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EU-15 Immigrants Language Integration on Twitter

Beatriz Sofia BS Gil Clavel, Max Planck Institute for demographic Research
André Grow, University of Leuven (KU Leuven)
Maarten J. Bijlsma, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

The increasingly complex and heterogeneous immigrant-communities settling in Europe have led European countries to adopt civic-integration measures. Among these measures, language is regarded as a critical factor inducing integration and cooperation between immigrants and natives. Simultaneously, the rapid expansion of the use of online social networks is believed to change the factors that induce immigrants’ language acquisition. This article uses data from Twitter, a novel longitudinal-data source, to analyze: (1) the influences of different civic-integration regimes on language acquisition; and (2) the factors that affect language acquisition within those regimes. We focus on immigrants whose destination countries were in the EU-15 between 2012 and 2016. We study time until a user mostly tweets in the language of destination for one month, and we consider destination-country civic-integration measures as the primary exposure for the risk of acquiring the language. Preliminary results show that, first, countries with high requirements for language acquisition are the ones where immigrants have the lowest risk of language acquisition. Second, despite the use of social network sites language acquisition is still associated with classic explicative variables: number of Twitter-users from origin- and destination-country, linguistic-distance between origin- and destination-language, and geographical distance between origin- and destination-country.

Keywords: Cultural and linguistic demography, Big data / Social media, Politics and demography

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 193. Us vs Them: Cultural Assimilation and Anxieties in the Modern World