Date of Award:

12-2009

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Advisor/Chair:

Helen E Berry

Abstract

The purpose of this research is to examine the relationship between family structure including family size, number of parents at home, and presence of an older sibling at home, and the language development of young Latino children. I used data from the Head Start--Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) year 2000, which included information on 746 Latino preschool children and their families in different Head Start programs nationwide. A subgroup of 369 children were identified as English-language learners (ELL) because they were determined to be primarily Spanish speaking. Some of the findings indicate that more than two thirds of children (69%) who do not have two parents at home are primarily English speakers and more than two thirds of children (68%) who have two parents at home are primarily Spanish speakers. Independent sample t tests indicate there are statistically significant differences between Latino primarily Spanish speakers and Latino primarily English speakers on vocabulary and early literacy outcomes. Family background variables such as English language proficiency of parents and parent education are important factors that affect early language and literacy development of their children. In addition, family structure variables have some effects on these outcomes. The variables family poverty and family size, specifically having an older sibling, had negative impacts only on the primarily English-speaking group. The most influential social factors for the Latino primarily English-speaking preschool children's language and literacy outcomes are different than the most influential social factors for the same outcomes of their primarily Spanish-speaking preschooler counterparts who in general experience less favorable outcomes overall.

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