Do early literacy skills in children's first language promote development of skills in their second language? An experimental evaluation of transfer

J. Marc Goodrich, Christopher J. Lonigan, Jo Ann M. Farver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the cross-language transfer of the emergent literacy skills of preschoolers who were Spanish-speaking language-minority children in the context of an experimental intervention study. Ninety-four children were randomly assigned either to a control condition (HighScope Preschool Curriculum) or to receive small-group pull-out instruction (Literacy Express Preschool Curriculum) in English or initially in Spanish and transitioning to English. We examined whether children's initial skills in one language moderated the impact of the intervention on thosesame skills in the other language at posttest. Results demonstrated that for children in the English-only intervention condition, initial Spanish receptive vocabulary and elision skills moderated the impact of the intervention on English receptive vocabulary and elision skills at posttest, respectively. For children in the transitional intervention condition, initial English definitional vocabulary and elision skills moderated the impact of the intervention on Spanish definitional vocabulary and elision skills at posttest, respectively. Results for the vocabulary interactions supported the notion of transfer of specific linguistic information across languages, whereas results for the elision interaction for theEnglish-only intervention group comparisons supported language-independent transfer. Results for the elision interactionfor the transitional intervention group comparisons supported both language-independent and language-specific transfer. Implications for the theory of cross-language transfer of emergent literacy skills are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-426
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Volume105
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 9 2013

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Keywords

  • Emergent literacy
  • English language learners
  • Language minority
  • Transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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