"Spanish-Speaking Parents' Beliefs About Dual Language Development, Home Language Use, and Children's Vocabulary Performance"
AERA 2018 Annual Meeting: “The Dreams, Possibilities, and Necessity of Public Education”
April 13-17, 2018
Title: Spanish-Speaking Parents' Beliefs About Dual Language Development, Home Language Use, and Children's Vocabulary Performance
Author: Jin Kyoung Hwang
With an increasing number of students from non-native English homes in the U.S., it is important to better understand these learners’ home language environments and the extent to which parents’ beliefs about bilingualism might relate to children’s language outcomes during the school years. The purpose of this study is to characterize parental beliefs about dual language development and examine the relationship among parental beliefs, home language use, and early-elementary children’s vocabulary outcomes.
Children’s early home language environment is crucial for their language development. Factors such as parental beliefs about language and literacy can affect children’s vocabulary outcomes (Gonzalez et al., 2017). However, parental beliefs and their subsequent effect on parental behaviors and child outcomes can vary by ethnicity and culture (Davis-Kean, & Sexton, 2009).
Participants (N = 190) were recruited from three elementary schools in a large urban school district in the southeastern region of the U.S. All children came from Spanish-speaking homes and students were in kindergarten (n = 59), second (n = 59), and fourth grade (n=72), with approximately 64% of students formally classified as limited English proficient (LEP). Parents completed a demographic and language use/beliefs questionnaire. Children were directly assessed on conceptual vocabulary knowledge—vocabulary knowledge in terms of known concepts independent of language—in the fall of the school year using the Receptive and Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test-4: Spanish-Bilingual Edition (Martin, 2013).
We first conducted a principal component analysis (PCA) to examine parental beliefs about dual language development. We then conducted a series of structural equation modeling (SEM) analyses to test whether parental beliefs about dual language development influenced home language use and, in turn, children’s conceptual vocabulary knowledge.
PCA results revealed that, although three factors emerged, they differed based on children’s language proficiency status (LEP or non-LEP) and grade levels (kindergarten or 2nd/4th grade). For LEP students, the factors were bilingual facility, language separation, and valuing English. For non-LEP student, the factors were accurate language use, bilingual facility, and valuing English. For kindergarteners, the factors were bilingual facility, valuing English, and accurate language use/valuing Spanish. Finally, for the 2nd/4th graders, the factors were language separation, bilingual facility, and valuing English. In addition, we found different patterns across our subsamples with SEM analyses. For LEP and kindergarten students, parental beliefs predicted home language use, and home language use predicted their scores on the conceptual vocabulary measure. In other words, LEP and kindergarten students whose parents had low scores on bilingual facility tended to be from English-dominant homes, on average, and students from more English-dominant homes tended to have higher conceptual vocabulary scores, on average, compared to those from Spanish-dominant homes.
Results of this study underscore the importance of considering parental beliefs about dual language development as beliefs appear to relate to home language use practices and also to children’s vocabulary achievement. It is also important to note that this relationship is not stable, but changes based on students’ English language proficiency and across grade levels.