A window into bilingual reading: The bilingual reading practices of fourth-grade, Mexican American children who are emergent bilinguals

Georgia Earnest García, Heriberto Godina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A qualitative think-aloud study, informed by social literacies and holistic bilingual perspectives, was conducted to examine how six emergent bilingual, Mexican American, fourth graders approached, interacted with, and comprehended narrative and expository texts in Spanish and English. The children had strong Spanish reading test scores, but differed in their English reading and oral proficiency test scores. All but one of them varied their cognitive and bilingual strategy use according to the demands and genre of the text and their oral English proficiency. The most frequent bilingual strategies demonstrated were translating and code-mixing. Only two children used cognates. The children often employed one language to explain their reading in the other language. They displayed a wider range of strategies across two languages compared with a single language, supporting the use of a holistic bilingual perspective to assess their reading rather than a parallel monolingual perspective. Their reading profiles in the two languages were similar, suggesting cross-linguistic transfer, although the think-aloud procedures could not determine strategy transference. The findings supported a translanguaging interpretation of their bilingual reading practices. Future research on how emergent bilingual children of different ages develop translanguaging and use it to comprehend texts was recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-301
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Literacy Research
Volume49
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • Assessment
  • Bilingual education/literacy
  • Comprehension processes
  • Cross-cultural
  • Cross-linguistic
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse students
  • ESL/ELL
  • Strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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