Latino dual language children typically enter school with a wide range of proficiencies in Spanish and English, many with low proficiency in both languages, yet do make gains in one or both languages during their first school years. Dual language development is associated with how language is used at home and school, as well as the type of instructional program children receive at school. The present study investigates how changes in both Spanish and English proficiencies of Latino, second-generation immigrant children (n = 163) from kindergarten to second grade relate to instructional program type as well as language use at home and school. A series of MANCOVAs demonstrated significant dual language gains in children who were in bilingual classrooms and schools where Spanish was used among the teachers, students, and staff. Furthermore, only in classrooms where both Spanish and English were used did children reach age-appropriate levels of academic proficiency in both languages. Home language use was also significantly associated with dual language gains as was maternal Spanish vocabulary knowledge before controlling for maternal education. Educational implications and potential benefits associated with bilingualism are discussed.
Home Environment and Language Practices