Feb 7 2019

Giselle Nunez Doctoral Dissertation Defense

February 7, 2019

3:00 PM - 5:00 PM


Room 3015, ETMSW Building


1040 W. Harrison St., Chicago, IL

Title:  A Home-Based Language Intervention with Mexican Immigrant Mothers and Their Children


A reality for a child’s academic future is that their language abilities are an essential component to their own academic success (Hammer et al., 2017). Children with language delays can present with academic difficulties as they begin their academic trajectories, but when identified early and provided with appropriate speech and language services, their needs can be met and many of their difficulties can be overcome. The same can be said for Latino children raised in Spanish-speaking home environments, as long as their unique language needs are met in a culturally appropriate manner. When providing speech and language services to this population, several factors should be considered, such as home language use and the family’s goals for their child. Besides considering a child’s academic needs, the parent-child relationship with the native language requires careful consideration when counseling families (Durán, Hartzheim, Lund, Simonsmeier, & Kohlmeier, 2016). As a result, it is important to examine how to best meet the speech and language needs of the growing Latino population within the United States.

The current investigation examines the changes in Mexican immigrant mothers’ language when a Spanish language-based intervention was provided in their home. The study was designed to answer three research questions that focus on the quality and quantity of the mother’s language, the use of the language strategies during play, and their perspectives of the intervention. Three Mexican immigrant mothers in a large urban Midwestern city and their respective preschool-aged child participated in the intervention. The intervention consisted of 8 sessions and was focused on using home-based routines and materials to address language goals that the mothers identified at the start of the investigation. Throughout the intervention, the mothers were provided with specific language strategies with which to address the language needs of their child during play-based activity.

Case studies were developed for each mother based on interviews, observations, documentary analysis, and conversational analysis. In order to analyze the mothers’ use of language strategies, play-based assessments were completed at the start and end of the intervention. Throughout the language intervention sessions, language samples from the dyad were both video and audio recorded and analyzed to determine changes and use of the language-based strategies. The interviews provided a better understanding of the language needs of the child and of the mothers’ perceptions and understanding of home-based language interventions. A cross-case analysis, or a comparison of each case, was also conducted to provide a deeper understanding of the mothers’ experiences with the intervention.

Major findings from the investigation indicate that the mothers demonstrated qualitative changes in their overall language behaviors from the initial to the final intervention session compared to the quantitative changes. Specific changes were seen in the ways in which the mothers asked questions and used directive speech with their child. In addition, the mothers demonstrated changes in their use of language strategies throughout the intervention. One change noted was how the mothers interacted with their child during play, and the second was how they reported feeling using the strategies with their child. Based on the interviews with each mother of their overall experience, they provided examples of how they implemented the language strategies at home. In addition, four factors—collaboration, respect, role, and confidence—were important aspects of their experience. The findings from this study continue the research on ways to develop home-based language interventions that are culturally appropriate for this population. Implications for research and practice include the need for culturally competent speech and language practices addressed in both academic coursework and within the field that address working with culturally and linguistically diverse families.


Elise Wilson

Date posted

Jan 11, 2019

Date updated

Feb 4, 2019