The Effect of Spanish Fluency and Syntactic Processing on Reading In English
Tonya Wolford

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Pennsylvania

Primary Discipline

Literacy and/or English/Language Education
This project will investigate the influence of Spanish on learning to read in English among bilingual Latino elementary school children. The purpose of the research is to extend our knowledge of the relationship between Spanish language abilities and English literacy for these children. Most research into the effects of L1 Spanish on L2 English reading has focused on phonemic awareness, decoding, and vocabulary. In contrast, this project will investigate the relationship between syntactic complexity, fluency, and reading. Syntactic processing and fluency will be assessed through having the children read stories in English and translate them into Spanish. Spanish and English spontaneous speech samples will also be collected from the children. Their use of complex syntactic structures in the translations and in spontaneous speech will be evaluated in two ways. First, the children’s ability to translate accurately and fluidly will be correlated with standard measures of decoding ability and reading comprehension. Further, the children’s use of complex syntactic structures in the translations and in speech will be examined in light of both the quality of their translations and their standardized test scores. This study should provide evidence of the effects of syntactic processing skills and fluency in Spanish on literacy in English, in addition to further illuminating the cross-linguistic influences on syntactic processing among Spanish-English bilinguals.
About Tonya Wolford

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