Cross-Linguistic Transfer of Reading Skills in Bilingual Children, Jennifer, 9783639168594

Author: Jennifer


There is a dynamic relationship between oral and reading skills in bilingual development. The current study investigated bilingual English-Chinese children’s knowledge of first (L1) and second language (L2) to determine the nature of transfer of literacy skills between two non-cognate languages. The study showed that language, orthographic, motivational, and environmental factors affected literacy development in English and Chinese. Quantitative analysis, using parallel measures, showed that despite differences in language (non- cognates) and orthography (alphabetic vs. non- alphabetic), there was evidence of transfer of literacy skills. Furthermore, this transfer was bi- directional: English skills predicted Chinese reading performance, and Chinese skills predicted English reading performance. The study also showed that both vocabulary and phonological awareness were important predictors of reading in L1 and L2. The analysis and findings should be especially useful to language researchers and educators as well as those interested in language development in bilinguals. Elizabeth Pang studied English at Oxford University and received her MA and PhD in Educational Linguistics from Stanford University. She is Programme Director, Literacy Development at the Ministry of Education, Singapore.

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