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A multi-modal intervention for English language learners: preliminary results.


Finding culturally responsive practices that are engaging for students is even more important with the ever-increasing population of English Language Learners (ELLs) in the United States. The challenges of a language barrier can contribute to low achievement and high dropout rates. This 16-week study examined the effects of authoring and sharing dual-language identity texts on the narrative skills of 3 Spanish-speaking ELLs who were in the third grade. Specifically, we examined discourse length and lexical diversity. In this culturally responsive intervention, students authored and read dual-language identity texts. Language samples were elicited in the form of story generations prompted by randomly selected photographs. Results of the study indicate that 2 of the 3 participants made notable gains in vocabulary and narrative skill performance. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

Keywords: dual language, culturally responsive intervention, narrative skills, book sharing, story grammar


One of the most pressing issues in education today is how to address the academic needs of English Language Learners (ELLs). The population of ELLs has increased dramatically in classrooms across the United States. Nearly one in five children come from a home where English is not the native language and more than one in four children are Hispanic where Spanish is the primary language spoken (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). The challenges of a language barrier make it difficult for ELLs to compete with their English-proficient peers resulting in low academic achievement and high dropout rates (Hernandez, 2011; McCardle, Meie-McCarthy, Cutting, Leos, & D'Emilio, 2005).

Vocabulary knowledge and narrative skills have been found to be precursors to achieving literacy for children who are learning two languages (August & Shanahan, 2006). Narrative skills and extended monologues are a type of academic language proficiency that children are expected to comprehend and produce during school activities (Ortiz, 1997; Westby, 1992). These skills have also been identified as areas that are problematic for ELLs (Castro, Paez, Dickinson, & Frede, 2011). Compared with their typically developing peers, children with language and literacy difficulties are more likely to produce narratives that include less information (shorter discourse length) and contain less grammatical complexity (shorter utterances), lexical diversity (fewer different words), cohesive adequacy, and organizational coherence (Gutierrez-Clellen, 1995; Hayward, Gillam, & Lien, 2007; Paul & Smith, 1993). Difficulties in these areas can lead to an adverse effect on academic progress (Boudreau & Hedberg, 1999). Researchers have found that narrative skills are a predictor of progress in language development (Cleave, Girolametto, Chen, & Johnson, 2010) and a predictor of later reading outcomes (Dickinson & McCabe, 2001; Gutierrez-Clellen, 2002). Furthermore, the lexical diversity of children's narrative discourse has been found to be one of the most informative predictors of oral language skill (Fergadiotis, Wright, & Capilouto, 2011). It is important that quality classroom instruction include opportunities for ELLs to strengthen second language skills by providing strong connections with their native language and culture.

Culturally Responswe Practices That Support Natwe Language

Educators who implement culturally responsive instruction create opportunities for children to practice new skills, engage in meaningful experiences, and understand new concepts. Instruction that allows ELLs to draw upon their culture and their first language reinforces a sense of belonging and a desire to participate in classroom activities (Cummins 2001, 2004; Reyes & Azuar, 2008; Taylor, Bernhard, Garg, & Cummins, 2008). It also helps students develop their identities and make sense of their world (Cummins, 2001, 2004; Gonzalez et al., 1993).

The literature that has focused on bilingual students supports the interrelationship of language development and literacy acquisition and strongly suggests that this interrelationship takes place both within and between languages (August & Hakuta, 1997; August & Shanahan, 2006; Miller et al., 2006). English learners with strong linguistic skills in their native language are more successful in acquiring English (Bernhard et al., 2006; Bernhard, Winsler, Bleiker, Ginieniewicz, & Madigan, 2008; Durgunoglu, 2002) because the native language provides a template for learning the basic structures of literacy including phonemes, vocabulary, inflection, and grammatical structures (Durgunoglu, 2002). The foundation of the home language provides students with the basis for understanding the different structures of the new language (Bernhard et al., 2006; Bernhard et al., 2008; Miller et al., 2006). Students with early literacy skills in their home language encounter the new language more confidently and are less hesitant to experiment with English (Bernhardt, 2003).

