Date of Award


Document Type

Action Research Project

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education


Education, Montessori

First Advisor

Karen Anway


This action research project examined the effects of sign language on the ability of primary students to learn new Spanish vocabulary in a bilingual Montessori classroom. The research took place at a public charter Montessori school in Washington, District of Columbia. Twenty-seven primary school aged children were included in this seven-week study. Sources of data collection included a parent-teacher questionnaire, a baseline assessment, daily observation logs, a daily checklist, a weekly journal, and a summative assessment. Students were grouped by Spanish fluency and taught eight different vocabulary words in Spanish. Half of the words were taught alongside a sign in American Sign Language and the other half were taught without an accompanying sign. The summative assessment data showed that students of all ages displayed a significant increase in their ability to recall new Spanish vocabulary words that were introduced with an accompanying sign in American Sign Language. Future research could examine the roles of sign language and gesturing in helping children recall vocabulary in the long-term.