An examination of the vocabulary development of children who are dual language learners with a focus on the language environment and literacy practices in preschool classrooms
MAGDA LORENA PONCE, M.Ed.
AN EXAMINATION OF THE VOCABULARY DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN WHO ARE DUAL LANGUAGE LEARNERS WITH A FOCUS ON THE LANGUAGE ENVIRONMENT AND LITERACY PRACTICES IN PRESCHOOL CLASSROOMS MAY, 2021 ABSTRACT Teachers play a critical role in children’s education and language development that starts with early education. The purpose of this study was to examine relationships of the language and literacy practices of early childhood education teachers and the language environments of preschool classrooms with the vocabulary competencies of the children who were Dual Language Learners (DLLs). In addition, the study investigated whether children’s receptive and expressive vocabularies were related to teachers’ years of experience, skills in Spanish, and preparation to work with dual language learners. Secondary data from a multi-state study conducted by Castro et al. (2017) was the focus of analyses. The sample consisted of 141 teachers and 249 children. Observation instruments included the Early Language & Literacy Classroom Observation—Dual Language Learners (ELLCO--DLL, Castro, 2015), and the Language Interactions Snapshot (LISn, Sprachman et al., 2009). Children’s English and Bilingual vocabularies were measured by the Receptive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test (Brownell, 2011). Expressive vocabulary in English was measured by the Woodcock Johnson Battery-Picture Vocabulary Subscale III (Woodcock, 2005). Spanish expressive vocabulary was measured by Woodcock-Johnson Vocabulario Sobre Dibujos (Woodcock & Muñoz Sandoval, 2005). The English receptive vocabulary scores and both English and Spanish expressive vocabulary scores for this sample of preschool children were more than one standard deviation below the mean of 100. However, the Bilingual receptive vocabulary scores were within the normal range. Children’s conversations with teachers and peers, teachers’ professional development to work with DLLs, and the teachers’ classroom practices were significant contributors to children’s language competencies. Recommendations included targeted professional development for teachers that support more conversational exchanges and increased reading session to children in small and whole groups. In addition, classrooms were lacking in resources in Spanish.