Cultural, linguistic, and family factors' influence on the academic performance of junior high school Chinese-American students

Shu-Ya Zhang, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to determine how cultural, linguistic, and family factors influence the academic performance of Chinese-American students in the United States. The target population for this study were eight junior high school Chinese-American students attending a public school in New York City who came to this country 3 to 5 years ago. For this study, students were classified as "successful" or "unsuccessful" students. The "successful" students in the subject sample received a grade of 90 or above in reading, language arts, and math, and the "unsuccessful" students' scores in reading, language arts, and math were 70 or below. The sample population, chosen by random selection from a bilingual class with a total number of 28 students, consisted of 11 females and 17 males. Based upon the English proficiency level of the class (assessed through the Language Assessment Battery Test (LAB)), students are instructed in their native language, and receive English as a second language. All students participating in this investigation are Chinese with Chinese as their first language. The study attempted to observe, interview, and analyze students' school written works, and describe family factors that may have contributed to the students' academic success using a case study approach. Some of the conclusions of the study were: (1) The English language skill is the major problem for their academic performance. The English language does influence their school learning. (2) Chinese culture does have an impact on Chinese students in many ways. Chinese people, especially new immigrants, stick tightly to the Chinese community because of language barriers. (3) The "successful" students' parents gave more time and attention to their children than those "unsuccessful" students' parents. (4) Schools and education are very important. Parents care about their children's academic performances. (5) The attitude of the parents does help children to do better in school. Students are highly motivated by the encouragement of their parents. Parents' behavior has a tremendous influence on their children.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Language arts|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Zhang, Shu-Ya, "Cultural, linguistic, and family factors' influence on the academic performance of junior high school Chinese-American students" (1995). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9543466.