Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Anthony B. Rodriguez

Second Advisor

Natalie Byfield


The purpose of this study was to describe Indonesian language maintenance and English acquisition among Catholic Chinese-Indonesian immigrants in Philadelphia in the context of their acculturation. The research was conducted through a qualitative approach that included multiple interviews and observations of twenty participants within the theoretical framework of John Berry’s acculturation strategy, Ying’s domains of acculturation model and “human capital” model of English acquisition of Barry R. Chiswick and Paul W. Miller. Observations and interviews suggested that all of the participants have maintained Indonesian language by using it for communication with their family and their Indonesian fellows. Indonesian Catholic Community of Philadelphia has played a critical role not only in preserving Indonesian language but also other aspects of its culture such as foods, clothing, songs, dance, ethnic identity, ethnic bond, and cultural events.The research also found that the use of English in working place was the most determinant factor of English acquisition among the participants. The second factor was raising American-born children. The finding did not match with previous studies which argue that the age of entry and the length of stay are two most determinant factor of English acquisition. As such future research can examine thoroughly these differences by doing research with quantitative method on a broader scope or doing qualitative research on different participants. Related with acculturation, the research found that the English acquisition did not necessarily promote more cultural and social integration. All of the English-proficient participants preferred to socialize with Indonesian fellows rather than with Americans and also maintained Indonesian values in their family. It is open for future research to examine thoroughly about the issue. Culture has multi forms. Acquiring English as a part of integration does not mean acquiring other form of American culture and advancing socialization. The strategy of acculturation might be applied distinctively to a specific form of the culture. An immigrant might choose integration attitude for language but separation for other domain of American culture.

Available for download on Monday, January 26, 2026