Effects of Immersion Programs on Native-Language Literacy

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CIED: Critical Review of Professional Journal Articles
Haylee Roy
March 24, 2011
Contemporary Issues in Language Teaching and Learning:

Effects of Immersion Programs on Native-Language Literacy
I. Bibliographic Entries
Cunningham, Thomas C., and C. Ray Graham. “Increasing Native English Vocabulary Recognition Through Spanish Immersion: Cognate Transfer from Foreign to First Language.” Journal of Educational Psychology. 92.1 (2000): 37-49. Print. Cited as (Cunningham and Graham, 37-49)

Harper, Sarah Nicole. “Narrowing the Gap in Early Literacy for French Immersion Students: The Effects of a Family Literacy Intervention on Grade 1 Children’s English and French Literacy Development.” (A thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the Degree of Doctor in Philosophy Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto). (2010): 1-109. Print. Cited as (Harper, 1-109)

Reading, Suzanne. “Differential Effects of French and Spanish Immersion Education on English Literacy Skills.” Bilingual Research Journal. 31. (2008): 115-145. Print. Cited as (Reading, 115-145)

II. Nature of the Problem
The authors of the journal articles listed above are all concerned with the effects of foreign language immersion on native language literacy. There have been studies all around the world related to this topic that allow us to see if immersion in another language truly benefits the native language development of the students. Through the studies made in an effort to prove or disprove the hypotheses in the journal articles , we are able to view statistics based on a variety of ages, treatments, socio-economic statuses, and differences in gender. There are many factors that play a role in the outcomes of the studies made about the effects of foreign language immersion on the literacy of a native language.

Most language-immersion research conducted in both Canada and the United States have showed that children who have experienced immersion are, on average, equal or superior to their peers in “native-language vocabulary, comprehension, and expression” (Cunningham and Graham, 37-49). Suzanne Reading, Butler University, takes this a step further and made a case that the English literacy skills of the children enrolled in a Spanish program were consistently better than the English literacy skills of the children enrolled in a French program. However, other experiments reveal that factors such as parental involvement and socioeconomic status play a vital role in the outcomes of these studies.

Overall, the nature of the problem consists of the following questions: 1) Do immersion students truly have increased English language literacy than do non-immersion students? 2) How do other factors play a role in the outcomes of the studies made to prove Question #1? 3) Do Spanish immersion students have better English literacy skills than do French immersion students?

III. Experiments, Situations, and Analyses
Article #1: “Increasing Native English Vocabulary Recognition through Spanish Immersion: Cognate Transfer from Foreign to First Language”| The purpose of the studies in this journal article by Cunningham and Graham is to “examine the effects that developing Spanish proficiency in an immersion program has on the native vocabulary of its English-speaking participants” (Cunningham and Graham, 37-49). Before discussing their experiment, however, it is necessary it understand the background for which they decided to study this topic. Cunningham and Graham analyzed the first Canadian immersion program, Lambert and Tucker (1972). They utilized the PPVT1 in both English and a translated version in French to observe the receptive vocabulary of young students who had partaken in immersion courses. The authors discovered that the immersion students understood the English words consistently better and that the greater part of the words had French...
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