The effects of using flashcards to develop automaticity with key vocabulary words for students with and without learning disabilities enrolled in a high school Spanish course
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of using flashcards to develop automaticity (rapid word recognition) with key vocabulary words and phrases in order to improve fluency and reading comprehension skills for participants with and without diagnosed learning disabilities enrolled in a high school Spanish course. Eighty-seven students without learning disabilities and six students with learning disabilities (n = 93), all between 16 and 18 years of age, (sample of convenience) were given single-word and phrase training within the context of the curriculum. Participants learned to decode key words and phrases quickly and accurately in Spanish using flashcards. Once training was determined to be sufficient, as measured through Curriculum-Based Measures (CBM's), reading comprehension scores were then obtained through end-of-unit exams. One-Way Within Subjects ANOVA/Mean analysis was conducted to explore the differences between rapid word decoding rates and reading comprehension scores. ANOVA (p<.05) analyses comparing the CBM's of automaticity (administered just prior to the exams) with end-of-unit comprehension exams found no statistically significant difference between the two. Results suggest that an emphasis on the development of automaticity (rapid word recognition), within the context of the curriculum, benefits all students of foreign language study. The findings indicated that students with learning disabilities were able to achieve comprehension rates comparable to students without learning disabilities as a result of the intervention.