Relations between Preschool Teachersâ€™ Language and Gains in Low Income English Language Learnersâ€™ and English Speakersâ€™ Vocabulary, Early Literacy and Math Skills
Keywords:language, literacy, math development
This study explores whether the quality of Head Start teachersâ€™ language fosters gains in childrenâ€™s vocabulary, literacy, and math skills, and whether the pattern is similar for low income English language learners and English speakers. Children (N=191) attended two urban Head Start Centers. The CLASS (language modeling) was used to observe the quality of teachersâ€™ language. Childrenâ€™s skills were assessed in the fall and spring on measures of expressive and receptive vocabulary, early literacy, and math skills. The pattern of results differed for English language learners and English speakers and across outcome measures. The quality of teachersâ€™ language predicted gains in English language learnersâ€™ receptive and expressive vocabulary, but not that of English speakers. In addition, the receptive vocabulary of the English language learners predicted gains in their phonological awareness and math skills. The relation between teachersâ€™ language and childrenâ€™s print knowledge was moderated by their receptive vocabulary. That is, the quality of teachersâ€™ language predicted gains in print knowledge only among those children who had higher vocabulary scores. These results underscore the role that teachersâ€™ language can play and the importance of childrenâ€™s vocabulary for their early academic development.
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