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Language Proficiency

  • By: Carla J. Reyes, Carrie Castañeda & Ana Montes de Vegas
  • In: Encyclopedia of Multicultural Psychology
  • Edited by: Yo Jackson
  • Subject:Multi-Cultural Counseling, Ethnic Studies, Cross-Cultural Psychology

More than 300 different languages are spoken in the United States. Among the 47 million U.S. residents who speak a language other than English, most speak Spanish. Yet many states have passed English-only laws so that public services and state forms are less accessible to individuals who have limited English proficiency. In addition, a politically active effort exists to make English the official language of the United States.

Language proficiency can be defined as the ability to say what you want to say in the manner you want to say it and to be comfortable that you said it appropriately. Language is not merely the expression of words; rather, it integrates reading comprehension, writing ability, verbal comprehension, expressive ability, and cultural knowledge.

Immigrant children enter the school ...

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