Reciprocal relation between native vocabulary knowledge and second language acquisition

Reciprocal relation between native vocabulary knowledge and second language acquisition

First Author: Marlen Collazo -- SMU
Additional authors/chairs: 
Doris Luft Baker ; Patricia Crespo ; Betsy Mc Coach
Keywords: Cross-linguistic, Transfer, vocabulary learning, Biliteracy, Bilingualism
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: We examine the relation between Spanish and English vocabulary knowledge in the context of two experimental studies designed to evaluate the efficacy of academic vocabulary interventions in English for Hispanic English learners in the U.S. The first study focused on determining the moderating effect of Spanish language skills (L1) on English vocabulary outcomes (L2). The second study focused on determining the effect of a second grade English vocabulary instructional tutoring system on student L1.

Research Design: Cluster randomized design in both studies.

Method: Participants were 348 Hispanic students in kindergarten, and 217 in second grade. Measures for kindergarten were the TVIP, PPVT, a researcher developed vocabulary measure, and a listening comprehension measure. Measures for second grade were a researcher developed measure, the ROWPVT and EOWPVT (Martin & Brownell, 2011), and the Gates McGinitie (2000).

Results: In both studies, students in the treatment group outperformed students in the control group (p < .05) with moderate to large effect sizes. Kindergarteners who scored higher on the TVIP (Spanish receptive vocabulary) improved their English vocabulary knowledge more than kindergartners who scored lower on the TVIP. Second grade students in the treatment group who responded in Spanish scored higher on the posttest vocabulary assessment than control students who responded in Spanish.

Conclusions: The first study suggests that students with a strong vocabulary foundation in the native language might improve their L2 faster than students with a weak vocabulary foundation in L1. The second study indicates that receiving a vocabulary intervention in English impacts student native language suggesting a reciprocal relation between L1 and L2 that will ultimately foster student overall academic language development.