Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Developmental Psychology


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Alexandra Gottardo

Advisor Role


Second Advisor

Eileen Wood

Advisor Role

Thesis committee member

Third Advisor

Steve Sider

Advisor Role

Thesis committee member



Language attrition is a documented phenomenon that occurs when individuals progressively lose their first language (Schmid et al., 2007). This is particularly common among individuals who relocate to a country that speaks a foreign language that differs from their first language, as the societal language eventually becomes their dominant language. Deterioration and loss of the first language (L1) may result in consequences such as loss of ethnic and cultural identity, leading to the loss of a link to one’s country of origin (Cho & Krashen, 1998). Thus, the present study examined factors that may contribute to L1 attrition. The present study aimed to assess individuals’ L1 skills in relation to their cultural affiliation with their heritage and/or Canadian backgrounds after the participants emigrated from their home country to a foreign country (Canada). This study also looked at whether participants’ L1 skills are preserved if they are residing in a multigenerational household. Participants were instructed to complete a series of surveys that measured their receptive vocabulary size in English, levels of acculturation to the host culture, and language dominance. Participants were also scheduled for a one-on-one Zoom session to assess their verbal fluency in their L1 and English. Group comparisons based on age of arrival and being born in Canada showed differences in self-reports of L1 and L2 skills, enculturation and acculturation. Group differences were also found for groups based on whether or not participants attended school only in Canada or also in another country. Also group differences were found based on differences in language dominance as measured by the bilingual dominance scale. However, no effect was found for participants who lived in a multi-generational home and those who did not. This exploratory study may provide insight into the field of language development and literacy by showing a comprehensive relationship between L1 loss and acculturation.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season