The role of socioeconomic status in the narrative story retells of school-aged english language learners

Mary Alt, Genesis D. Arizmendi, Jennifer N. DiLallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: We examined the relationship between maternal level of education as an index of socioeconomic status (SES) on the narrative story retells of school-aged children who are English language learners (ELLs) to guide interpretation of results. Method: Using data available from the Systematic Analysis of Language Transcripts database (Miller & Iglesias, 2012), we were able to compare the language samples of 907 ELL students in kindergarten and 2nd grade whose parents had different levels of education. We used a simple linear regression to see if maternal level of education was predictive of measures of vocabulary, syntax, and narrative structure in Spanish and English narrative story retells. Results: There were no differences in language measures between children from different SES backgrounds for the Spanish language samples. There were differences with the English language samples in four of the five measures for the kindergarten sample and only three of five measures for the older children, with a smaller percentage of the variance explained. Conclusion: Despite common knowledge that SES has a negative influence on language, the actual influence on the narrative productions of school-aged ELLs was less than anticipated for English and absent for Spanish. The implications for assessment are discussed and concluded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-323
Number of pages11
JournalLanguage, speech, and hearing services in schools
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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