Cross linguistic transfer of literacy skills between English and French following a remedial small-group intervention among Grade 1 students attending French immersion schools

Cross linguistic transfer of literacy skills between English and French following a remedial small-group intervention among Grade 1 students attending French immersion schools

First Author: Marie-France Côté -- Universite du Quebec a Montreal
Additional authors/chairs: 
Robert Savage; Yaacov Petscher
Keywords: Cross-linguistic, Intervention, Transfer, Grade 1-2
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose. Many correlational studies showed that reading abilities in L1 are related with those in L2 and suggested that cross-linguistic transfer is possible. However, causal evidence of cross-linguistic transfer is still needed. In that line of thought, the present study aimed to answer the following question; what are the impacts of a remediating intervention in English on decoding skills in French among Grade 1 at-risk students?
Method. This research was a matched intervention study with a taught control. Participating schools were assigned to one of two experimental conditions (DMSfV, CBP). Grade 1 (n = 100) at-risk students in each condition participated to small-group remediating sessions in English, typically for 12 hours over 10 weeks. Students’ word reading skills (irregular words, regular words and non-words) were measured in English and in French, before and after the intervention.
Results. Multilevel analyzes (HLM) provided evidence of cross-linguistic transfer of pre to post-test gains between English and French in Grade 1 for most reading outcomes. Moreover, a nested structural analysis showed that main effects of condition on performance in French at post-test were fully mediated by individual differences in English.
Conclusions. This study is, to our knowledge, the first matched intervention study with a taught control in the literature to investigate and provide information regarding cross-linguistic transfer in multiple reading outcomes and that, among at-risk students. Intervention-specific cross language effects alongside full mediation of improvements in French reading by English shown here is consistent with causal models of bilingual reading development. The results of the present study represent an important step towards a better understanding of the causal mechanisms supporting cross-linguistic transfer.