The Integrative Model of Family Stress Underlying Spanish and English Vocabulary Development in Mexican American Children: Unique Effects of Financial and Sociocultural Hardships

Anna J. Yeo, Amanda M. Flagg, Betty Lin, Keith A. Crnic, Nancy A. Gonzales, Linda J. Luecken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Early oral language development lays an essential foundation for academic and socioemotional competencies but is vulnerable to the impact of family stress. Despite robust evidence that family stress affectsearly oral language development in monolingual samples, little is known about whether the family stressprocesses affecting language acquisition are similar among dual language learners. Furthermore,although Mexican American families often face stressors related to their ethnic minority and immigrantstatus, no studies to date have tested whether exposure to sociocultural stressors may likewise have negativeconsequences for early language acquisition. The present study examined whether financial andsociocultural stressors were associated with maternal stress perception, parenting sensitivity, and childSpanish and English receptive vocabulary at child age 3 and 4.5 years. Participants included 322 lowincomeMexican American mothers and their children followed from pregnancy through 4.5 years postnatal;most mothers preferred to speak Spanish (82%). Results of a path model indicated that linksbetween family stress and child receptive vocabulary varied by language (Spanish or English) and stresstype (financial or cultural). Specifically, Spanish acquisition was more closely related to the quality ofmother–child interactions, whereas English acquisition was more susceptible to the direct impact offamily stress. The consequences of family stress on children’s vocabulary acquisition were evident earlierin development for Spanish than English, and appeared more pronounced for financial versus socioculturalstressors. Findings underscore a need to attend to the impact of poverty on children’s Spanishand English language development in low-income, Mexican American children

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1880-1892
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Volume57
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bilingualism
  • Early language development
  • Family stress
  • Mexican american

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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