Bilingualism has been described as a continuum of proficiencies indicating that as learners of multiple languages develop, differences in performance across language tasks emerge and a child's language dominance may shift during the course of lexical development (Valdes & Figueroa, 1994). With implementation of an intervention in both languages, the input would be comprehended by the child no matter what his or her dominant language was at any particular time (Gutierrez-Clellen, 1999).

Book sharing provides students the opportunity to learn vocabulary that they may not encounter in day-to-day conversation while at the same time, learning about conventions of print and the syntactic structure of the language being used (see review by Ezell & Justice, 2005; study by Pollard-Durodola et al., 2011). Book sharing is different than the more traditional didactic or passive read-alouds in which teachers or parents only read the words and ask the child to quietly listen. The emphasis of book sharing is on the interactive nature of the read aloud. Book sharing strategies encourage the adult to let the child become the storyteller, ask questions, follow the child's lead, and explore language through conversations about the book and pictures (Lonigan & Whitehurst, 1998). Effective intervention such as book sharing that promotes receptive and expressive language in both school and home settings can have a significant positive impact on the literacy development of English learners (Tysbina & Eriks-Brophy, 2010; Wasik & Bond, 2001).

Bilingual Book-Sharing Interventions

Although certain aspects of different languages (e.g. pronunciation, fluency) are distinct, there is an underlying cognitive/academic proficiency that is common across languages (Cummins, 1998). According to Cummins's (1996) common underlying proficiencies theory, children learning multiple languages are able to transfer cognitive/academic or literacy-related skills across languages. These commonalities regarding language and literacy knowledge in the first language (LI) are available for access by the student to assist him in second language (L2) acquisition, resulting in a transfer of knowledge across languages.

Effective early literacy interventions promote frequent and high quality interactions in both the student's native language and English at home as well as at school (Justice & Pullen, 2003). Book sharing in both languages helps students maintain the home language and reinforces the value of their home culture. Literacy instruction that respects and values students' home language and culture promotes bilingualism and biculturalism and supports future school success (Bernhard et al., 2008).

Researchers have reported positive results of book sharing interventions on English learners' vocabulary and narrative skills. In a study by Roberts (2008), a randomly assigned group of preschool age children who were ELLs was provided with native language home storybook reading treatments while another group received an English-language storybook reading treatment. Both groups also received classroom storybook reading and vocabulary instruction in English. Students who had been reading books at home in their native language learned English vocabulary as effectively as the students in the English-language home storybook reading group. The implications of the study support the use of native language home storybook reading combined with English classroom storybook reading. Furthermore, family-caregiver participation increased substantially during the study.

Student-Authored Book Sharing Strategies

Although traditional storybook reading has been a dominant approach to literacy intervention in the early and primary grades, several researchers have asserted that the use of multi-modal experiences through art can extend young children's language and literacy development (Biner & Kotsopoulos, 2011; Cummins, 2004). One form of a multi-modal approach to literacy instruction is the use of student-authored identity texts (Bernhard et al., 2008). Identity texts are stories written by and about the student. The use of identity texts combines visual, written, and oral components in the form of pictures and words. Students dictate the story orally while teachers or family members transcribe it. Students can choose photographs or draw pictures to illustrate each page of their text. Dual language identity texts also help students make connections from preexisting knowledge and their home language to new English vocabulary (Bernhard et al., 2008). Sharing self-authored books helps students affirm their cultural backgrounds, maximize their self-identities, and engage actively in the learning process (Cummins et al., 2005; Taylor et al., 2008). Several research studies support the use of identity texts as an effective intervention for ELLs.

Taylor et al. (2008) conducted a qualitative study of 27 kindergarten children in which teachers and family members transcribed the children's oral stories into dual-language compositions. The children were native speakers of Urdu, Punjabi, Tamil, Gujarati, Hindi, and Cantonese. Students shared their books with the class by reading them aloud, sharing them at home with family members, and also sharing them electronically with family members living overseas. Results of this study showed an increase in communication and collaboration between teachers, parents, and children as well as an increase in the family's desire to use the native language to instruct their children.

