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Cognitive study shows lack of bilingual education adversely affects English language learners’ writing skills


LAWRENCE — As the number of Spanish-speaking English learners has increased in U.S. schools, research and attention have focused on how to boost students’ reading and speaking skills. A first-of-its-kind study from the University of Kansas has examined three key cognitive functions and their role in learning to write, showing that a lack of focus on bilingual education has contributed to Hispanic English learners falling behind. The KU study showed specifically how important word retrieval skills, verbal language skills and ability to store information in memory are key in the population’s writing ability. The research, co-written by Anqi Peng, doctoral student in educational psychology at KU; Michael Orosco, associate professor in educational psychology at KU; Hui Wang, doctoral student in educational psychology at KU; H. Lee Swanson of the University of New Mexico; and Deborah Reed of the University of Iowa, was published in the Journal of Educational Psychology , which is currently ranked No. 1 in Google Scholar Metrics for Educational Psychology & Counseling journals .

Using structural equation modeling with Software R, KU researchers analyzed a battery of tests given to 374 students in grades 3-5 in both Spanish and English and an assigned writing task in English […]

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