Learning a New Land: Immigrant Students in American Society

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Overview

One child in five in America is the child of immigrants, and their numbers increase each year. Very few will return to the country they barely remember. Who are they, and what America do they know?

Based on an extraordinary interdisciplinary study that followed 400 newly arrived children from the Caribbean, China, Central America, and Mexico for five years, this book provides a compelling account of the lives, dreams, and frustrations of these youngest immigrants. Richly told portraits of high and low achievers are packed with unexpected ironies. When they arrive, most children are full of optimism and a respect for education. But poor neighborhoods and dull—often dangerous—schools can corrode hopes. The vast majority learn English—but it is the English of video games and the neighborhood, not that of standardized tests.

For some of these children, those heading off to college, America promises to be a land of dreams. These lucky ones have often benefited from caring mentors, supportive teachers, or savvy parents. For others, the first five years are marked by disappointments, frustrations, and disenchantment. How can we explain their varied academic journeys?

The children of immigrants, here to stay, are the future—and how they adapt will determine the nature of America in the twenty-first century.

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Editorial Reviews

Cookie
This book offers the results of a five-year study that followed 400 children from China, Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico, all newly arrived in the United States. These kids' struggles are so poignant. The statistics are amazing, too: One of every five children in America is the child of an immigrant, and one in five immigrant children has only one native English-speaking friend.
— Nell Casey
San Francisco Chronicle

[Learning a New Land] examines how the children of immigrants are doing in American schools. It's a discouraging picture, and should be a wake-up call to anyone who cares about education.
Josh Green

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674026759
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/15/2008
  • Pages: 440
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Carola Suárez-Orozco is Professor of Applied Psychology and Co-Director of Immigration Studies at New York University.

Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco is Courtney Sale Ross University Professor of Globalization and Education and Co-Director of Immigration Studies at New York University.

Irina Todorova is an international health psychology consultant in Boston.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Long View on Immigrant Students     1
Academic Engagement and Performance     30
Networks of Relationships     55
Less-Than-Optimal Schools     88
The Challenge of Learning English     146
Portraits of Declining Achievers     167
Portraits of Low Achievers     228
Portraits of Improvers     261
Portraits of High Achievers     296
Conclusion: Immigration Policy Dilemmas     359
Notes     379
References     394
Acknowledgments     414
Index     419
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