Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

The role of home literacy and language environment on bilinguals' English and Spanish vocabulary development


For the monolingual population, research has shown that vocabulary knowledge is closely related to reading achievement. However, the role of vocabulary has not been studied as extensively in the bilingual population. It is important to look at vocabulary to better understand reading achievement in the bilingual population in the United States. This study investigated the predictors of Spanish and English vocabulary for 96 fifth-grade Latino English language learners. Our results suggest that becoming or staying proficient in English did not require parental use of English in the home. However, proficiency in Spanish required both instructional support at school and social support at home; it is likely that the low social status of Spanish is related to its greater dependence on home support.

Corresponding author
Elisabeth Duursma, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Appian Way, 3 Larsen, Cambridge, MA 02138. E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

BauerD. J., GoldfieldB. A., & ReznickJ. S.2002. Differences in early vocabulary development. Applied Psycholinguistics, 23, 313335.

BialystokE.1991. Metalinguistic dimensions of bilingual language proficiency. In E.Bialystok (Ed.), Language processing in bilingual children. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

BialystokE.2001. Bilingualism in development: Language, literacy and cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

BurgessS. R.2002. The influence of speech perception, oral language ability, the home literacy environment, and pre-reading knowledge on the growth of phonological sensitivity: A one-year longitudinal investigation. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 15, 709737.

BusA. G., Van IjzendoornM. H., & PellegriniA. D.1995. Joint book reading makes for success in learning to read: A meta-analysis on intergenerational transmission of literacy. Review of Educational Research, 65, 121.

CipielewskiJ., & StanovichK. E.1992. Predicting growth in reading ability from children's exposure to print. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 54, 7489.

DurgunogluA. Y., NagyW. E., & Hancin-BhattB. J.1993. Cross-language transfer of phonological awareness. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 453465.

EntwisleD. R., & AstoneN. M.1994. Some practical guidelines for measuring youth's race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Child Development, 65, 15211540.

FisherT. A.1999. Parental influences on career development perceived by African American and Mexican American college students. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 27, 136152.

FreebodyP., & AndersonR. C.1983. Effects of vocabulary difficulty, text cohesion, and schema availability on reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 18, 277323.

GargR., KauppiC., LewkoJ., & UrajnikD.2002. A structural model of educational aspirations. Journal of Career Development, 29, 87108.

GauvainM., SavageS., & McCollumD.2000. Reading at home and at school in the primary grades: Cultural and social influences. Early Education and Development, 11, 447463.

GoldenbergC., ReeseL., & GallimoreR.1992. Effects of literacy materials from school on Latino children's home experiences and early reading achievement. American Journal of Education, 100, 497536.

Gutierrez-ClellenV. F., & KreiterJ.2003. Understanding child bilingual acquisition using parent and teacher reports. Applied Psycholinguistics, 24, 267288.

LindseyK. A., ManisF. R., & BaileyC. E.2003. Prediction of first-grade reading in Spanish-speaking English-language learners. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 482494.

NeumanS. B., & CleanoD.2001. Access to print in low-income and middle-income communities: An ecological study of four neighborhoods. Reading Research Quarterly, 36, 826.

PadillaA. M., LindholmK. J., ChenA., DuranR., HakutaK., LambertW., et al. 1991. The English-only movement: Myths, reality, and implications for psychology. American Psychologist, 46, 120130.

PayneA. C., WhitehurstG. J., & AngellA. L.1994. The role of home literacy environment in the development of language ability in preschool children from low-income families. Early Childhood Quarterly, 9, 427440.

PortesA., & HaoL.2002. The price of uniformity: Language, family and personality adjustment in the immigrant second generation. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 25, 889912.

ReeseL., GarnierH., GallimoreR., & GoldenbergC.2000. Longitudinal analysis of the antecedents of emergent Spanish literacy and middle-school English reading achievement of Spanish-speaking students. American Educational Journal, 37, 633662.

ScarboroughH. S., DobrichW., & HagerM.1991. Preschool literacy experience and later reading achievement. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 24, 508511.

SénéchalM., LeFevreJ. A., & ThomasE. M.1998. Differential effects of home literacy experiences on the development of oral and written language. Reading Research Quarterly, 33, 96116.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Applied Psycholinguistics
  • ISSN: 0142-7164
  • EISSN: 1469-1817
  • URL: /core/journals/applied-psycholinguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title

 PDF (119 KB)
119 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 13
Total number of PDF views: 228 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 604 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 26th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.