Dialect variation and reading: Is change in Nonmainstream american english use related to reading achievement in first and second grades?

Nicole Patton Terry, Carol Mc Donald Connor, Yaacov Petscher, Catherine Ross Conlin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    35 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Purpose: In this study, we examined (a) whether children who spoke Nonmainstream American English (NMAE) frequently in school at the beginning of 1st grade increased their use of Mainstream American English (MAE) through the end of 2nd grade, and whether increasing MAE use was associated with (b) language and reading skills and school context and (c) greater gains in reading skills. Method: A longitudinal design was implemented with 49 children who spoke NMAE moderately to strongly. Spoken production of NMAE forms, word reading, and reading comprehension were measured at the beginning, middle, and end of 1st and 2nd grades. Various oral language skills were also measured at the beginning of 1st grade. Results: Results indicate that most children increased their MAE production during 1st grade and maintained these levels in 2nd grade. Increasing MAE use was predicted by children's expressive vocabulary and nonword repetition skills at the beginning of 1st grade. Finally, the more children increased their MAE production, the greater were their reading gains from 1st grade through 2nd grade. Conclusions: The findings extend previous reports of a significant association between NMAE use and specific reading skills among young children and have implications for theory, educational practice, and future research.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)55-69
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
    Volume55
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Feb 1 2012

    Keywords

    • Dialect
    • Nonmainstream american english
    • Reading

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language
    • Speech and Hearing

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