Benefits of an early literacy intervention for monolingual versus bilingual learners with specific language and/or literacy impairments

Benefits of an early literacy intervention for monolingual versus bilingual learners with specific language and/or literacy impairments

First Author: John Everatt -- University of Canterbury
Additional authors/chairs: 
Joel Chang; Dina Ocampo; Brigid McNeill
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: The research investigated improvements in basic reading and language processing following two intervention methods (one involving phonological awareness training and the other focusing on morphological awareness training). Two contexts were considered, one in New Zealand schools, where monolingual and bilingual children with evidence of specific language weaknesses were contrasted, and a second in the Philippines which compared typically-developing bilingual children and bilingual children with language weaknesses.

Method: The design assessed the performance of the children at three different time points: once prior to the intervention, once after the first intervention and once after the second. Each intervention was the first administered for half the students in each context. All children were in their first year of school (5 to 6 years old). Measures assessed phonological awareness, language skills (including vocabulary), non-verbal intelligence, and basic reading skills (decoding letter strings and understanding words/sentences). Children were included if there was no evidence of sensory or neurological problems, and their non-verbal intelligence score was 85 to 115. Children with language weakness were those who showed poor scores on several areas of verbal language processing.

Results: Data indicated few differences between groups prior to the interventions. At the mid-point, which contrasted interventions with a phonological versus morphological focus, specific gains in phonological processing were evident for the phonological-based intervention. However, both interventions showed gains in letter-sound and word understanding tasks across the intervention periods.

Conclusions: Specific phonological/morphological interventions can lead to improvements among children with language weaknesses within a bilingual learning context.