Supporting Spanish–English Bilingual Language Development Among Latinx Dual Language Learners in early learning settings


Edyburn, K., Quirk, M., & Oliva-Olson, C. (2019). Supporting Spanish–English bilingual language development among latinx dual language learners in early learning settings. Contemporary school psychology, v23 n1 p87-100


Latinx dual language learners (DLLs) are a large and growing student body that continues to face educational adversities that contribute to the maintenance of a longstanding academic achievement gap. Previous research has documented that preschool attendance and development of home language skills in early childhood support the long-term academic and linguistic growth of DLLs; yet, relatively, little is known about how early childhood educators support bilingual language development in preschool and how such efforts impact bilingual proficiency. These are particularly salient questions, as emerging best practices to support DLLs identified in research may not be reaching educators with sufficient speed. The present mixed methods study examined the role of instructional and contextual factors in promoting English and Spanish language development among (N = 46) Latinx preschoolers. Qualitative phenomenological analyses were conducted to explore the nature of language instruction practices in Central California preschools. Analysis of covariance was used to determine if classroom characteristics, including culturally and linguistically responsive instruction practices and overall classroom quality, predict English and Spanish language proficiency at the end of the preschool year. Results suggest that language instruction practices may tend to be more reactive than systematic, and support findings that high overall instructional quality and application of targeted instructional supports for bilingual acquisition support the development of home language skills throughout the school year. The results reinforce the call for increased attention to bilingual language development in early childhood settings, especially through assessment, instruction models, and multi-tiered systems of support. School psychologists, who are trained on these topics, have a significant opportunity to collaborate with early childhood administrators and teachers to educate themselves further on DLLs’ early language development needs, help improve culturally and linguistically responsive instruction and assessment in early learning settings, and work to bridge the early childhood and K-12 systems to support DLLs’ ongoing development.

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