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Spanish–English dual language profiles (Su et al., 2022)

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posted on 2022-07-01, 23:03 authored by Pumpki Lei Su, Raúl Rojas, Aquiles Iglesias

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify and describe latent dual language profiles in a large sample of school-age Spanish–English bilingual children designated as English learners (ELs) by their school district.

Method: Data for this study include 847 Spanish-speaking ELs from kindergarten to third grade. Spanish and English narrative retell language samples were collected from all participants. Four oral language measures were calculated in Spanish and English, including the subordination index, moving average type–token ratio, narrative structure scheme (NSS), and words per minute using Systematic Analysis of Language Transcript. These indicator measures were used in a latent profile analysis to identify dual language profiles.

Results: The optimal model represents a four-profile solution, including a Spanish-dominant group (average Spanish, low English), an English-dominant group (low Spanish, average English), and two balanced groups (a balanced-average group and a balanced-high group). Additionally, participants displayed uneven performance across language domains and distinct patterns of unique strength or weakness in a specific domain in one of their two languages.

Conclusions: Findings from this study highlight the large variability in English and Spanish oral language abilities in school-age Spanish-speaking ELs and suggest that a dichotomous classification of ELs versus English-proficient students may not be sufficient to determine the type of educational program that best fits a specific bilingual child’s need. These findings highlight the need to assess both languages across multiple language domains to paint a representative picture of a bilingual child’s language abilities. The dual language profiles identified may be used to guide the educational program selection process to improve the congruence among the linguistic needs of an individual child, teachers’ use of instructional language, and the goals of the educational program (i.e., improving English proficiency vs. supporting dual language development).

Supplemental Material S1. Summary of the number of participants excluded in each step of the exclusion criteria and the distribution of excluded participants from each school district. 

Su, P. L., Rojas, R., & Iglesias, A. (2022). Dual language profiles in Spanish-speaking English learners. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication.


This research has been supported in part by Grants R305U010001 and P01HD39521 (jointly funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Institute of Education Sciences).