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Developing Language and Literacy Laboratory

Research Mission

The DLL Lab researches the language and literacy development of young children from diverse backgrounds, with an emphasis on bilingual or dual language learners (DLLs).  Numerous projects are occurring in the lab that:

  • investigate cultural and environmental influences on children’s development,
  • develop assessment instruments of DLLs’ language and literacy skills, and
  • develop and evaluate home- and classroom based interventions.

Current Grants and Projects

Early Language and Literacy Professional Development for Teachers of English Learners (National Professional Grant)

Funded by the US Department of Education, Office of English Language Acquisition

(Grant #T365Z170114)

Role: Principal Investigator

Dates: 2017 - 2022

The goal of this grant is to improve the school readiness of children who are from low-income homes and who speak a language other than English at home. The grant will train teachers and assistant teachers who work in the NYC Department of Education to use high quality language and literacy practices in their classrooms through ExCELL (Exceptional Coaching for Early Language and Literacy), which is a web-based professional development (PD) program with remote coaching.  The grant will also test the efficacy of the PD through a randomized control trial.


Háblame bebé (Talk to Me Baby): Reducing the Word Gap and Promoting Bilingualism in Low-Income Hispanic Children

Funded by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Role: Co-Principal Investigator

Dates: 2017 - 2018

The Háblame Bebé (Talk to Me Baby; Baralt, Darcy Mahoney, & Brito, in prep) grant will test the effectiveness of this parent training intervention program with Latino mothers of toddlers whose first language is Spanish. Háblame Bebé is a text-based coaching program and app that teaches parents that they are their baby’s first and best teacher by explaining how and why to give “Language Nutrition” within every-day routines. Háblame Bebé uses video examples, text message tips, and reminders to support mothers as they implement language facilitation strategies. Mothers are incentivized by earning hearts in the app when they incorporate and document use of language nutrition in daily routines. Mothers record their baby’s developing vocabulary into a bilingual word registry. The ultimate goal of the grant is to improve Spanish-speaking toddlers’ language skills.


Development of the Bilingual Assessment of Phonological Sensitivity (BAPS)

Funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education

(Grant #R305A160081)

Role: Principal Investigator

Dates: 2016-2020

The purpose of this project is to develop a reliable and valid, comprehensive assessment of phonological sensitivity in Spanish and English that can be used with 3-to 5-year-old DLLs.  The test, entitled the Bilingual Assessment of Phonological Sensitivity (BAPS), will efficiently measure dual language learner (DLL) preschoolers’ abilities across tasks that capture the developmental continuum of phonological sensitivity (PS).  Teachers and speech-language pathologists will be able to use the BAPS to: (a) develop an in-depth understanding of where Spanish-speaking DLLs are on the developmental continuum of PS in both languages; (b) determine where to begin instruction on PS; and (c) identify children who have difficulties with PS.


Parents Plus: Language Coach

Funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education

(Grant #R324A160070)

Role: Co-Principal Investigator (PI = Sawyer, Lehigh University)

Dates: 2016-2019

The goal of this project is to develop Parents Plus: Language Coach, an internet-based program, which will train parents to use high quality language facilitation strategies to promote the language skills of their children with language impairment.


Bridging the Word Gap Research Network

Funded by the Health Resources Service Administration

(Grant #UA6MC 27762)

Role: Leadership Team Member (2016-2021);

Work Group Member (2014-2016) (PI: Carta, University of Kansas)

Dates:  2014-2021

The primary goal of the Bridging the Word Network is to reduce the number of children who enter school with delays in language and literacy.