Harvard University will describe the home language- and literacy-related experiences of Head Start children growing up in bilingual (English/Spanish) or Spanish-dominant families and the effects of these experiences on children's literacy-related skills. The primary research questions will be (a) How is language used during mother-child activities in bilingual or Spanish-dominant families? (b) Do bilingual families also use some of the language techniques previously found in English-speaking homes that influence literacy and language development in English? and (c) When controlling for family demographics and school factors, what is the effect of mothers' language use and behaviors on children's literacy-related skills? Participants will be 51 families in which Spanish is spoken at home (n=12 bilingual, n=39 Spanish-dominant) with a 4-year-old Head Start child. The data will consist of a home interview, an audio recording of three mother-child activities, and maternal vocabulary tests. Mothers will be observed reading to their children, completing a "homework" type activity, and interacting with their children during mealtime. A vocabulary test will also be administered to the mothers in both Spanish and English. The data will then be transcribed and coded using the Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES). The researchers expect to further Head Start's mission of serving underprivileged children by discovering the specific needs of Latino bilingual children. A further result will be the development of the Home-Language Status Scale, which will provide a measure of language status that can be used by other Head Start researchers.
Administration for Children and Families/OPRE Projects