Assessing Spanish Early Writing Development of Preschool English Language Learners and Its Link to English Early Writing Development



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Children who speak limited English are at particular jeopardy of school failure because of multiple risk factors. In the later grades, these children have difficult y making progress towards state standards in English reading and English writing. Research with bilingual children indicates that children transfer phonological awareness and writing skills across languages. However, the research on cross-linguistic transfer of early writing is sparse when compared to the phonological awareness research base. This study is important because it aims to address the gap in the literature by exploring ELLs' pathway from Spanish (L1) to English (L2) written language and moderators of this pathway. Using a sample of 110 preschool English-language learners, the children's early writing performance was compared to national norms in 2007 and 2008 using a standardized instrument that prompts them to write letters and words from dictation. The data was analyzed using commonality regression analysis and canonical correlation to examine 1) shared and unique variance of performance on the English dictation measure accounted for by English and Spanish phonological awareness 2) shared and unique variance of performance on the Spanish dictation measure accounted for by English and Spanish phonological awareness and 3) interrelationships between early writing and phonological awareness in English and Spanish. Although it was expected that the student's performance on the English dictation task would be below average when compared to national norms, the students' performance was low average. The results from commonality regression and canonical correlation analysis indicated that the greatest unique contribution to English and Spanish dictation in 2008 was Spanish dictation in 2007. Finally, the results from the canonical correlation regression indicated that the Spanish literacy skills made a greater contribution to the phonological awareness and dictation synthetic variable than did the parallel English literacy skills.