The effectiveness of an English intervention program for emergent Mandarin-English speakers

The effectiveness of an English intervention program for emergent Mandarin-English speakers

First Author: Chunyang Liang -- Coventry University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Georgia Niolaki; Janet Vousden; Laura Taylor
Keywords: Chinese Learners Of English, Spelling Ability, Intervention, Phonological awareness, Orthographic Knowledge
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: Previous studies demonstrated phonological and orthographic knowledge interventions could significantly improve English reading and spelling abilities of individuals in preschool to young adulthood across various alphabetic languages. Little attention has been devoted to examining the effects of English intervention programs on the English spelling abilities of Mandarin-English young adults. We investigated whether the effects of these interventions can extend to Mandarin-English speakers.

Method: 60 Mandarin-English participants were randomly allocated to 3 groups (control, phonological intervention and orthographic intervention). The interventions focusing on spelling ability were delivered through 12 60-minute sessions over 4 weeks. Participants were assessed on English reading, English spelling, phonological and orthographic abilities (in both English and Mandarin) before and after intervention.

Results: A significant effect of phonological intervention on phonological awareness (for English and Mandarin) and pseudoword spelling was observed but not on real word spelling (for English only). In addition, the orthographic knowledge intervention had a significant effect on English real word and academic vocabulary spelling but not on pseudoword spelling. The results also demonstrated that the participants in the phonological intervention outperformed participants in the other groups in post-treatment phonological tests. Participants in the orthographic group outperformed the other two groups in spelling tests.

Conclusions: These findings could provide theoretical foundations for a more comprehensive model of second language acquisition, as well as educational implications for competent teaching and instruction in adults from different language backgrounds. Phonological awareness training should be afforded greater attention than orthographic training to spelling at both cases.