Comparing shared book reading in first and second languages between Chinese mothers and pre-school children

Comparing shared book reading in first and second languages between Chinese mothers and pre-school children

First Author: Nan Chen -- Sun Yat-sen University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Jing Zhao (zhaoj67@mail.sysu.edu.cn) Sun Yat-sen University
Keywords: Shared Book Reading, Parent-child interactions, early childhood (age 4 - 6), Chinese Learners Of English
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose—Shared book reading (SBR) is often used to promote early language and literacy development. This study describes and compares the linguistic features of parent-child interactions during SBR when Chinese L1 and English L2 were used in respective readings.

Method—Participants were two dyads of children (aged 4 years old) and their mothers selected according to their relative English proficiency from China. We used a narrative picture book Greedy Cat by Joy Cowley and its Chinese version for the book-sharing activity on four separate occasions at home. In the first reading, mothers read exclusively in Chinese. In the second reading, mothers read in exclusively English. After being introduced to recommended SBR techniques, they read in Chinese and English respectively in the third and fourth reading. Data were collected from videotapes of the process and home literacy environment questionnaires administered to mothers. Question types, children’s responses, mother-child roles, and the mean length of utterances were coded.

Results—The results showed that for mothers reading in Chinese often means more flexibility and discursive styles, this is especially true after introducing the SBR techniques. In comparison, when reading in English, mothers mainly asked labeling questions and children usually remained listening and responded to simple questions in short utterances.

Conclusions—This study provides some insights into the interactions between mother and child in L1 and L2 SBR activities. While many behaviors involve simple discussions around illustrations in L2 SBR, more detailed descriptions and some sophisticated reading behaviors are observed in L1 SBR.

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