In another study involving student authored texts in two languages, Bernhard and colleagues (2008) examined the effects of identity texts and book sharing on the language and literacy skills of bilingual preschoolers. The Early Authors Project (EAP) involved 1,179 children ages 0-6 in 32 childcare centers in Miami. During the 12-month intervention period, children, teachers, families, and caregivers assisted children in authoring books about themselves and their families. Results of the study showed an increase in the children's expressive and receptive vocabulary as well as an increase in attention span.

Although researchers have investigated the use of dual language identity texts with ELLs in the early childhood years (Bernhard et al., 2008, 2006; Taylor et al., 2008), there is a paucity of research on the use of dual language identity texts with children in the middle childhood years. In addition, previous research does not include ELLs with disabilities. In this study we focused on the composition of dual language identity texts authored by the student, with the help of a bilingual interventionist, and used these texts in book sharing activities with repeated readings. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of the authoring and sharing of dual language identity texts on discourse length and on the lexical diversity of English vocabulary for ELLs who were in third grade. Specifically, the study addressed the following research questions:

1. To what extent does a multi-modal, dual-identity text intervention increase the discourse length as measured by total number of words (TNW) for third grade ELLs during a storytelling activity?

2. To what extent does a multi-modal, dual-identity text intervention increase lexical diversity as measured by number of different words (NDW) for third grade ELLs during a story telling activity?

3. What were the participants' opinions related to the acceptability of the multi-modal dual-text identity intervention?

4. What were the classroom teachers' opinions regarding the efficacy and feasibility of the intervention?


Participants and Setting

Participants were chosen based on teacher recommendation due to below-grade level classroom performance in reading and writing, low English Language Development Assessment scores, and previous participation and lack of sufficient progress in at least two school-based reading interventions. The participants for this study included three third grade students (pseudonyms: Alan, Carlos, and Bianca) who were Spanish-speaking English Language Learners (ELLs), all of Mexican descent, receiving services from the English as a Second Language (ESL) program at their school. They began learning English only after starting school, and had not participated in any classes to support home language development. In addition, all three participants qualified for free or reduced lunch.

Alan. Alan, a Hispanic male, was 9 years and 3 months of age when the study began (see Table 1 for participant demographic information). He had been identified the year before as a student with a learning disability in reading. Born in the United States, Alan had attended U.S. schools from kindergarten through the second grade. He did not attend a pre-K program. Both English and Spanish were spoken in the home.

Carlos. Carlos, a Hispanic male, was 8 years and 9 months old when the study began. Carlos had been identified as a student with a speech-language impairment when he was in Kindergarten. Born in the United States, Carlos had attended U.S. schools from pre-K through the second grade. Spanish was the primary language spoken in the home.

Bianca. Bianca, a Hispanic female, was 8 years and 2 months old when the study began. Bianca had not been identified or even evaluated for a suspected disability but did demonstrate low performance in reading skills. Born in the United States, Bianca had attended U.S. schools from pre-K through the second grade. Both English and Spanish were spoken in the home.

At the end of the previous school year, all three students scored at the "Beginner" level (level 2 out of 5) derived from their composite score on the English Language Development Assessment (ELDA; American Institutes for Research, 2005). The ELDA measures the reading, writing, speaking, and listening abilities of ELLs. Specifically, in the area of reading, two of the participants, Bianca and Alan, scored at level 2 in reading which indicates that they were able to read simple text with comprehension, especially when aided by visual or teacher supports. The other participant, Carlos, scored at level 3 in reading which indicates he was able to read familiar text with less support and that he had oral fluency and was developing self-correcting skills.

The study was conducted in a Title One elementary school in the Southeast which houses pre-K through fifth grade classes. Approximately 650 students attend the school, 78% of which qualify for free and/or reduced lunch services and about 27% of which receive ESL services. All data collection and intervention sessions took place in a small intervention classroom. No other students or adults were in the classroom during intervention or data collection sessions.


