Oral Language and Reading in Bilingual Children


Requests for reprints should be sent to Jon F. Miller, 347 Goodnight Hall, 1975 Willow Dr., University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706. Electronic inquiries may be sent to Miller@waisman.wisc.edu.


This article examines the question: Do lexical, syntactic, fluency, and discourse measures of oral language collected under narrative conditions predict reading achievement both within and across languages for bilingual children? More than 1,500 Spanish–English bilingual children attending kindergarten–third grade participated. Oral narratives were collected in each language along with measures of Passage Comprehension and Word Reading Efficiency. Results indicate that measures of oral language in Spanish predict reading scores in Spanish and that measures of oral language skill in English predict reading scores in English. Cross-language comparisons revealed that English oral language measures predicted Spanish reading scores and Spanish oral language measures predicted English reading scores beyond the variance accounted for by grade. Results indicate that Spanish and English oral language skills contribute to reading within and across languages.