Switching between Two Languages: Influences on Personality Adjustment and Acculturation among Nonnative English Speakers from Mainland China
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Research shows that individuals who speak English as a second language (ESL) adjust personality as a function of their ESL competence. A mixed-method design was used to examine whether Nonnative English speaking (NNES) Chinese individuals' well-being and acculturation can be influenced by their ESL competence and personality adjustment. Quantitatively, 223 valid surveys were collected from consented NNES individuals from Mainland China residing in Houston, Texas. Qualitatively, 30 participants from the pool of survey completers were interviewed using a phenomenological approach. With quantitative data support, "ESL-Self" was created as a construct to represent four groups of NNES categorized in terms of Awareness of Personality Adjustment (APA) and ESL competence (Group 1: Without APA and low ESL competence; Group 2: Without APA and high ESL competence; Group 3: With APA and low ESL competence; Group 4: With APA and high ESL competence). Further supported by qualitative data, these four ESL-Self groups were characterized as Separator, Learner, Worrier, and Integrator. MANOVA and multinomial regression results indicated significant overall acculturation differences among these four groups. Subjects who are younger, have positive acculturation, and have been in the U.S. longer are more likely to be classified as Integrator. Three types of language switching patterns were emerged as related to culture, peers, and stigma. Four themes were discovered to describe the personality adjustment process: no personality adjustment, personality regression, personality authenticity, and personality cultural adaptation. The implications were discussed with an emphasis on social work involvement in assessing ESL clients' needs and language competence.