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VIAS Components
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Vocabulary Instruction and Assessment for Spanish Speakers (VIAS)

Funder: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

July 2007 – May 2012


The Vocabulary Instruction and Assessment for Spanish Speakers (VIAS) project is a 5-year program of research funded through grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The grants support research on the literacy and language development of Spanish-speaking English-language learners (ELLs) conducted by investigators at the Center for Applied Linguistics and its collaborators, Harvard University, Boston College, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Houston.

Our program of research is focused on the following goals:

  • Charting developmental trajectories in literacy and literacy-related language skills for children from Spanish-speaking homes and identifying the likely long-term skills outcomes for such children;

  • Examining developmental shifts in precursor and outcome variables related to literacy;

  • Examining domains of and conditions for transfer at different points in development;

  • Developing and evaluating methods to enhance vocabulary development for ELLs across the elementary grades;

  • Developing or modifying tools for assessing English and Spanish language and literacy skills, in particular vocabulary, and for characterizing key aspects of the classroom environment, teacher quality, and level of implementation of the interventions;

  • Contributing to theories of vocabulary development by articulating for what age children and under what conditions determinants of vocabulary learning identified in the literature on monolingual children are effective for second language learners; and

  • Contributing to theories of cross-language transfer by articulating the domains for which transfer occurs as well as the instructional conditions that promote its positive effects.

Visit our website to learn more.

VIAS Research Framework

The four subprojects and two cores of the VIAS research program share a common research framework, including a shared model for the development of word knowledge and comprehension skills by Spanish-speaking students learning English, common approaches to promoting word knowledge, and the use of linked methodologies.  Further information regarding the research framework is provided through the following links:

Learn more about the Common research framework behind the VIAS subprojects and cores

Relation of VIAS to prior CAL research

VIAS continues work conducted in a 5-year program of research, Acquisition of Literacy in English (ALE), in which the Center for Applied Linguistics and its collaborators, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Miami, and the University of Houston, studied the factors that predict Spanish-speaking children’s success in learning to read and write in English and the conditions that promote transfer of skills from one language to another. This research, conducted from 2000 to 2005, was one component of a larger research initiative, Development of Literacy in Spanish Speakers (DeLSS) which was jointly organized and funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Institute of Education Sciences of the Department of Education. Products from this research program include resources and researcher-developed assessments that are available to researchers through the Center for Applied Linguistics.

Visit the Acquiring Literacy in English Web site hosted by CAL to view the resources and researcher-developed assessments developed through the ALE studies.

Vocabulary Improvement and Assessment of Spanish-speakers is supported by Grant No. 2 P01 HD39530-06 A2  from the Eunice Kennedy Schriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and by Grant No. R305A070438 from the Institute of Education Sciences. However, the content of this Web site does not necessarily represent the positions or policies of these agencies, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

Visit the VIAS website.

Return to CAL's current project list.