Young dual language learners are considered at higher risk than their monolingual peers in terms of language skills and school readiness. A recent cluster-randomized controlled study published in Child Development investigated the effectiveness of a book-based language intervention – the Extend program – on bilingual children’s second-language skills in Norway.
The Extend program is a loosely scripted intervention intended to support children’s language skills including vocabulary, grammar, narrative skills, and perspective-taking. 464 children from 60 preschools, who spoke a variety of first languages, participated in the study. Teachers used 15 books in the classroom for this shared-reading intervention, and 4 were sent home so that parents could share them with their children in their preferred language.
- The results indicated that the intervention had positive impacts on children’s second-language learning in general. In particular, the intervention had significant effects on second-language vocabulary (four indicators, ES= +0.24 to +0.87) and grammar skills (ES=+0.34).
- The findings also suggested that the intervention improved children’s ability to shift perspectives and understand others’ emotions, which is important to children’s socioemotional development and text comprehension. Thus, the authors emphasized the usefulness of the perspective-taking components of the intervention in supporting children’s second-learning learning.
- In addition, the outcomes showed that the intervention supported children’s first-language skills on vocabulary that appeared in the books sent home. Also, the results implied an indirect effect of the intervention on second-language vocabulary via first-language vocabulary.
Source: Grøver, V., Rydland, V., Gustafsson, J. E., & Snow, C. E. (2020). Shared book reading in preschool supports bilingual children’s second‐language learning: A cluster‐randomized trial. Child development, 91(6), 2192-2210.