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Reading dual language books: Improving early literacy skills in linguistically diverse classrooms

Research has determined that dual language books have a positive effect on literacy achievement, motivation, and family involvement in children's schooling. In this study we used quantitative methods to complement the largely qualitative extant research. We analyzed the early literacy skills of 105 kindergarten children (45 comparison, 60 treatment) with diverse language backgrounds (35% English, 31% Punjabi, 16% Urdu, 18% other languages) from eight kindergarten classes in four suburban Canadian schools. Statistical analyses indicated that children who were read to using dual language books, written in French, Punjabi, and Urdu, demonstrated significantly greater gains in graphophonemic knowledge than children who were read to in English only. This gain occurred specifically in children who spoke the targeted languages at home; children who did not speak the targeted languages were not negatively affected. Findings are discussed in terms of developing metalinguistic awareness and directions for practice and research are discussed. (author abstract)
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