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Do you speak my language? The effect of sharing a teacher's native language on student achievement

Kelvin Seah

Southern Economic Journal, 2021, vol. 88, issue 1, 245-273

Abstract: Using a data set from the United States that allows each student to be matched with two of his/her subject teachers, this study exploits variation in whether the student shares the same native language as the teacher across two academic subjects, within‐student, to identify the effect of assignment to a teacher of the same native language. The effect is examined separately for students who are native Spanish speakers and for students who are native English speakers. I find that, unconditional on teacher ethnicity, assignment to a native Spanish‐speaking teacher is associated with worse achievement for native Spanish‐speaking students in certain subjects. However, once differences in teacher ethnicity are controlled for, these negative effects disappear. For native English‐speaking students, assignment to a language‐congruent teacher has no impact on achievement. There is evidence that native language affinity could be an important mechanism through which student‐teacher ethnic interactions work.

Date: 2021
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Working Paper: Do You Speak My Language? The Effect of Sharing a Teacher's Native Language on Student Achievement (2018) Downloads
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Handle: RePEc:wly:soecon:v:88:y:2021:i:1:p:245-273