Date of Award

Fall 12-15-2022

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Marlee Olson Schmidt


This study was a literature review, and it focused on native language attrition among immigrants. For many years, immigrant families have moved to places such as the United States and Europe as well as Canada because of war, abuse, persecution, environmental degradation, and poverty in their home countries. Once immigrant families arrived in their designated country, their children were placed in school. Due to the struggle with the language barrier, kids and adults quickly started to focus extensively on learning the English language.

The research occurred due to parents' raised concerns regarding their children's inability to communicate in their first language (L1) with families after learning English. Having worked with adult language learners at Project English and Giving Plus Learning, I witnessed the rise in parents' frustration, concern, and confusion when their children could no longer speak, formulate sentences, or enjoy conversation with relatives in their home language. These parents did not understand why their children constantly spoke in English and rejected their native tongue.

The literature review aimed to shed light on the significance of maintaining L1 among immigrants' families while learning and speaking English. The review brought together all the available resources related to my project topic in place, and the resources were evaluated closely. In the review, there were six essential themes divided into sections. Each chapter focused on the method and findings of the themes.

The research studies highlighted that L1 attrition could occur instantly when the L1 is not being utilized. The studies showed that age plays a vital role in L1 loss because the earlier children were exposed to the English language, the higher the possibility of L1 deterioration, particularly with children who began English from age three to seven. Older children who spoke the native language from birth to age 12 and then learned English continued communicating in the L1 much better. The studies further pointed out that the English immersion environment helped immigrants practice and improve their communication in the L2. However, the L1 was hindered because immigrants' children had less opportunity to speak in the and more in L2 as if it was their L1.



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