Early oral language and later reading development in Spanish-speaking English language learners

Evidence from a nine-year longitudinal study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Using nationally-representative, longitudinal data on a cohort of Spanish-speaking English language learners in the U.S., this study investigated the extent to which early oral language proficiency in Spanish and English predicts later levels and rates of growth in English reading. Latent growth models indicated that both Spanish and English proficiency in kindergarten predicted levels of English reading in third through eighth grade, but that only English proficiency was uniquely predictive. English productive vocabulary was found to be a better predictor of later English reading than more complex measures, i.e., listening comprehension and story retell, contrary to findings for native English speakers. Oral language did not predict later growth rates. Findings suggest the need for educational efforts to develop oral language during early childhood for this underserved population. Findings further suggest that such early efforts may be necessary, but insufficient to accelerate ELLs' reading trajectories as they move into adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-157
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Volume33
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2012

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Longitudinal Studies
Reading
Language
Growth
Vocabulary
Vulnerable Populations

Keywords

  • At-risk learners
  • Longitudinal studies
  • Oral language
  • Reading development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

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abstract = "Using nationally-representative, longitudinal data on a cohort of Spanish-speaking English language learners in the U.S., this study investigated the extent to which early oral language proficiency in Spanish and English predicts later levels and rates of growth in English reading. Latent growth models indicated that both Spanish and English proficiency in kindergarten predicted levels of English reading in third through eighth grade, but that only English proficiency was uniquely predictive. English productive vocabulary was found to be a better predictor of later English reading than more complex measures, i.e., listening comprehension and story retell, contrary to findings for native English speakers. Oral language did not predict later growth rates. Findings suggest the need for educational efforts to develop oral language during early childhood for this underserved population. Findings further suggest that such early efforts may be necessary, but insufficient to accelerate ELLs' reading trajectories as they move into adolescence.",
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