by Julia McGurk
If you grew up in California, the chances are you went to school with someone who would be categorized as Generation 1.5, and the chances are that you wouldn’t be able to pick them out from students who spent their whole lives in the US speaking English. In fact you have probably never heard the term.
Who is Generation 1.5? The term is used to describe students who are neither first nor second generation immigrants - hence, 1.5. They live somewhere between those two traditional terms and have a broad range of characteristics.
Generation 1.5 students could have been born here, but do not speak English at home with their parents. They might have moved to the US some time during the K-12 system from a non-English speaking country, or may have moved here from US territories where they grew up speaking a different first language. Depending on when they moved to the US, Generation 1.5ers may have limited literacy in their first language and also have limited English, especially for academic purposes. Again it depends on their education and cultural background, not to mention their home life.
In the video below, a student talks about how Generation 1.5 students feel lost between two cultures, not really belonging to either of them. (This is a conversation I’ve had in the past with so many Generation 1.5 students and clearly his classmates agree with him, judging by the finger snapping in the background.)