Using mouth and hand pictures to teach the alphabetic principle to Spanish-speaking English learners

Margaret Vandenberg, Fordham University


Despite the wealth of quantitative studies for typically developing populations of students, there is a scarcity of studies for children in special populations to adapt strategies and materials so they can be more effectively used to teach the alphabetic principle. Case studies have been used to examine methods for students who are unique or exceptional, but are observational and descriptive in nature and do not involve a deliberate manipulation of independent variables. This study follows the What Works Clearinghouse's pilot standards for single-case design to test the adaptation of teaching materials for Spanish speaking English Learners (ELs) using experimental design. Mouth and hand pictures (MAHPs) and other materials were used to teach four EL students to distinguish between voicing pairs of English language sounds that do not exist in their native language. The results of this study demonstrate a dramatic improvement in phoneme segmentation and invented spelling of English words and nonsense words following training using the MAHPs. However, voicing error patterns persisted in their invented spelling at the end of the intervention. Further research is needed to determine the number and sequencing of intervention sessions necessary to reduce voicing errors, and to test the effectiveness of these materials and methods for additional English language sounds, and their effectiveness for ELs from language traditions other than Spanish.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Literacy|Reading instruction

Recommended Citation

Vandenberg, Margaret, "Using mouth and hand pictures to teach the alphabetic principle to Spanish-speaking English learners" (2014). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3629264.