U.S. immigrants who learn to speak English tend to be healthier than those who speak only their native tongue, according to new Rice University research.
The study, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, found people with strong English and native language skills report better physical and mental health than unilingual immigrants.
To reach their conclusions, researchers examined the health of more than 4,649 U.S. immigrants from China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
"Our research suggests that English proficiency gained at the expense of native-language fluency may not be beneficial for overall health status," said Rice alumna, a study researcher. "It's very important for the immigrants to hold on to their native language in addition to learning English."
The findings suggest immigrants who learn English may be in a better position to communicate better with others here, which may help them navigate the health care system.