On the contribution of morphological awareness to reading comprehension: A comparison of French L1 and L2 students

On the contribution of morphological awareness to reading comprehension: A comparison of French L1 and L2 students

First Author: Rosalie Bourdages -- Universite du Quebec a Montreal, Haute Ecole pédagogique du canton de Vaud
Additional authors/chairs: 
Leslie Redmond; Denis Foucambert
Keywords: Reading Ability, Morphological Awareness, Structural equation modelling, Cognitive skills, Second Language
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose
This study will focus on the contribution of morphological awareness (MA) to reading performance in both French L1 and L2 students. MA, defined as the recognition and conscious manipulation of morphological structures (Gombert, 1990; Carlisle, 1995), is one of the metalinguistic abilities which is most often linked to reading performance in L1 (Levesque, Kieffer, & Deacon, 2018) and in L2 (De Freitas, Mota, & Deacon, 2017). Drawing on Bialystok’s theoretical model (1988) of metalinguistic abilities, first, we propose that MA tasks encompass two kinds of cognitive components, namely levels of control (implicit or explicit) and operations (addition or deletion), and one linguistic component, namely the type of unit involved (derivational on inflectional suffixes) (Casalis et al., 2003). Second, we will observe their relative contribution to reading performance.

Method
Participants (8-12 years old), 86 French L1 speakers and 67 Anglophone L2 French learners, completed 6 different tasks traditionally used to measure MA. Reading abilities were evaluated using classical measures of reading comprehension (Foucambert, 2008; Simard et al., 2014).

Results and Conclusions
Data were analysed using structural equation modelling (SEM). In the measurement model, we test the validity of unidimensional versus several bi-dimensional models of MA. The analyses show that, contrary to the results for French L1 participants, where the model involving type of operation best explained MA, the results for the L2 population highlight the importance of the type of unit manipulated. The complete SEMs highlight the role of these different latent variables to reading comprehension for both the subgroups.