Publication Date

Fall 2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communicative Disorders and Sciences


Jean Novak

Subject Areas

Psychology, Developmental.; Language, General.; Hispanic American Studies.


The literature on the development of executive function (EF) has been largely limited to studies of middle-class English-speaking children. This study extended executive function research to a primarily low socioeconomic status (SES) sample of Spanish-speaking preschool children living in the United States. The purpose of this study was to examine a variety of language measures (vocabulary, grammar, and comprehensive language) in relation to a variety of executive function measures (working memory, inhibitory control, and attention-shifting). Results revealed that Spanish speakers performed on some, but not all, EF measures comparably to higher SES English-speaking peers, in concurrence with previously reported findings. Further, language relations were strongest to the EF areas of working memory and attention-shifting. Importantly, comprehensive language measures were more powerful predictors of concurrent EF abilities than vocabulary or grammar measures alone. Theoretical and methodological implications of these findings for studies of EF-language relations in clinical populations, in children learning Spanish as a first language, and in children from low SES backgrounds are discussed.