Most studies of heritage language maintenance have reported a steep attrition in heritage language use among the 1.5 and 2nd generation children of immigrants, in particular among East Asian groups. However, not much is known about the role of heritage languages and the patterns of language maintenance within refugee communities. This study focuses on heritage language use and maintenance among 1.5 generation Khmer college students. The findings show that Khmer students report a high frequency of heritage language use within the home with their parents as well as outside of the home with their co-ethnic peers. The data reveal that oral proficiency in Khmer is significantly more developed than literacy skills and is a necessity for bridging communication with parents and participating in co-ethnic peer social networks. The results of the study also indicate that these students development of English oral and literacy skills were significantly higher than their heritage language skills suggesting a similar trajectory of language loss similar to other immigrant groups, but perhaps at a slower rate.
Lao, Ravy S. and Lee, Jin Sook
"Heritage Language Maintenance and Use among 1.5 Generation Khmer College Students,"
Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement: Vol. 4
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/jsaaea/vol4/iss1/3