Authors: Bedore LM, Peña ED, Fiestas C, Lugo-Neris MJ
Title: Language and Literacy Together: Supporting Grammatical Development in Dual Language Learners with Risk for Language and Learning Difficulties
Source: Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools 2020 51(2): 282-297
Year: 2020
Research Design: Case Series

Purpose: Early Interventions in Reading (Vaughn et al., 2006), the only literacy intervention with demonstrated effectiveness for U.S. dual language learners, was enhanced to support the development of oral language (vocabulary, grammar, and narrative) and literacy, which we refer to as "Language and Literacy Together." The primary focus of this study is to understand the extent to which grammatical skills of bilinguals with risk for language and/or reading difficulties improve in the Language and Literacy Together intervention. Method: Fifteen first-grade dual language learners with risk for language and/or reading difficulties participated in an enhanced version of Early Interventions in Reading in Spanish. Children completed pre- and postintervention evaluations in Spanish and English, including grammatical testing from the Bilingual English Spanish Oral Screener (Pena et al., 2008) and narrative evaluation Test of Narrative Language story prompts (Gillam & Pearson, 2004; Gillam et al., n.d.). Data from six comparison participants with typical language skills who completed pre- and posttesting demonstrate the stability of the measures. Results: The intervention group made gains in English and Spanish as evidenced by significant increases in their cloze and sentence repetition accuracy on the Bilingual English Spanish Oral Screener Morphosyntax subtest. They increased productivity on their narratives in Spanish and English as indexed by mean length of utterance in words but did not make gains in their overall grammaticality. Conclusions: Structured intervention that includes an emphasis on grammatical elements in the context of a broader intervention can lead to change in the production of morphosyntax evident in both elicited constructions and narrative productivity as measured by mean length of utterance in words. Additional work is needed to determine if and how cross-linguistic transfer might be achieved for these learners.

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