The first author served as the interventionist and researcher. At the time of implementation, she was a doctoral student at a local university. The interventionist was also Spanish-English bilingual. She had previous experience conducting research with ELLs and extensive experience teaching ELLs at the elementary level. Trained in the administration of progress monitoring probes and data collection procedures, the researcher also served as the data collector for the study.


Tell Me a Story picture probes. In order to measure increases or decreases in story length and lexical diversity, language samples were elicited through the use of picture probes. Students looked at 8 1/2 x 11 in. pictures depicting people interacting in a scene (e.g., a picnic in a park, a child's birthday party, a soccer game). The research team collected a total of 35 different pictures which were numbered. Using a random number generator website, the research team generated a random list of numbers for each participant from a possible 35 pictures. At the end of each intervention session, the participant told a story about the picture chosen. No picture was used more than once with each participant.

Storybook pages. The interventionist photographed the participants in different locations within the school environment. Pictures were taken of the children eating breakfast in the cafeteria, in transition to classes, playing at recess, etc. These photographs were inserted into Word documents with lines drawn above and below the picture to create 8 1/2 x 11 in. storybook pages that the participants used for writing dual language identity texts, with English at the top and Spanish at the bottom. As the intervention progressed, the pages were put into a notebook for each participant to create a storybook that participants took home to share with family members.

Definition and Measurement of Dependent Variables

The primary dependent variable (DV) for this study was discourse length, measured by the total number of words (TNW). The amount of language used by a child is one indicator of language knowledge and can be measured as the amount of language generated in a set period of time (Bedore, Pena, Gillam, & Ho, 2010). TNW was defined as the total number of complete and intelligible words in a transcript. TNW was measured using transcripts from the stories generated by the participants. At the end of each intervention session, participants were asked to generate a story about a randomly selected picture using a Tell Me a Story Picture Probe. The stories were recorded, transcribed and then the interventionist counted the TNW on each printed transcript. To determine TNW, any word, Spanish or English that was complete or intelligible, was counted. Sound effects and non-words were not counted.

The additional DV that was measured in this study was lexical diversity, measured by the number of different words (NDW). A measure of complexity and productivity, NDW is a direct measure of lexical diversity (Miller, Andriachi, & Nockerts, 2011). NDW was counted in the same transcripts as described above. In order to calculate the NDW, each word in the transcript was counted only the first time it was used, even if the word was used in two different languages.

Language sample analysis is a culturally unbiased, valid assessment measure that captures a speaker's typical and functional language use (Miller et al., 2011). When producing oral narratives (i.e. telling stories), children must integrate various linguistic features and use utterances with varying levels of complexity in combination with an adequate lexicon (Miller et al, 2006). TNW and NDW are appropriate measures because they significantly correlate to age in 3- to 13-year-olds (r=.65- 72; Miller et al, 2011). Therefore, monitoring changes in TNW and NDW provides a window into narrative skill development.

Independent Variable

The intervention used in this study consists of six steps per intervention session. These steps included telling a story in two languages, writing the story in two languages, and reading the story in two languages. During each intervention session, the interventionist presented the participant with a new storybook page and asked them to tell a story about the picture in both English and in Spanish. Next, the participant, with the help of the interventionist, wrote the story that the participant told in both languages on the storybook page. When the story page was complete, the newly authored story page was read aloud in both English and in Spanish. After the first intervention session, all sessions began with the participant reading all previously authored pages.

All intervention sessions ended with an assessment probe (a story generation prompted by a randomly selected picture). Elicitation procedures were the same as those used during baseline. Stories were recorded and transcribed. Because all stories that were generated during the intervention phase were picture based, prompting the participants to generate a story based on a random picture offered insight into their ability to generalize the skills learned from one narrative elicitation context to the other.

Social Validity

Social validity was assessed through surveys that were completed after the study with participants and their teachers. Surveys were administered in English to the participants by their classroom teacher who read the questions aloud. Participants answered questions concerning the efficacy, likeability, and level of difficulty of the intervention. The teachers of the participants completed the surveys on their own and answered questions about the need for and the efficacy of the intervention and their willingness to possibly implement the intervention in their own classroom. The intervention had been explained to the teachers by the interventionist, and student participants had shared their storybooks with their teacher prior to the survey.

