The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

The Varying Relationship Between Perceived Oral and Written Mother Tongue Proficiency and Academic Performance in Native Multilingual Students at their Secondary School and University

Martin Dvorak, Södertörn University (Sweden)


The paper describes a study involving 53 Swedish native multilingual students whose objective was to track the relationship between their mother tongue oral and written proficiency as they themselves perceive it and their academic performance at two educational levels, i.e. secondary and tertiary. The study compares the students’ grade averages with the data obtained through questionnaires targeting their language proficiency and mother tongue use. The results show that while there is a positive correlation between the students’ degree of perceived proficiency (both written and oral) in the language originally spoken with their mother and their academic performance at their secondary school, this correlation seems to disappear once they enroll in their university studies. The paper also discusses one of the possible reasons for this phenomenon on the background of transitional perspective according to which native multilinguals benefit from their multilingualism when their parents have not completed their linguistic assimilation in the country they immigrated into yet and thus are still forced to use their own mother tongue when communicating with their children.


Native multilingualism, secondary school academic performance, university academic performance, transitional perspective, multiculturalism


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