Predictors of Acculturation for Chinese Adolescents in Canada: Age of Arrival, Length of Stay, Social Class, and English Reading Ability

Article excerpt

In a sample of 506 Chinese adolescents living in Canada from 3 cohort groups, age at the time of arrival in Canada, length of stay in Canada, socioeconomic status, and English reading ability predicted acculturation. English reading ability and socioeconomic status predicted acculturative stress. There were within-group cohort differences in acculturation characteristics. Implications for counseling are addressed.

En una muestra de 506 adolescentes Chinos que viven en el Canada de 3 cohortes, la edad de Ilegada a Canada, el tiempo que vivieron en Canada, la posicion socioeconomica, y la habilidad de leer Ingles predice la asimilacion. La habilidad de leer Ingles y la posicion socioeconomica que pronostico el estres de asimilacion. Estaban entre grupos de cohorte diferentes en caracteristicas de asimilacion. Las implicaciones para terapia se dirigen.


Immigrant children and adolescents represent the fastest growing and most ethnically diverse segment of the child population in Canada and the United States since the 1980s (Zhou, 1997), yet they have remained one of the most understudied populations (Aronowitz, 1992). In particular, there is a paucity of research on the migration experiences and the psychological well-being of Chinese adolescent immigrants and teenage international students in North America (Chiu & Ring, 1998). Chinese in Canada are characterized by their relative youth, with more than a third (34%) of this population under the age of 24 in the year 2000. Against this backdrop, the present study examines the role of sociodemographic variables in predicting acculturation and acculturative stress in three cohorts of Chinese adolescents in Toronto, Ontario. Subsequently, implications and recommendations for the provision of counseling services and clinical interventions are discussed.

acculturation and acculturative stress among chinese immigrant adolescents

Acculturation is one of the most researched topics in understanding cross-cultural changes and migration experiences (Berry, 1997). Acculturation is defined as a process that begins with a firsthand contact between two autonomous cultural groups through which changes arise in either or both of the contacting groups (Redfield, Linton, & Herskovits, 1936). Acculturation research on Asian adolescents has focused on comparative experiences across generation or immigration status. Cross-national studies have revealed that first-generation Chinese adolescents hold a stronger identification with Chinese behaviors and values (less acculturation) than do their second-generation counterparts (Lay & Verkuyten, 1999; Rosenthal & Feldman, 1992). Ying, Lee, and Tsai (2000) found that foreign-born Chinese American students in the San Francisco Bay area were more likely to perceive racial discrimination, to take the cultural separation position, to associate primarily with their co-ethnic group, and to be either monolingual Chinese speakers or bilinguals. American-born Chinese were less likely to perceive racial discrimination but were more likely to take the assimilated or bicultural position, to be monolingual English speakers, and to associate with American or mixed ethnic groups.

A major consequence of acculturation involves acculturative stress. Acculturative stress is "a reduction in health status (including psychological, somatic, and social aspects) of individuals who are undergoing acculturation" (Berry, Kim, Minde, & Mok, 1987, p. 491). Acculturating Chinese immigrant adolescents not only face problems experienced by other nonimmigrant (e.g., native-born) youths associated with their developmental status (e.g., seeking individual identity and independence apart from the family; Rosenthal & Feldman, 1990) but also additional problems related to cultural differences with the host country and emotional adjustment to being away from the country of origin (Yeh, 2003; Ying, 2001). …