Interscorer Agreement

Throughout the study, the first author transcribed the video recordings of the data collection probes (i.e., language samples). The second author served as the second observer to collect interscorer agreement data and coded 39% of randomly selected transcriptions. Transcriptions were considered permanent products and were selected across all participants and study conditions. Interscorer agreement was calculated for the Total Number of Words (TNW) and Number of Different Words (NDW) dependent variables using the total agreement method. For both measures (TNW and NDW), the total agreement was calculated by summing the total number of responses recorded by each observer, dividing the smaller total by the larger total, and multiplying that amount by 100. The mean agreement for TNW was 99% (range = 90-100%) while mean agreement for NDW was 98% (range = 94-100%).

Experimental Design

A multiple baseline across participants design (Kennedy, 2005) was used to evaluate the effects of authoring dual language identity texts and shared book reading on discourse length and lexical diversity in English. The condition sequence was baseline followed by intervention. The baseline condition ranged from three to six data collection points and intervention ranged from eight to fourteen weeks across participants. Total Number of Words (TNW) was the primary dependent variable used to make phase change decisions. During baseline, stable low level or a decreasing trend in TNW resulted in a phase change for participants. The first participant entered intervention as a result of exhibiting a low, stable baseline. For the second and third participants, entrance into the intervention phase occurred after each exhibited a decreasing trend overall during baseline. The intervention was introduced to subsequent participants based on the trend of previous student data during intervention.


Baseline. During baseline data collection, participants were shown a Tell Me a Story Picture Probe and asked to tell a story in English about the presented picture. Participants were administered a minimum of three baseline probes at which point the research team identified the participant with the lowest and most stable baseline data points to begin the intervention. Storytelling measures were administered individually, at a table in an intervention classroom, facing the interventionist. Participants looked at an 8 1/2 x 11 in. picture, chosen from the random numbers list. The interventionist used the following prompt, "Tell me a story about this picture. Tell me the very best story you can." The interventionist video-recorded the participants' responses, and all recordings were transcribed by the interventionist. Then, all transcripts were coded for Total Number of Words (TNW) and Number of Different Words (NDW).

Mis LIBROS. Once baseline had stabilized, participants began the Mis LIBROS (Literacy Intervention: Bilingual Reading and Writing Opportunities) intervention. Intervention sessions occurred twice weekly and lasted approximately 30 min per session. Intervention occurred in a one-on-one setting in an intervention classroom. During the intervention phase, participants, with the help of the interventionist, authored dual language identity texts (bilingual stories about themselves) on the Storybook pages.

Participants were asked to tell a story about the picture on one of the storybook pages which included a photograph of the participant participating in a school activity. The participant told the story out loud in English and then wrote the story in English at the top of the page with assistance from the interventionist. Assistance provided by the interventionist included prompting of the characters, setting and action in the photograph if these elements were missing, and assistance with spelling, punctuation, and word retrieval as prompted by the participant. Since the stories being told by the participants varied, assistance provided to each participant also varied. Authoring in English lasted approximately 7-10 min.

Next, the interventionist asked the participant to tell that same story in Spanish, and the interventionist wrote the Spanish story on the lines below the photograph of the student. Again, assistance provided by the interventionist included prompting of the characters, setting and action in the photograph if these elements were missing, and assistance with spelling, punctuation, and word retrieval as prompted by the participant. Assistance provided to each participant varied according to differences in each participant's story. Authoring in Spanish lasted approximately 7-10 min.

When the storybook page was completed, the interventionist read the authored story aloud in Spanish since participants had not received reading instruction in Spanish, and the participant read the authored page aloud in English. The interventionist provided reading assistance when necessary. Each subsequent intervention session began with the participant rereading all previously authored pages before authoring the new page for that session. The process continued in the same manner for all participants.

