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The home literacy environment and the English narrative development of Spanish-English bilingual children


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of the home literacy environment (HLE) on the English narrative development of Spanish-English bilingual children from low-income backgrounds. Method: Longitudinal data were collected on 81 bilingual children from preschool through 1st grade. English narrative skills were assessed in the fall and spring of each year. Microstructure measures included mean length of utterance in morphemes and number of different words. The Narrative Scoring Scheme (Heilmann, Miller, Nockerts, & Dunaway, 2010) measured macrostructure. Each fall, the children's mothers reported the frequency of literacy activities and number of children's books in the home. Growth curve modeling was used to describe the children's narrative development and the impact of the HLE over time. Results: Significant growth occurred for all narrative measures. The HLE did not affect microstructure growth. The frequency with which mothers read to their children had a positive impact on the growth of the children's total Narrative Scoring Scheme scores. Other aspects of the HLE, such as the frequency with which the mothers told stories, did not affect macrostructure development. Conclusions: These results provide information about the development of English narrative abilities and demonstrate the importance of frequent book reading for the overall narrative quality of children from Spanish-speaking homes who are learning English. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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