Do emergent bilingual children follow similar patterns in English letter-name knowledge as English-monolingual children?

Do emergent bilingual children follow similar patterns in English letter-name knowledge as English-monolingual children?

First Author: Somin Park -- The Ohio State University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Shayne B. Piasta
Keywords: Letter knowledge, early childhood (age 4 - 6), Early Literacy, emergent bilinguals, Literacy development
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose
We examined the extent to which emergent bilingual (EB) children’s English letter-name knowledge followed similar/different patterns as those established for English monolingual children. We tested hypotheses concerning visual similarity (Treiman et al., 2006), uppercase familiarity (Turnbull et al., 2010), first name (Treiman & Broderick, 1998), and consonant-order (Justice et al., 2006) effects.
Method
The sample included 56 preschool-aged EB children who completed a letter-name production task for all 26 uppercase/lowercase English letters. For visual similarity, we coded the orthography of children’s additional languages and, for Latin-based alphabetic orthographies, obtained confusability/similarity values from Simpson et al. (2013) for each letter. We also coded whether the letter appeared as a first initial or elsewhere in children’s first names and used the consonant-order acquisition norms from Justice et al (2006). We analyzed data using logistic multilevel modeling with letters nested within children.
Results
Children whose additional language involved Latin-based alphabetic orthographies were 0.1 times less likely to know a lowercase letter-name compared to children whose additional language used a non-alphabetic structure. For children whose additional language involved a Latin-based alphabetic orthography, visual similarity predicted children’s uppercase letter naming (B = 1.32). Uppercase naming predicted children’s lowercase naming (B = 2.31). There were no other significant associations.
Conclusions
English letter-name knowledge for these EB children exhibited the same uppercase familiarity effect as for monolingual children but not the first name or consonant-order effects; findings regarding visual similarity were mixed. These differences may need to be considered when providing alphabet instruction to EB children.