Procedural Fidelity

Procedural fidelity data were collected for 33% of the intervention sessions by having an independent observer record on a checklist "yes" or "no" for each of the nine steps included in the intervention. The intervention steps were broadly defined to account for the variety of books used during the intervention sessions. The nine steps included on the fidelity checklist were as follows:

1. Interventionist explains elements of story grammar (characters in session 1, setting in session 2, and action in session 3).

2. Participant reads any previously authored pages.

3. Interventionist gives the prompt "When we tell a story, we tell who is in it, where they are, and what they are doing."

4. Participant authors one page of identity text in English.

5. Interventionist answers questions during authoring time.

6. Participant tells the interventionist how to say his/her story in Spanish and the interventionist writes it on the page.

7. Interventionist answers questions during the Spanish writing section.

8. Interventionist reads the Spanish part of the page aloud.

9. Participant reads the English part of the page aloud.

Intervention sessions were video-recorded and the independent observer completed the procedural fidelity checklists while watching the recorded intervention sessions. A procedural fidelity score was determined by dividing the number of steps accurately followed during a session by nine (i.e., the total number of steps) and multiplying by 100. Procedural fidelity was 100% across all sessions.


Table 2 shows the mean number of TNW and NDW attained in both the baseline and intervention phases. A visual display of results is presented in Figures 1 and 2. Results indicate that two of the three students were able to use increasingly more words and more different words during storytelling probes. To describe the intervention effects, visual analysis was used to examine changes in the data within and between conditions, including level differences.

The level of the data was calculated as the mean within a condition. The means of the baseline and intervention phases show an increase in discourse length and lexical diversity for all three participants with two participants showing a notable increase for both dependent variables.

Total Number of Words

Visual interpretation of Alan's data in Figure 1 shows a level change, although not immediate. Alan began at 27.67 TNW during baseline and increased to a mean of 67.47 TNW during the intervention phase. Alan's data for TNW shows moderate variability but an overall positive trend throughout intervention. Carlos showed the most progress of the three participants. Carlos's data indicates a clear level change and an immediate effect upon implementation of the intervention. In addition, Carlos's data shows low to moderate variability with an overall positive trend throughout intervention. The mean TNW for Carlos during baseline was 52.8 and increased to a mean of 121.63 during intervention. TNW data for Bianca demonstrates very little change in level, a flat trend, and low variability. Bianca's mean TNW during baseline was 51.67, but during intervention it only increased to 55.92.

Number of Different Words

Visual analysis of the NDW data in Figure 2 for Alan, displays a level change that, again is not immediate. Alan's data for NDW shows a more stable pattern with low variability and an overall positive trend throughout intervention. For NDW, Alan obtained a mean of 17.67 words during baseline, and increased to a mean of 45.65 words during intervention. Carlos's data for NDW shows a level change and low variability. For Carlos, NDW data shows a positive trend. For NDW, Carlos started with a mean of 35.8 for baseline and increased to a mean of 59.13 during intervention. Visual inspection of Bianca's data again shows very little change in level, a flat trend, and low variability For NDW, Bianca began with a mean of 33.5 words, and only increased to 35.38 for the intervention phase.

Percentage of non-overlapping data (PND) was collected to further determine treatment effects. PND values over 90% indicate a highly effective treatment (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1998). Likewise, values of 70 to 90 are effective, values of 50 to 70 are questionable, and values below 50 are regarded as an ineffective treatment (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1998). For two of the three participants, high PND values indicate that the intervention was highly effective for them. For TNW, Alan's PND was 94.4%, and Carlos's was 100%. For NDW, Alan's PND was 100% while Carlos's PND was 94%. PND values for Bianca indicate that there was little to no treatment effect associated with the intervention on TNW and NDW (23% and 8% respectively).

