Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Major Professor

R. Michael Barker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Maria R. Brea-Spahn, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kyna S. Betancourt, Ph.D.


assessment, bilingual children, computerized, dynamic, emergent literacy, phonological awareness, Spanish-speaking


The Hispanic population within the United States has grown to a considerable amount. The state of Florida’s population is 25% Hispanic, with projected estimates of this population continuing to grow in the coming years (Ortman & Shin, 2011). Statistics show that 28.3% of the state’s population, over the age of five, speak a language other than English at home. With this considerable number of Spanish-speakers comes the responsibility to adjust certain educational practices to best meet their needs. Literacy is an essential part of learning, and therefore assessing early literacy is an essential part to any child’s academic development.

Phonological awareness is the ability to manipulate and identify the phonological segments of a word (Blachman, Tangel, Ball, Black & Mcgraw, 1999). It is a strong predictor for early literacy abilities (Bradley & Bryant, 1983, Kozminsky & Kozminsky, 1995, Vandervelden & Siegel 1997). This relationship between phonological awareness and early literacy exists within the English language, and also within many other alphabetic languages such as Spanish (Anthony, Williams, McDonald, Corbitt-Shindler, Carlson, & Francis, 2006). Therefore, phonological awareness shares an important relationship to early literacy abilities for both English and Spanish speakers.

There are many morphological, phonological, syntactical, and lexical subtleties that exist between varied dialects of the Spanish language. Vocabulary and lexicon use has been shown to positively influence phonological awareness skills in young children. Dialectical classifications of the participants were determined through use of different dialect specific vocabulary word list in the Linguistic and Cultural Background Survey. This study sought to evaluate whether dialectical differences among young Spanish-English bilinguals were associated with performance on measures of phonological awareness and reading.

Twelve participants (children ages 3.17 years to 7.5 years and their parents participated in the study. Children completed a short form of the dynamic assessment of phonological awareness in Spanish (Loreti, 2015), the Letter-Word Identification of the Woodcock-Muñoz Language Survey-Revised (WMLS-R; Woodcock et al., 2005), the Elision, Rapid Automatic Naming, and Letter Name/Letter Sound subtests from the Test of Phonological Sensitivity in Spanish (TOPSS; Brea et al., 2003) and the Preschool Language Scales, Fifth Edition Spanish Screening Test (PLS-5; Zimmerman et al., 2011). Parents completed a Linguistic and Cultural Background Survey designed to identify potential dialectical differences among the children.

Results from the Linguistic and Cultural Background Survey indicated that all participants used the dialect consistent with Central America, and six additionally used lexical features of dialects outside of Central America. Consequently, children were categorized into either a Central group or a Central Plus group. The Central group indicated the use of words specific to the Central American dialect of Spanish. The Central Plus group indicated use of Central American dialect specific words, as well as words specific to Standard and Caribbean dialects of Spanish. These two groups were compared on the assessments of phonological awareness and early literacy. The results indicated that there were no statistically significant differences on any of the assessments between the dialect groups. Although the comparisons on the measures of Letter Word Identification Subtest and Letter Name Letter Sound subtest demonstrated medium effect sizes in favor of the Central plus another dialect group, and Rapid Automatic Naming demonstrated a medium effect in favor of the Central only group. Further investigation is needed to demonstrate these medium effects to a greater extent.