Biliteracy and achievement of limited English proficient primary school children

Sara G Nahari, Fordham University

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between biliteracy and the academic achievement of limited English proficient primary school children. The study compared a bilingual transitional program and an earlier native language shelter education program and examined the outcomes at the end of the third grade.^ Subjects were 133 kindergarten, Spanish-speaking limited English proficient (LEP) students. Three cohort groups in each comparison and intervention group were tracked from entry into kindergarten until they exited third grade on their Spanish and English levels of proficiency. Language proficiency was defined by achievement measures of listening/speaking, reading and writing skills, both in English and Spanish, and in English reading comprehension in third grade.^ The intervention was designed to develop biliteracy skills in young LEP students through development of proficiency in speaking, understanding, reading, and writing in English and in the native language, coupled with teaching cognitive strategies, and a parental involvement component to mediate learning experiences to reinforce language development. The comparison group participated in a traditional transitional bilingual program designed primarily to develop the level of English proficiency needed to succeed in an English-only learning environment.^ No significant differences were apparent when a series of t tests and chi-square comparisons were conducted on the dependent variables English language proficiency and Spanish language proficiency in grade 1, and in English reading comprehension proficiency in grade 3. Significant differences were found in English oral language, reading, and writing in grade 1. In addition, significant differences were found in Spanish language proficiency in grade 2.^ The data from this study seem to suggest that at first, students who were taught using the biliteracy model tended to develop English oral language, reading, and writing skills at a slower rate than those students who were instructed in the bilingual transitional model; however, these differences diminished over long-term performance. Achievement in the native language was maintained by the intervention group in contrast to a relative decline in Spanish proficiency showed by the comparison group participating in the transitional bilingual model. Caution is recommended when interpreting these findings. ^

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Nahari, Sara G, "Biliteracy and achievement of limited English proficient primary school children" (1995). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9530955.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9530955

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