Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Most studies of Dual Language Learners’ (DLLs’) literacy development focus on the early childhood years. As such, this three-study dissertation sought to advance our knowledge of DLLs’ English language and reading comprehension skills during early adolescence, a developmental stage when many students struggle with reading. Study 1, “Classroom Discussion and Early-Adolescent Dual Language Learners’ Motivation and Reading Comprehension”, considered how features of the classroom language environment promote DLLs’ reading comprehension skills. We examined relations between students’ (N = 413; M age = 11.66-years-old) engagement in high-quality classroom discussions and reading comprehension as a function of their motivation to participate in classroom discussion. Given that teachers’ questioning practices shape students’ opportunities to engage in high-quality discussions, we also characterized teachers’ (N = 32; M age = 36.531 years old) questioning practices across the school year and examined how teachers’ questioning was related to their students’ reading comprehension. Study 2, “Bilingual Language Skills and Early-Adolescent Dual Language Learners’ Reading Comprehension”, examined how DLLs’ (N = 19; M age = 11.84-years-old) oral language skills (i.e., vocabulary, syntax) in English and Spanish were related to their English reading comprehension skills. Study 3, “Bi-literacy and Motivation as Predictors of Bilingual Students’ Talk During Classroom Discussion”, investigated how DLLs’ (N = 121; M age = 12.12-years-old) motivation to participate in classroom discussion was related to their amount of talk during discussion and whether this relation varied as a function of DLLs’ bi-literacy (i.e., reading and writing skills in English and Spanish). The results of these three studies, together, suggest that early-adolescent DLLs’ reading comprehension skills are promoted by high levels of student motivation for classroom discussion, strong English and Spanish oral language skills, and classroom language environments characterized by opportunities to engage in high-quality, authentic classroom discussions.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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