CeLM and the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences are happy to announce a research seminar on September 29th at 1.00pm. Professor Pascale Engel de Abreu (University of Luxembourg) will be giving the following talk.

Evaluation of a home language intervention for language-minority students: a controlled trial

This study evaluates a 30-week oral language intervention in the home language for children who speak a minority language in an exploratory randomized controlled trial. Participants were 186 Portuguese-speaking children (Mage = 4;7) from 16 Kindergartens in Luxembourg. Children were randomly allocated to either an oral language intervention in Portuguese or an early mathematics intervention in the school language Luxembourgish. Both interventions were administered to small-groups, four times per week by trained and supported interventionists. The oral language program in Portuguese included instruction in vocabulary, oral narrative, phonological awareness and letter knowledge. Children were assessed pre-intervention, immediately post-intervention and at a nine months follow-up using measures of oral language (Portuguese, Luxembourgish, German), reading (German) and mathematics (Luxembourgish). Immediately post intervention, children in the oral language group demonstrated improvements compared to the active controls on the Portuguese measures of taught vocabulary, with generalized gains observed in oral narrative, phoneme awareness and letter knowledge. The gains in taught vocabulary and phoneme awareness were maintained at nine months delayed follow-up. The home language intervention also produced effects that generalized to receptive vocabulary and phoneme awareness in Luxembourgish at the end of the intervention, though there were no significant improvements in German oral language or reading. The findings suggest that intervention programs designed to support the home language when it is not the language used in school or the majority community can be implemented successfully in mainstream Kindergartens. Continued support in the home language did not undermine the development in a second or a third language.