Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Modern Languages


Modern Languages

First Advisor

Tamara Warhol

Second Advisor

Felice Coles

Third Advisor

Larissa Warhol

Relational Format



Since the 20th century, particularly post-1965, there has been rapid growth in the Korean-American population in the U.S. The number of 1.5 generation Korean-Americans has also increased. 1.5 generation Korean-Americans can take advantage of learning both languages and cultures in the two countries which can help them become bilingual and bicultural individuals. However, previous studies about the language experience and identity of Korean-Americans have mainly focused on the first or second-generations (Kang, 2013; M. Park, 2005) rather than 1.5 generations. Some of these studies have focused more on children at an early age (E. S. Park, 2005; Zhou, 1997) instead of young adults. This research was conducted with seven 1.5 generation Korean-American young adults, between 18 and 30 years old, in order to explore the attitude and behavior of their bilingualism and biculturalism through their exposure to dual cultural environments. This study sought to examine the formation of identity for 1.5 generation Korean-American young adults through the maintenance of their native language while learning English, as well as certain acculturation experiences. The researcher administered questionnaires to participants to collect information about their language background, language usages, and respective identities. A series of semi-structured interviews were conducted, and follow-up questions were asked based on the participants response to the questionnaire. This research showed bilingualism and biculturalism of 1.5 generation Korean-American young adults. Usage of the Korean and English language expanded the identity of the 1.5 generation Korean-American young adults after they came to the U.S. The acculturation experiences of 1.5 generation Korean-Americans affected their personal identities. They tended to identify as being Korean or Korean-American, as opposed to just being American. The findings of this research suggests that 1.5 generation Korean immigrants should be understood as a group in itself, not just as a group in between the first and second generation of Korean immigrants. It is recommended that rather than defining the term “1.5 generation Korean-Americans” by the age of arrival (AOA) in the U.S., other factors should be considered such as bilingual proficiency, memories of Korea, bicultural ability in both countries, and perception of their ethnic identity.



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