English Reading Growth in Spanish‐Speaking Bilingual Students: Moderating Effect of English Proficiency on Cross‐Linguistic Influence

Jackie Eunjung Relyea, Steven J. Amendum. English Reading Growth in Spanish‐Speaking Bilingual Students: Moderating Effect of English Proficiency on Cross‐Linguistic Influence. Child Development, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.13288

This study found that children who had strong early reading skills in their native Spanish language when they entered kindergarten experienced greater growth in their ability to read English from kindergarten through fourth grade. When the researchers factored in how well the students spoke English, it turned out that native language reading skills mattered more — even at kindergarten entry — to the students' growth across time. These results indicate that children who had stronger Spanish reading skills upon entering kindergarten did better across time, even than their Spanish-speaking peers who were more fluent in speaking English but less proficient in reading Spanish. For parents, the message is simple: read to your children in whatever is your best language. The skills they learn from reading with you will translate in the classroom no matter what language you use.

"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb