Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: Effect of Bilingual vs Monolingual Methods of Explicit English Vocabulary Instruction on 4th Grade Spanish-Speaking English Learners (EL)
Center: NCER Year: 2020
Principal Investigator: Carlo, Maria Awardee: University of South Florida
Program: Policies, Practices, and Programs to Support English Learners      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2020 – 06/30/2024) Award Amount: $1,398,975
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A200047

Co-Principal Investigator: Smith, Sara

Purpose: This project will contribute to the knowledge base of strategies for explicit academic English vocabulary instruction as malleable factors that can impact academic language development in English learners (ELs). Researchers will investigate the effects of the strategic use of native language vocabulary definitions as supports for promoting academic English vocabulary learning.

Project Activities: The research team will complete an experiment with three cohorts of fourth-grade Spanish-speaking ELs to determine whether bilingual methods of explicit vocabulary instruction (experimental) are more effective than monolingual methods (control) in promoting the learning of general-purpose academic English words.

Products: The results will be disseminated through conferences, publications, and teacher resource materials.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Participating students participate in after-school programs affiliated with Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS), located in Tampa, Florida, serving 218,623 students in Prekindergarten through 12th grade, of which 11percent are ELs.

Sample: Researchers will recruit a total of 216 fourth-grade Spanish-speaking ELs.

Factors: The factor being explored is the use of bilingual versus monolingual methods of explicit vocabulary instruction.

Research Design and Methods: Students will be randomly assigned to one of two conditions in order to test whether bilingual methods of explicit vocabulary instruction are more effective than monolingual methods in promoting the learning of general-purpose academic English words among fourth-grade Spanish-speaking ELs. One half of the participating ELs will receive monolingual explicit definition instruction using English vocabulary cards that include child-friendly definitions, supporting images, contextual explanations, opportunities for word use, and orthographic and pronunciation support. A shared reading activity will follow, using an English text that includes the target words and provides in-text vocabulary definition supports. The instructors will be trained, bilingual research assistants. For each of the cohorts, instruction will be delivered one-on-one for 30 minutes 2 times a week for 6 weeks. The other half of the participating ELs will receive bilingual explicit definition instruction. The experimental condition differs from the control condition as follows: (1) in addition to a child- friendly definition in English, a child-friendly definition in Spanish will be provided along with the word's Spanish equivalent; (2) word contextualization information will be offered in Spanish and English; and (3) the shared reading in-text vocabulary supports will include Spanish equivalents. All other instruction will be identical to that in the control condition.

The researchers will examine the extent to which the effects of each condition are moderated by English and Spanish language and literacy proficiency, executive functioning skills, and word type (cognate versus noncognate, varied within-subject).

Key Measures: The project team will administer researcher-developed measures of target vocabulary learning before (Time 1) and immediately following (Time 2) the experiment. The researcher-developed measures include a test of receptive knowledge of English word definitions and a test of application of word knowledge to text comprehension in English. At Time 1, researchers will also administer the Picture Vocabulary and Passage Comprehension Spanish and English subtests of the Woodcock-Muņoz Language Survey®—Revised Normative Update. At Time 2, the team will also administer a battery of executive function assessments.

Data Analytic Strategy: The researchers will perform analyses of covariance to test the differences between monolingual- and bilingual-instructed participants on measures of receptive and productive knowledge of English definitions, controlling for pretest levels of Spanish and English vocabulary ability and reading comprehension, as well as measures of executive function.

Related Projects: The Effect of Definitions, Contextual Support, and Cognate Status on 4th Grade Spanish-speaking English Learners' (ELLs) Understanding of Unfamiliar Words in Text (R305A170636)