Campus: CSU Long Beach -- April 29, 2005
Cal State Long Beach College of Education Receives $1.975 Million
Grant from National Institute of Child Health, Human Development
The College of Education at California State University, Long Beach has been
awarded a four-year, $1.975 million grant by the National Institute of Child Health
and Human Development (NICHD) for a project that will look at factors that have
the potential to influence literacy development among Spanish-speaking children
"Titled Language and Literacy Development Among Mexican Children," the project will
specifically look for factors that might differentiate the development of reading
and related skills in English and Spanish. Among those factors are syllabic
awareness as a mediator of phonemic awareness, family literacy practices including
the traditional practice of storytelling, and access to literacy resources in the
"The objective of the project is to study language and literacy development among
600 children in grades 1 through 3 in Mexico," said Leslie Reese, co-principal
investigator for the project and a professor of teacher education at CSULB. "We
hope it will allow us to understand more about the development of language and
literacy skills in a cultural and linguistic context that is substantially different
from that of the United States."
The project is a collaborative effort with CSULB as the lead institution. Among the
other partners are the University of Houston, Temple University and, most
importantly according to Reese, the Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores
del Oeste, or ITESO, a private Jesuit university in Guadalajara, Mexico.
This new project is complementary to another program CSULB has been involved with
for about four years. In that other program, which again includes the University
of Houston and Temple University, researchers are looking at language and literacy
development in both languages (English and Spanish) among Spanish-speaking children
in the United States, studying children at sites in California and Texas.
"In the U.S.-based project, we've been looking at school, home and community factors
and how all of those things influence Spanish-speaking children's language and
literacy development here, but we were very interested in studying the same set
of issues with the same set of measures among Spanish-speaking children who are in
a completely Spanish-speaking environment," Reese explained. "To our knowledge,
that has not been done yet. So, one of the goals of this project is that
comparison - to be able to look at and compare children's Spanish development in
a predominately English-speaking environment and their Spanish development in a
predominately Spanish-speaking development."
Students will be sampled from three public schools in different contexts in a
metropolitan area in Mexico: (1) a predominantly working class area with indigenous
cultural influences; (2) a mixed working and middle class community with a large
percentage of the population with family ties to the United States; and (3) a
predominantly middle class community.
Children's language and literacy skills will be assessed at the beginning and end
of the year, and there will be observers in classrooms five times each year - three
times with coded observation protocols used in the U.S. studies and twice with
ethnographic protocols designed to identify features of Mexican classrooms that
pre-coded protocols might not assess.
"In terms of measurement, I think this study is going to help advance the field of
education those children whose first language is Spanish," Reese pointed out. "What
we have done up to this point, we have assessed the children in English using
English norms, and we have assessed the children in Spanish using Spanish norms.
We treat it as if the children have two languages that we can assess separately,
but when children are growing up with two languages, growing up bilingually, it's
"They may have some concepts that they can express in one language, some concepts
that they can express in the other language, and some that can be expressed in
both languages," she added. "And the Spanish that is used in bilingual settings
in this country most likely differs in some ways from the Spanish used on standard