Young Spanish-Speaking English Learners' Interest and Attitudes Towards Reading

Project Overview

During my sophomore year at Florida State University, from August 2015 through March 2016, I conducted research within the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders through the Undergraduate Reasearch Opportunity Program (UROP). I worked as a research assistant to a Ph. D student and an FSU professor. We sought to examine the relationship between reading attitudes and language, and the literacy outcomes of Spanish-speaking English learners (ELs) in kindergarten and first grade. My job was to help administer surveys and to collect, record, and analyze the data. Additionally, I had the opportunity to present our poster at the Undergraduate Research Symposium and FSU's National Student Speech Language and Hearing Assocation (NSSLHA) Conference. Please feel free to contact me for the detailed poster of research methods/findings and reference material.

Background and Research Questions

Children’s attitudes toward reading is widely recognized as an important influencing factor in reading performance and academic achievement. Studies suggest that reading attitude plays a role in the development of reading skills, frequency of practice, and engagement and motivation (McKenna & Kear, 1990; McKenna, Kear, & Ellsworth, 1995). However motivation and interest in reading is not often an intrinsic quality that students bring to classroom instruction (Paris & Turner, 1995). Various factors in the literacy environment at home and in school can influence students’ reading attitude (Paris & Turner, 1995; Hammer, Miccio, & Wagstaff, 2013). There are currently gaps in the literature regarding the specific factors that influence reading attitude and the direction of its relationship to reading achievement, and studies have primarily focused on monolinguals. The present examined the relationship between reading attitude and language and literacy outcomes of Spanish-speaking English learners (ELs) in kindergarten and first grade. Specifically, the goal of the study was to address the following questions:

1) What are the attitudes of Spanish-English speaking ELs towards recreational and academic reading?

2) Are there differences between kindergarten and first grade ELs in their attitudes and interest in readings?

3) Are there differences between male and female ELs in their attitudes and interest in reading?

  • Kindergarten and 1st grade ELL students were pulled into small groups of 3 or 4 and were administered the Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (ERAS). Research assistants read aloud scripted directions for completing the survey in English and Spanish. Survey questions were also read aloud in English and Spanish.

  • Students answered 21 questions by coloring in the Garfield that depicted the emotion they felt about the reading questions. Scores were calculated using the numbers 1 through 4 that corresponded with each emotion (1 = very upset, 2 = slightly upset, 3 = slightly happy, 4 = very happy).

  • The recreational and academic totals were added up separately and then were combined to obtain the composite ERAS total score for each survey. The surveys were then cross-checked by a team of research assistants to assure accuracy of scoring.

  • The final numerical data was entered and compiled into a data set and analyzed to find information regarding children’s attitudes toward reading.

Conclusions & Key Findings

In conclusion, we found that there were no significant differences between grade levels, gender, nor academic vs. recreational. Generally, we discovered that most of the reading attitudes were positive, despite potential language barriers. Ultimately, educators should be mindful to provide supportive literacy experiences in teh classroom to help foster positive reading attitudes in Spanish-speaking ELs. More research is needed to determine which factors uniquely contribute to such attitudes. Further research is also needed to examine the relation between reading attitudes and language and literacy performance.