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Students speaking native language do well

Sept. 21, 2011 at 7:26 PM   |   Comments

COLUMBIA, Mo., Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Mexican-American students speaking their native language have higher grades than those in English-only environments in U.S. schools, a researcher says.

"I understand the reasons behind English-only efforts, but the research shows that if we don't accept the cultural identity of these students in our schools, such as tolerating their native language, Mexican-Americans may not succeed," says David Aguayo, a doctoral student in the Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology at the University of Missouri.

"A real educational disparity exists because Mexican-Americans, along with other Latinos, are now the largest minority yet they still have the lowest high school and college graduation rates," Aguayo said in a UM release Wednesday.

Aguayo surveyed 408 Mexican-American students, recording whether they were born in the United States or Mexico, their grade point averages and their ability to perform college-related tasks. He found students who embraced their cultural heritage and spoke in their native languages had higher grade point averages than those who only spoke English while in school and at home.

"It's a simple correlation, but living and learning within your cultural heritage is a benefit," Aguayo said. "The stress level of being in a new culture will decrease if these students have a support system in school, while they are adjusting to other cultures."

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