social cohesion in the case of biliterate boys, strong family ties can also have academic disadvantages.