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!
We have also explored the language learning experiences, challenges, and motivations of refugees and asylum seekers, which has led to a number of implementations to support the language learning of refugees and asylum seekers, such as the development of English courses and resources. And check out our sister project at https://refuteach.com/!
Our research has also investigated the cognitive and social benefits of second language exposure for children.
References to this research:
Chamorro, G., Garrido Hornos, M. C. and Vazquez Amador, M. (2021). Exploring ESOL teachers’ perspectives on the language learning experiences, challenges, and motivations of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching. doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/iral-2020-0155
Chamorro, G. and Janke, V. (2020). Investigating the bilingual advantage: The impact of L2 exposure on the social and cognitive skills of monolingually-raised children in bilingual education. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. doi: 10.1080/13670050.2020.1799323
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