Language-independent and language-specific aspects of early literacy: An evaluation of the common underlying proficiency model

J. Marc Goodrich, Christopher J. Lonigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

According to the common underlying proficiency model (Cummins, 1981), as children acquire academic knowledge and skills in their first language, they also acquire language-independent information about those skills that can be applied when learning a second language. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relevance of the common underlying proficiency model for the early literacy skills of Spanish-speaking language-minority children using confirmatory factor analysis. A total of 858 Spanishspeaking language-minority preschoolers (mean age = 60.83 months; 50.2% female) participated in this study. Results indicated that bifactor models that consisted of language-independent as well as languagespecific early literacy factors provided the best fits to the data for children's phonological awareness and print knowledge skills. Correlated factors models that included skills specific to only Spanish and English provided the best fits to the data for children's oral language skills. Children's language-independent early literacy skills were significantly related across constructs and to language-specific aspects of early literacy. Language-specific aspects of early literacy skills were significantly related within but not across languages. These findings suggest that language-minority preschoolers have a common underlying proficiency for code-related skills but not language-related skills that may allow them to transfer knowledge across languages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)782-793
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Volume109
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2017

Keywords

  • Early literacy
  • Language-minority
  • Oral language
  • Phonological awareness
  • Print knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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