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IES Grant

Title: Vocabulary, Oral Language, and Academic Readiness (VOLAR): A Language Intervention for Latino Preschool English Language Learners with Language Disorders
Center: NCSER Year: 2006
Principal Investigator: Gutierrez-Clellen, Vera Awardee: San Diego State University
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 6/1/2006 to 5/31/2009 Award Amount: $1,425,540
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324E060073
Description:

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop and evaluate the potential efficacy of a focused vocabulary and oral language intervention for improving the academic readiness (VOLAR) of preschool Spanish-speaking children with language disorders within the preschool curriculum. The VOLAR program was designed to evaluate whether a focused and direct vocabulary and oral language instruction facilitates academic readiness (i.e., vocabulary, oral language, phonological awareness, cognitive, and socioemotional outcomes) in English Language Learners (ELLs) with language disorders compared to their peers with language disorders who do not receive the VOLAR intervention. In addition, the effects of the VOLAR intervention will be compared across bilingual and English-only modalities to determine whether the intervention presented in a bilingual modality (BIVOLAR) leads to greater improvements in vocabulary, oral language, and academic readiness than the VOLAR intervention presented in English only (EVOLAR).

Project Activities: The researchers are developing the VOLAR intervention for use with ELL preschool children with language disorders. The effects of the VOLAR intervention will be evaluated using measures of vocabulary, oral language, phonological awareness, as well as measures of cognitive and socioemotional development. Hierarchical linear modeling will be used to (a) estimate growth trajectories over four testing times (prior to the intervention, immediately after the intervention ends, at 3 months, and at 8 months) based on student-level data and (b) to evaluate the research questions.

Products: The expected outcomes from this study include:

  1. A vocabulary and oral language intervention for improving the academic readiness of preschool, Spanish-speaking, preschool children with language disorders, and
  2. Published reports on the effects of the VOLAR intervention on academic readiness.

Setting: The preschools are located in Arizona and Southern California.

Population: Approximately 300 preschool children will participate; 240 of these children will have language disorders while 60 children will have typical language development. All participants will be 4 years old, speak Spanish as their first language, speak minimal or no English, and attend bilingual classrooms. Children with typical language development will have no history of language or developmental delay, based on parent and teacher reports.

Intervention: The VOLAR intervention is designed to improve vocabulary and oral language skills for Spanish speaking children with language disorders. VOLAR will be provided for four days per week for twelve weeks. Each session will last 45 minutes and take place in small groups with a trained language teacher. Children will receive instruction through read-alouds, repeated dialogic reading, and hand-on activities thematically related to the intervention texts. The children will be taught six target vocabulary words per week, including two verbs, that will be embedded in either narrative or expository texts. In addition, the children will be taught to understand and answer "who," "what," "where," "when," "how," and "why" questions; produce complex sentences; and formulate questions.

Research Design and Methods: A sample of 300 participants will be evenly recruited from Phoenix and San Diego. Children with language disorders will be randomly assigned to the VOLAR experimental or control (NOVOLAR) groups. Children in the VOLAR group will then be randomly assigned to one of two intervention groups: English-only VOLAR or Bilingual VOLAR. Children in the NOVOLAR control group will be randomly assigned to one of two NOVOLAR groups: English-only NOVOLAR or Bilingual NOVOLAR. The sample will be recruited in three cohorts of 100 children each. All children will be followed from preschool to kindergarten and assessed three months and eight months after receiving the intervention.

The 60 children with typical language development will participate only in the scheduled assessment activities in order to provide typical language developmental data from preschool to kindergarten. They will not receive VOLAR or NOVOLAR interventions.

Control Condition: Children in the control groups will participate in curriculum-based hands on activities (e.g., memory games, manipulatives, etc), but will not be taught target vocabulary or oral language skills.

Key Measures: Children will be evaluated using measures of vocabulary, oral language, phonological awareness, as well as measures of cognitive and socioemotional development.

Data Analytic Strategy: Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) will be used to evaluate the potential efficacy of the VOLAR interventions and estimate child growth trajectories over time.

Publications

Book

Gutiérrez-Clellen, V., Simon-Cereijido, G., and Restrepo, M.A. (2013). Improving the Vocabulary and Oral Language Skills of Bilingual Latino Preschoolers: An Intervention for Speech-Language Pathologists. San Diego: Plural Publishing, Inc.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Gutiérrez-Clellen, V., Simon-Cereijido, G., and Sweet, M. (2012). Predictors of Second Language Acquisition in Latino Children With Specific Language Impairment. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 21(21): 64–77. doi:10.1044/1058–0360(2011/10–0090)

Restrepo, M.A., Morgan, G.P., and Thompson, M.S. (2013). The Efficacy of a Vocabulary Intervention for Dual-Language Learners With Language Impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 56(2): 748–765. doi:10.1044/1092–4388(2012/11–0173)x

Simon-Cereijido, G., Gutiérrez-Clellen, V.F., and Sweet, M. (2013). Predictors of Growth or Attrition of the First Language in Latino Children With Specific Language Impairment. Applied Psycholinguistics, 34(6): 1219–1243. doi:10.1017/S0142716412000215


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