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Cross-language associations and changes in Spanish-speaking preschoolers’ English and Spanish academic abilities


We examined the cross-language relations among Spanish-speaking preschoolers’ (N = 125; M age = 53 months, SD = 4.58) English and Spanish vocabulary, letter–word, and math skills; the changes they exhibited in those skills during 1 year of preschool; and the extent to which Spanish skills were associated with English skill gains. The results revealed that children's Spanish and English vocabulary skills were unassociated across languages, whereas their letter–word and math skills were positively associated. Children exhibited gains in vocabulary, letter–word, and math skills in English, with letter–word and math skills in Spanish at the start of preschool being positively associated with the development of those skills in English. Children also gained math skills in Spanish. However, their Spanish vocabulary and letter–word skills did not appear to change. Vocabulary skills showed positive within-language relations with children's letter–word and math skills. The findings highlight cross-language linkages between Spanish-speaking preschoolers’ academic skills in English and Spanish and how Spanish skills associate with their English academic readiness.

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ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Francisco Palermo, University of Missouri, 314 Gentry Hall, Columbia, MO 65211. E-mail:
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Applied Psycholinguistics
  • ISSN: 0142-7164
  • EISSN: 1469-1817
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