Current Projects

Identifying Risk for Learning Difficulties among Spanish-speaking Dual Language Learners
We are currently conducting two projects to identify risk for learning difficulties/disabilities among Spanish-speaking dual language learners. The first project is focused on using measures of Spanish and English language skills early in school (e.g., kindergarten) to predict student reading outcomes. The second project involves distinguishing potential writing disabilities from poor writing performance that is due to the acquisition of English among Spanish-speaking DLLs. These projects will provide key information regarding which young DLLs are at risk for learning difficulties so that practitioners can provide intervention to prevent them from falling behind their peers.

 

Student Projects

Evaluating differences in language processing during reading across monolingual and bilingual children in Honduras (Sergio Leiva)

Examination of the bilingual advantage in executive function (Sergio Leiva)

Effectiveness of dual language instructional programs (Lauren Thayer)

Self-regulation and language skills among DLLs (Lauren Thayer)

 

Past Projects

Effectiveness of Embedding Cognitive Skills Instruction within Evidence-Based Early Literacy Instruction
For this project, we modified activities from an evidence-based early literacy curriculum to include training on different aspects of executive function (e.g., working memory, inhibitory control). Students either received our modified activities, the early literacy activities only, or no instruction other than their normal preschool program. Results indicated that students in the modified activities and early literacy only group outperformed students in the control group on nearly all early literacy outcomes, and students who received the modified activities outperformed students in the early literacy only group on several key outcomes.

Language Processing among Spanish-speaking DLLs
For this project, we used an eye tracking paradigm to evaluate theories about language processing among bilingual children. Specifically, we were interested in measuring the degree to which both languages are simultaneously active and whether input in one language "activates" knowledge in the other language. Results of the project indicated that bilingual children's two languages do interact with each other, such that input in the first language may cause activation of knowledge children have in their second language, or vice versa.