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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 school success.
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