Social Validity

Regarding social validity, all three participants indicated that they enjoyed writing the books about themselves in two languages, and that the intervention was helpful. Carlos said that the intervention helped him with his spelling, and Bianca said that it helped her understand how to use punctuation correctly. Alan indicated that it helped him with his reading. The teachers of the participants reported an increase in confidence in the classroom for Bianca and for Carlos. Alan's teacher said that she noticed improvements in his classroom performance during the course of the intervention, but she also noted that the progress he showed was very inconsistent which is reflected in the graph of Alan's data. All teachers expressed their willingness to implement the intervention into their classroom.


Previous studies provide evidence for the association between book sharing interventions (Hargrave & Senechal, 2000) and gains in language skills and the use of bilingual identity texts (Bernhard et al., 2006) and gains in language skills. Although few narrative intervention studies have focused on microstructural aspects, such as TNW and NDW in oral narrative language samples, the purpose of the present study was to determine the effects of a culturally responsive literacy practice on the oral narrative skills of English language learners. Specifically, our research questions asked whether participating in the multi-modal, dual-language identity text intervention would increase the discourse length and lexical diversity of third-grade ELLs as they tell stories.

Results of the current study indicate that two participants made substantial gains in the total number of words and the number of different words produced during a story generation activity following participation in the intervention. These results support the findings of Bernhard et al.'s (2006) Early Author's Project, an intervention that utilized dual language identity texts, which showed increases in language and language development scores. Our results indicate that interventions targeting the oral narrative skills of ELLs, with the support of the students' native language, can engage students in the creation of texts that are meaningful to them and produce improvements in narrative skills and language development in their second language.

Notwithstanding the substantial gains made by Alan and Carlos in TNW and TDW, one participant, Bianca, did not display the same results. While Bianca showed increases in TNW and NDW, her gains were not substantial. While the intervention itself was implemented in both languages, language measures were elicited only in English. It is possible that Bianca may have shown higher gains in Spanish language samples. Language dominance often depends on the context of the task (Valdes & Figueroa, 1994), and if Bianca were unfamiliar with certain contexts, it may have had an effect on her L2 performance. Since a language dominance level was not included in the study, it is not known whether Bianca's dominant language was Spanish or English.

Another explanation may have been related to the motivation to tell stories related to the picture probes. Because a lack of motivation can confound skill in story generation (Spencer & Slocum, 2010), it is not certain that the participants' true abilities were captured in the language samples for every probe. Although pictures for the probes were chosen to depict everyday activities that children would be able to discuss, pictures were randomly selected at the time of assessment. It may be that the participant did not have knowledge of the type of activity depicted in a particular picture, or participants may not have been motivated to tell a particular story

Another possible contributing factor to the difference in outcomes between participants could be that Alan and Carlos were receiving special education services (for reading and language) during the time of intervention. It is possible that an intensive focus on reading and language in the special education classroom may have enhanced the practice in storytelling that they were receiving during intervention sessions while Bianca only received intervention service.

It is encouraging that findings from the present multiple baseline study revealed that two of the three students increased the total number of words (measuring discourse length) and the number of different words (measuring lexical diversity) they used during a storytelling probe. These preliminary results provide support for the intervention, but further investigation is needed.

Just as with monolingual children, there is a significant predictive relationship between oral narrative skills and reading outcomes for children learning a second language (August & Shanahan, 2006; Miller et al, 2006). Given the strong relationship between oral narratives and reading, it is important to ensure that young children, including ELLs, develop sufficient oral narrative skills.

Limitations and Directions for Future Research

There were several limitations to this study that need to be discussed. First, a standardized measure of language ability was not included as part of the inclusion criteria for participants. Perhaps, if all participants had been given a measure of narrative abilities, students of more similar ability could have been included. Second, while participants' length of narratives increased, the quality of the narratives did not necessarily increase. Some language samples contained only labeling behaviors (e.g., "I see a soccer ball, and a soccer player, and people watching."). Further, while discourse length did increase, longer language samples would produce more sensitive measures of oral language skills.

