This study reports
five years of a school readiness intervention called “HABLA” (Home Based Activities
Building Language Acquisition), designed to increase and enrich speech and
literacy activities in the homes of economically and educationally disadvantaged
Latino families with children between the age of 2 and 4. A team of trained
home visitors provided two years of a 23-week program of visitation in which
they met with parent(s) and child twice weekly. Both years presented a Spanish
language adaptation of the parent-child home program model; home visitors
provide intensive modeling and coaching of non-directive Spanish language use,
conversation, and literacy activities. Administration of the PLS-3 in Spanish
at the onset and culmination of each year of the program indicates significant
increases in receptive and expressive language for each year of visitation (7.8
standard points for the first year, 4.4 for the second) with effect-size r
ranging from .24 to 42. Participants had significantly improved their levels of
oral Spanish skill and scored much higher than a comparison group of
non-treated. A subset of graduates of the two-year program was tested as
kindergarteners; they showed a continued advantage over a comparison group of 18
peers who had not received the intervention. For the graduates, both their
Spanish PLS-3 scores and English PLS-4 scores were significantly higher, and
their parents reported a continued effort to provide literacy experiences at
home. The HABLA participants also showed a clear advantage for an English
language test of phonological awareness, one of the strongest predictors of
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