Dialect Variation and Reading: Is Change in Nonmainstream American English Use Related to Reading Achievement in First and Second Grades? PurposeIn 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 ... Article
Article  |   February 01, 2012
Dialect Variation and Reading: Is Change in Nonmainstream American English Use Related to Reading Achievement in First and Second Grades?
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Nicole Patton Terry
    Georgia State University and the Center for Research on Atypical Development and Learning, Atlanta, and Haskins Laboratories, New Haven, CT
  • Carol McDonald Connor
    Florida State University and the Florida Center for Reading Research, Tallahassee
  • Yaacov Petscher
    Florida Center for Reading Research, Tallahassee
  • Catherine Ross Conlin
    Florida State University, Tallahassee
  • Correspondence to Nicole Patton Terry: npterry@gsu.edu
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Diane Loeb
    Associate Editor: Diane Loeb×
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / School-Based Settings / Language
Article   |   February 01, 2012
Dialect Variation and Reading: Is Change in Nonmainstream American English Use Related to Reading Achievement in First and Second Grades?
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2012, Vol. 55, 55-69. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/09-0257)
History: Received December 4, 2009 , Revised June 17, 2010 , Accepted June 26, 2011
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2012, Vol. 55, 55-69. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/09-0257)
History: Received December 4, 2009; Revised June 17, 2010; Accepted June 26, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 20

PurposeIn 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.

MethodA 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.

ResultsResults 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.

ConclusionsThe 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.

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