There is a common misconception and worry among people who migrate to a country where a different language is spoken that if they do not use their first language, they will lose it. This phenomenon is known as first language attrition.

Well, the good news is that research does not support this myth, but it reveals that the effects of first language attrition are not permanent and can be reversed with exposure to language input. So migrants can be encouraged to learn and get immersed in the second language without the fear of losing their native language or identity!

Watch this space for our upcoming research paper on the language learning challenges and needs of refugees and asylum seekers.

 

References to this research:

Chamorro, G., and Sorace, A. (2019). The Interface Hypothesis as a Framework for Studying L1 Attrition (Chapter 4). In M. S. Schmid and B. Köpke (Eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Language Attrition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780198793595

Chamorro, G., Sorace, A., and Sturt, P. (2016). What is the Source of L1 Attrition? The Effect of Recent L1 Re-exposure on Spanish Speakers under L1 Attrition. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 19(3), 520–532. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728915000152

Chamorro, G., Sturt, P., and Sorace, A. (2016). Selectivity in L1 attrition: Differential Object Marking in Spanish Near-Native Speakers of English. Journal of Psycholinguistics Research 45, 697-715. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10936-015-9372-4