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Past CAL Presentations

American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2012 Annual Meeting

April 13 – 17, 2012
Vancouver, BC
Visit the conference website.

The Contribution of Spanish Cognate Knowledge to the Literacy Development of Latino Students
in the U.S.

Research on the acquisition of first-language reading skills has demonstrated a strong relationship between knowledge of word meaning and ability to comprehend passages containing those words (Anderson & Freebody, 1981). While much less is known about how English language learners become fluent readers at advanced levels, a recent review of experimental and quasi-experimental studies by the National Literacy Panel (August & Shanahan, 2006) emphasizes the importance of vocabulary knowledge in English and Spanish for Latino students’ continued success in reading development beyond third grade. When it comes to English words derived from Latin, Spanish-speaking students may be able to use their knowledge of Spanish vocabulary to unlock the meaning of academic words in English, as these words often have close Spanish cognates which generally are high-frequency words in Spanish and low-frequency words in English (e.g., encounter, in Spanish encontrar, the equivalent of to find or meet in English). A study conducted with 230 middle school students in the U.S. examined the effects of English and Spanish cognate knowledge on reading comprehension in English. Controlling for the effects of English vocabulary and student background characteristics, knowledge of Spanish cognates was found to have a significant and positive effect on English reading comprehension as measured by a standardized assessment of reading ability (i.e., Gates MacGinitie Reading Test). These findings highlight the role that the Spanish language plays in meeting the academic needs of Latino students in the U.S. and provide support for research that indicates that a strong foundation in the native language facilitates second-language development (Cummins, 1984; Oller & Eilers, 2002).

Presenter: Igone Arteagoitia

The Development of Vocabulary and Comprehension in Spanish-Speaking English-Language Learners (ELLs)
It is well established that vocabulary is a critical component of literacy development and that many children, particularly second language learners, lack the academic vocabulary necessary to comprehend school texts (August & Shanahan, 2006). One promising approach for developing the vocabulary of native Spanish speakers in particular is to focus on cognates (August, Carlo, Dressler, & Snow, 2005). This intervention study extends the work of previous cognate studies by comparing the effects of an intervention delivered solely in English as a general academic vocabulary curriculum vs. delivered through English and Spanish as a cognate curriculum, with explicit connections made across languages.

Presenters: Igone Arteagoitia, Liz Howard

Technology-Based Resources in Instruction of K-12 English Learner Students
There is only limited research on the use of technology-based resources (TBRs) in instruction of English learner (EL) students. This paper reports findings from an exploratory study based on interviews conducted with district administrators, mainstream teachers, English as a second language teachers, and technology coaches in eight school districts. The interviews focused on three questions: What types of technology-based resources are used for instruction of EL students? For what goals and in what ways are these resources used? What factors affect teachers’ use of technology? Findings are reported in terms of four categories of technology-based resources defined in the study.

Presenters: Annette M. Zehler, Yesim Yilmazel-Sahin, Lindsey Massoud, Sarah Moore, Chengbin Yin, Kat Kramer


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