DeLSS Development of Literacy in Spanish Speakers

A Project Sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
and the Institute of Education Sciences of the Department of Education

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Oracy/Literacy Development in Spanish-Speaking Children

Principal Investigator: David Francis
Institution: University of Houston
City/State: Houston, TX

This five-year program project contains an administrative core, a data/statistical analysis core, and five projects to develop assessments and study 1,600 children on one occasion, and 1,440 children longitudinally. The longitudinal sample will come from 144 classrooms in K- grade 3, in urban California and Texas and in rural Texas. The project will examine relations among characteristics of students, teachers, instruction, schools, and communities as they relate to academic achievement under four different program models: English language immersion, early and late exit transitional bilingual education, and dual language. The research will include measurement development and validation, standardized tests as well as those developed by the investigators (convergent measures), and quantifiable measures of classroom observation of teaching methods, as well as interviews of parents, teachers, principals, and community leaders, and randomized studies of English- and Spanish-language pull-out interventions for children at-risk for reading failure. In addition to the University of Houston, participating institutions include the University of Texas-Houston, the University of Texas-Austin, California State University-Long Beach, Temple University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Acquiring Literacy in English

Principal Investigator: Diane August
Institution: Center for Applied Linguistics
City/State: Washington, DC

This five-year program project contains an administrative core, a data/statistical analysis core, and three projects. Project one will study 300 four-year-old Spanish-English bilingual children and 100 four-year-old monolingual Spanish-speaking children, with more intensive study of subsamples of each group. The project seeks to develop and pilot measures and to study longitudinally the relationship between growth in language skills in the two languages, to gain predictive and descriptive information about the relationship between the home and school environments, and to understand differences between the literacy process for monolingual and bilingual children. Project two will explore the role of the mother tongue in the development of English reading competencies in Spanish-speaking children by studying fourth and fifth grade students' performance in Spanish reading, English reading, and metalinguistic awareness of phonology and morphology. This project will also study teacher implementation and develop materials for classroom use. Project three is a longitudinal investigation of spelling in Spanish-English bilingual children from grades 2 to 5 that seeks to identify factors that explain high levels of transfer from Spanish spelling to English spelling, and to determine the relationships between English spelling skills and English reading ability in bilingual children. In addition to the Center for Applied Linguistics, participating institutions are Harvard University and the Johns Hopkins University.

Bilingual Early Language and Literacy Support

Principal Investigator: Mark Innocenti
Institution: Utah State University
City/State: Logan, UT

This multisite, longitudinal, comparative study will test the language and emergent literacy outcomes of Spanish-speaking/bilingual children who either are (1) enrolled in an early childhood program that includes English exposure/immersion, a high quality language/literacy preschool environment, and home language and literacy support or are (2) in a community where there are limited early childhood experiences The project will include 192 Spanish-speaking mother-child dyads from the rapidly growing Spanish-speaking population in Utah, half from each of two different communities. The dyads will be followed beginning at ages 1, 2, or 3 until entry into kindergarten, using a rich set of outcome measures. A number of research questions have been identified that will guide analyses and provide information important to the field regarding the language and literacy experiences of low-income Spanish-speaking children and the specific effects of an extensive early childhood intervention.

Bilingual Preschoolers: Precursors to Literacy

Principal Investigator: Carol Hammer
Institution: Pennsylvania State University
City/State: University Park, PA

This project is a prospective longitudinal study of the language acquisition, literacy development, and home environment of 100 Head Start children of Puerto Rican descent from ages 4 to 6 years: 50 acquiring Spanish and English sequentially and 50 acquiring the two languages simultaneously. An in-depth study will be made of a subset of 24 children. The project seeks to identify patterns of bilingual language acquisition and characteristics of the home environment that result in better literacy abilities and to identify specific factors that can be used to target interventions for children at risk for difficulties in developing literacy skills.

Predicting English Literacy in Spanish-Speaking Children

Principal Investigator: Franklin Manis
Institution: University of Southern California
City/State: Los Angeles, CA

The investigator has developed a battery of tests in Spanish that has already been given to 330 kindergartners in fall 1998 and spring 1999. These children will be retested in Spanish at the end of kindergarten, tested at the end of first grade in both Spanish and English, and at the end of second and third grades in measures of English literacy. Analyses will focus on whether predictors of reading and writing in English are the same for the bilingual sample as for previous studies of English monolingual children, and comparisons of the best predictors of both Spanish and English literacy will be made.

Latino Children as Family Translators: Links to Literacy

Principal Investigator: Alexandra Orellana
Institution: Northwestern University
City/State: Evanston, IL

This investigator will study fifth and sixth grade Latino children who act as English translators for Spanish-speaking family members and explore how this activity affects the literacy development of those children. Specifically, the study will examine strategies used when translating in daily life situations, to determine which of them also are or could be used in reading and writing tasks in school. It is possible that some of these strategies might be used with other English language learners to maximize success in the acquisition of English literacy and more generally in mastering academic tasks.

Predictors of Reading in Spanish-Speaking Children

Principal Investigator: Alexandra Gottardo
Institution: Grand Valley State University
City/State: Allendale, MI

This study uses a longitudinal design to study two cohorts of Spanish-speaking children, one from preschool into first grade and one from kindergarten into second grade, to study predictors of English reading skill development. The study will use measures of phonological awareness, pseudoword repetition, rapid naming of objects and numbers, syntactic processing, letter naming, and orthographic processing.

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