Future studies examining the effectiveness of dual language identity texts should include a component that addresses narrative quality such as explicit instruction of story structures. Additionally, perhaps the use of wordless picture books as story generation prompts would provide more material that can be expanded on for story generations. Furthermore, including a component that uses explicit instruction of vocabulary may be more effective in increasing lexical diversity. Common Core State Standards include expectations related to the ability to recount an experience or retell details from a text read aloud as well as writing explanatory texts and sequences of events. It may be more beneficial to use story retells rather than story generations as the language sample. It is difficult to compel participants to say more about a story without additional prompting. Moreover, it is difficult to know whether children have the knowledge to generate a story about a randomly selected topic. Story retells involve listening to a story and then retelling it. The story has already been generated.

Third, the intervention may be more motivating and effective if the identity texts were written about an actual experience that the participants had such as a field trip or a science experiment, making the narrative more like a story retell than a story generation. Finally, it would be of considerable interest to examine the effectiveness of a dual language intervention in which pairs of students who speak the same native language work together to compose their texts. This may be a practical and efficient format for the delivery of the intervention, especially in classrooms where the teacher does not speak the home language of the child.

It is also important to note that while increased language production in the current study could possibly be related to growing familiarity with the interventionist, the use of the multiple baseline design in which the introduction of the intervention is staggered across students instructed by the same interventionist, helped to control for threats to internal validity. In addition, the resulting data do not suggest an increase in language production during baseline.

Implications for Practice

There are several practical implications of the Mis LIBROS intervention. First, Mis LIBROS is a culturally responsive intervention that supports first language development and engages students by valuing their home language and their culture. It scaffolds their learning by connecting literacy to their background knowledge while affirming their diverse identities. In addition, Mis LIBROS can provide an inexpensive and effective means of supporting oral language development for ELLs in the classroom.

This intervention tool can be differentiated in ways that best meet the needs of diverse students. It could be used in the classroom to provide additional practice of skills learned during whole-group instruction. It could be used to reflect on classroom experiences, process new knowledge, or to engage families in literacy activities, and it can be implemented in multiple languages.

In conclusion, these results provide preliminary support for the efficacy of dual language identity texts with low-income, third grade bilingual students. These results provide additional support for the use of shared-reading interventions to target children's oral language skills (Lonigan, Shanahan, & Cunningham, 2008). Further, these results demonstrate that authoring and reading dual-language texts is a literacy practice that is enjoyable and engaging and can enhance the use of expressive language development and vocabulary knowledge. (Bernhard et al., 2006). The study reinforces the importance of enabling students to share their lived experiences through multi-modal literacy narratives (Biner & Kotsopoulous, 2011; Cummins, 2004).


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Rhonda D. Miller

Coastal Carolina University

Sara Moore Mackiewicz

Clemson University

Vivian I. Correa

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Address correspondence to: Rhonda D. Miller, 100 Tom Trout Dr. 119-1 Prince, Coastal Carolina University, Conway, SC 29528. E-mail:

Caption: Figure 1. Total Number of Words on proximal measure during baseline and intervention.

Caption: Figure 2. Number of Different Words on proximal measure during baseline and intervention.
Table 1
Participant Demographic Information

Participant   Age    Race    Gender   Country    Years in   Disability
                             (M/F)   of Origin   American

Alan          9:3  Hispanic    M        USA       K--2nd       SLD

Carlos        8:2  Hispanic    M        USA     Pre-K--2nd      SU

Bianca        8:9  Hispanic    F        USA     Pre-K--2nd     none

Note. SLD = specific learning disability; SLI = speech-language

Table 2

Participant Mean and Range Scores during Experimental Conditions

Participant   Dependent           Baseline           Intervention

              Variable      Mean     Range       Mean       Range

Alan             TNW       27.67     20-25      67.47       20-110
                 NDW       17.67     16-19      45.65       17-64

Carlos           TNW        52.8     44-61      121.63      79-210
                 NDW        35.8     33-40      59.13       40-92

Bianca           TNW       51.67     34-65      55.92       40-70
                 NDW        33.5     23-42      35.38       27-46
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Author:Miller, Rhonda D.; Mackiewicz, Sara Moore; Correa, Vivian I.
Publication:Education & Treatment of Children
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2017
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