Early EFL Instruction and L1 Literacy

Keywords: bilingualism, English as a foreign language, literacy, public schools (en_US)

Abstract (en_US)

This study investigates the relationship between early English as a foreign language (EFL) learning and L1 literacy development in Mexican public schools. Researchers sought confirmatory findings about whether and in which ways early EFL exposure may affect students’ L1 literacy skills via a study evaluating the L1 Spanish literacy of 61 first graders using an adapted literacy assessment. Experimental group participants received EFL instruction during grades K-1, and those in the control group did not. A one-way independent samples comparison of means on the literacy assessment revealed that participants from the experimental group who had received EFL instruction scored significantly higher on all sections of the assessment than those participants in the control group. Results may inform programmatic decision-making about simultaneous or sequential approaches on the impact of early EFL on biliteracy development, with broader implications that examine who has access to early EFL instruction, and whether it will ultimately lead to higher L2 proficiency.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Kristen M Lindahl, University of Texas at San Antonio

Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies

Assistant Professor

Peter Sayer, The Ohio State University

Associate Professor

Department of Teaching & Learning



Aikens, N.L. and Barbarin, O. (2008). Socioeconomic differences in reading trajectories: The contribution of family, neighborhood, and school contexts. Journal of Educational Psychology 100(2): 235-251.

August, D., Carlo, M., Dressler, C., & Snow, C. (2005). The critical role of vocabulary development for English language learners. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 20(1), 50-57.

August, D., Shanahan, T., & Escamilla, K. (2009). English language learners: Developing literacy in second-language learners—Report of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth. Journal of Literacy Research, 41(4), 432-452.

Author. (2015a).

Author. (2015b).

Bialystok, E., & Barac, R. (2012). Emerging bilingualism: Dissociating advantages for metalinguistic awareness and executive control. Cognition, 122(1), 67-73.

Cárdenes-Hagan, E., Carlson, C. D., & Pollard-Durodola, S. D. (2007). The cross-linguistic transfer of early literacy skills: The role of initial L1 and L2 skills and language of instruction. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 12(3), 249-259.

Chiu, M. M., & Chow, B. (2014). Classmate characteristics and student achievement in 33 countries: Classmates' past achievement, family socioeconomic status, educational resources, and attitudes towards reading. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(1), 152-169.

Council of Europe. (2001). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Cummins, J. (1979). Linguistic interdependence and the educational development of bilingual children. Review of educational research, 49(2), 222-251.

Ellis, R. (2008). Understanding second language acquisition. Oxford, UK: Oxford Press.

Enever, J. (2012). Current policy issues in early foreign language learning. CEPS Journal, 2(3), 9-26.

Escamilla, K., Hopewell, S., Butvilofsky, S., Sparrow, W., Soltero-González, L., Ruiz-Figueroa, O., & Escamilla, M. (2014). Biliteracy from the start: Literacy squared in action. Philadelphia, PA: Caslon.

Escamilla, K., Hopewell, S., Geisler, D., & Ruiz, O. (2007). Transitions to biliteracy: Beyond Spanish and English. American Educational Research Association.

Genesee, F., Geva, E., Dressler, C., & Kamil, M. (2006). Synthesis: Cross-linguistic relationships. In D. August & D. Shanahan (Eds.), Developing literacy in second-language learners (pp. 153-174). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Geva, E. and Wang, M. (2001). The development of basic reading skills in children: A cross-linguistic perspective. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 21, 182-204.

Goldenberg, C., Tolar, T. D., Reese, L., Francis, D. J., Bazán, A. R., & Mejía-Arauz, R. (2014). How important is teaching phonemic awareness to children learning to read in Spanish?. American Educational Research Journal, 51(3), 604-633.

Hamid, M. O. (2010). Globalisation, English for everyone and English teacher capacity: Language policy discourses and realities in Bangladesh. Current Issues in Language Planning, 11(4), 289-310.

He, A. E. 2011. Educational decentralisation: A review of popular discourse on Chinese-English bilingual education. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 31: 91–105.

Herrera, S. G., Perez, D. R., & Escamilla, K. (2011). Teaching Reading to English Language Learners: Differentiating Literacies. Boston, MA: Pearson Higher Ed.

Hull, G. A. & Moje, E.B. (2012). What is the development of literacy the development of? In Hakuta, K. and M. Santos (Eds.). Understanding language: Language, literacy, and learning in the content areas, 52-63.

Knell, E., Qiang, H., Pei, M., Chi, Y., Siegel, L. S., Zhao, L., & Zhao, W. (2007). Early English immersion and literacy in Xi'an, China. The Modern Language Journal, 91 (3), 395-417.

Nikolov, M., & Djigunovic, J. M. (2006). Recent research on age, second language acquisition, and early foreign language learning. Annual review of applied linguistics, 26, 234.

Páez, M., & Rinaldi, C. (2006). Predicting English word reading skills for Spanish-speaking students in first grade. Topics in Language Disorders, 26(4), 338-350.

Boyle, O., & Peregoy, S. (2016). Reading, writing and learning in ESL. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Proctor, C. P., August, D., Carlo, M. S., & Snow, C. (2006). The intriguing role of Spanish language vocabulary knowledge in predicting English reading comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(1), 159.

Proctor, C. P., August, D., Snow, C., & Barr, C. D. (2011). The interdependence continuum: A perspective on the nature of Spanish-English bilingual reading comprehension. Bilingual Research Journal, 33(1), 5-20. doi: 10.1080/15235881003733209

Schleppegrell, M. J. (2007). The linguistic challenges of mathematics teaching and learning: A research review. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 23(2), 139-159.

Sparks, R., Patton, J., Ganschow, L., & Humbach, N. (2009). Long-term crosslinguistic transfer from L1 to L2. Language Learning, 59(1), 203-243.

Temple, C., Ogle, D. Crawford, A., Freppon, P. (2008). All children read: Teaching for literacy in today’s diverse classrooms. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Van Lier, L., & Walqui, A. (2012). Language and the common core state standards. Understanding Language: Commissioned Papers on Language and Literacy Issues in the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards, 94, 44.

Woodcock, R.W., and Muñoz-Sandoval, A.F. (1995). Woodcock Language Proficiency Battery-Revised: Spanish Form. Riverside Publishing; Itasca, IL: 1995.

Wright, W. (2010). Foundations for teaching English language learners: Research, theory, policy, and practice. Philadelphia, PA: Caslon.

How to Cite
Lindahl, K. M., & Sayer, P. (2018). Early EFL Instruction and L1 Literacy. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 20(2), 170-184. https://doi.org/10.14483/22487085.12900
Published: 2018-07-31
Research Articles