As a double major in Spanish and Psychology, I’ve taken several courses that shaped my research interests in the education of young dual language learners. One course in particular, Spanish in the Schools taught by Dr. Ellen Serafini, sparked a strong interest for me in this area of research. The class involved a service-learning component in which students served as teacher aides in a Spanish-English dual language school. I conducted a reading lesson with a group of second graders to encourage Spanish literacy, and I interviewed a language acquisition specialist at the school. One semester later, I met Dr. Adam Winsler through the Honors in Psychology Program. I knew immediately that I wanted to work with him because of his research interests.
Dr. Winsler’s Miami School Readiness Project (MSRP), which contains longitudinal data for a large sample of dual language learners in Miami, presented a great opportunity for a project that combines my research interests in language development and early education. My project is part of the ongoing MSRP, and it investigates elementary school outcomes for dual language learners. Joining Dr. Winsler’s lab and having him as my mentor has been a great experience for my academic growth. After I graduate, I will continue working in Dr. Winsler’s lab, and I will eventually pursue a PhD. Working on my project has helped me develop research skills that are necessary for a PhD program.
On a weekly basis, I mostly read. A lot! I’ve found that this area of research is highly interdisciplinary, and my 28-page introduction contains research from journals in the fields of developmental psychology, applied linguistics, and education. Writing my literature review has made me realize that it’s important to integrate findings from different fields. The other main weekly task for my project is working with MSRP data. As I prepare data to run my statistical analyses, I am excited to see what the results of my project will look like!