Links between local language competence and peer relations among Swiss and immigrant children: The mediating role of social behavior

Renate von Grünigen, Becky Ladd, Sonja Perren, Françoise D. Alsaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


The primary aim of this investigation was to evaluate a model in which children's social behaviors, including prosocial behavior, setting limits, and social withdrawal, were hypothesized to mediate the links between local language competence (LLC) and peer acceptance and victimization. Longitudinal data were collected via teacher and peer reports on 541 (286 boys and 255 girls) immigrant and Swiss native 5-to-6. year-old kindergarteners. Results showed the immigrant children were less fluent in the local language compared to native Swiss classmates. Moreover, results from structural equation models, with bootstrap tests of indirect effects, indicated that social behaviors mediated the link between LLC and the quality of children's peer relationships. Implications of these findings for school professionals are discussed, such as the need to help immigrant children make a smoother transition to their host communities by providing additional language and social supports while children acculturate and acclimate to their new surroundings and peer group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-213
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of School Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012



  • Immigration
  • Kindergarten
  • Language competence
  • Peer relations
  • Peer victimization
  • Social behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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