Language Proficiency and Cultural Identity as Two Facets of the Acculturation Process

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Abstract

This article describes a cross-cultural study comparing bicultural identity of first generation Poles and high school students in the Rhône Alpes region (France), as well as French language university students in Poland. Studies show that two components, language and identity, are related. This article intends to answer questions regarding the relationship between the migrant’s bicultural identity and language proficiency. Bilingualism is operationalized as (i) listening comprehension and (ii) bidirectional translation. The results do not confirm that there is a relation between bilingual skills and identification with shared French and Polish values. Cultural identity appears to be inversely related to country of residence: Polish identity is strongest amongst immigrant youth in France and French identity is strongest amongst Polish students of French language and culture. These identities run in opposite direction to language competencies. The results suggest internalization of one of the cultures' negative stereotypes towards the other or towards itself.

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