Spanish-speaking Preschoolers' Conceptual Vocabulary Knowledge: Towards More Comprehensive Assessment

Jeannette Mancilla-Martinez, Christa Mulker Greenfader, Wendy Ochoa


This study examined Spanish-English preschoolers’ (n = 32) vocabulary performance when using traditional English-only compared to measures that utilize conceptual scoring (i.e., vocabulary knowledge in terms of known concepts independent of whether the label for the concept is known in either Spanish or English) designed for and normed on Spanish-English bilinguals. Children’s performance at the item level on the conceptually scored measures was also examined. In English, receptive and expressive average scores were in the below-average ranges.  However, on the conceptually scored vocabulary measures, the average scores were within the average range, receptively and expressively.  Examination of children’s performance at the item level suggests there may be differences by language in bilingual children’s receptive and expressive vocabulary performance. The findings underscore the value of utilizing conceptually scored vocabulary measures, suggesting that their use may have potential for differentiate language difference from language disorder among young bilingual learners.


bilingualism; vocabulary knowledge; vocabulary assessment; conceptual vocabulary; Spanish-speakers

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