Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Barbara G Warash

Committee Co-Chair

Daniel Hursh

Committee Member

Amy Kennedy Root

Committee Member

Joseph R Scotti

Committee Member

Jessica Troilo


The predicted increase in Spanish speakers within the United States brings to light a new direction for preschool curricula. There are multiple, on-going arguments about the best time for children to learn a second language and what role critical periods for brain development play in second language acquisition. Although there are individual differences in development, the current study demonstrates that children can learn Spanish vocabulary words with an average of 30 minutes of instruction per week. Using a combination of direct instruction with developmentally appropriate practices, hands-on, and engaging activities, the teaching of Spanish vocabulary, themed and age appropriate for preschoolers, was incorporated into the West Virginia University Nursery School classroom. Six children from the afternoon collaborative class were chosen to participate in various forms of activities that incorporated English and Spanish into play-based interactions. Using prompts and feedback or praise, the progress of the children across days and over weeks was recorded and examined. Girls improved significantly on Spanish words correctly identified from pre-test to post-test, while boys showed little to no improvement. However, all children improved in fluency, or time taken to identify a pictorial response. Across the five-week intervention, all children demonstrated improved pronunciation and increasing independence and use within each set of themed words. A combination of direct instruction and engaging, interactive activities was shown to be beneficial in the learning of the children. This method of teaching can be easily incorporated into a more naturalistic classroom setting by providing opportunities of various types to slip vocabulary, directives, and bilingual instruction into the daily routine.