Language Ability and Social Withdrawal: Ratings of English Language Learning Children's Withdrawn Behavior in Native and Nonnative Language Contexts
Ash, Andrea Christine
University of Kansas
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This study is one of the first investigations of withdrawn behavior in English language learning (ELL) children. Children with communication difficulties are known to have increased levels of withdrawn behavior. Withdrawn behavior, particularly shyness, has been associated with negative developmental outcomes. The purpose of this study was to determine if ELL children's withdrawn behaviors, principally shyness and unsociability, increased as a result of communication barriers in an English speaking context. Thirty-four ELL children, thirty-seven native English (NE) speaking children, and seventy-one parents participated in the study. Children were administered the PPVT-4, the EVT-2, a hypothetical peer judgment task, and a questionnaire regarding their own social behavior. Parents were administered two questionnaires, one addressing their child's social behavior and another addressing their child's language abilities. Results indicated that overall, children in the ELL and NE had similar ratings for shy and unsociable behavior of hypothetical peers. This finding supported the use of shy and unsociable subtypes of withdrawn behavior as recognizable constructs between the two groups of children. In the ELL group, child and parent ratings of the child's shy and unsociable behaviors were elicited across native language and English speaking contexts. Results from the ELL children and their parents indicated that ratings of shyness increased in English speaking contexts compared to their native language context. Ratings of unsociability in the ELL children did not change across language context. An investigation of the similarity of child and parent ratings found that ELL children and their parents had similar ratings of the child's withdrawn behavior. Child ratings of withdrawal in the NE group were significantly different than the parent ratings. A comparison of child ratings of withdrawn behavior in the native language of the ELL and NE groups found significant differences in ratings of shyness and unsociability. The results from this study demonstrated the value of investigating shyness and unsociability as differing constructs of withdrawn behavior. Additionally the results indicated that ratings of shyness for ELL children increase when the child is participating in English speaking contexts. Future research is needed to address the impact of this finding.
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