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J Appl Dev Psychol. 2010 Dec 1;31(6):475-483.

Uneven Profiles: Language Minority Learners' Word Reading, Vocabulary, and Reading Comprehension Skills.

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1
Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Abstract

English reading comprehension skill development was examined in a group of 87 native Spanish-speakers developing English literacy skills, followed from fourth through fifth grade. Specifically, the effects of Spanish (L1) and English (L2) oral language and word reading skills on reading comprehension were investigated. The participants showed average word reading skills and below average comprehension skills, influenced by low oral language skills. Structural equation modeling confirmed that L2 oral language skills had a large, significant effect on L2 reading comprehension, whereas students' word-level reading skills, whether in L1 or L2, were not significantly related to English reading comprehension in three of four models fitted. The results converge with findings from studies with monolinguals demonstrating the influence of oral language on reading comprehension outcomes, and extend these findings by showing that, for language minority learners, L2 oral language exerts a stronger influence than word reading in models of L2 reading.

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