The Role of the Native Language in the English Reading Comprehension of Latino Adolescent Students

5:05 - 6:35pm

Hilton Union Square, Sixth Level – Tower 3 Powell

Presented at: American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2013 Annual Meeting

The present study examined the role of the native language in the recognition of cognate words in English text by Spanish-speaking adolescent students. Controlling for the effects of English vocabulary and other English language and literacy skills, knowledge of Spanish cognates was found to have a significant and positive effect on English reading comprehension as measured by a standardized assessment of reading ability (i.e., Gates MacGinitie Reading Test). These findings highlight the role that the Spanish language plays in meeting the academic needs of Latino students in the U.S. and provide support for research that indicates that a strong foundation in the native language facilitates second-language development (Cummins, 1984; Oller & Eilers, 2002).