English Skills and Social- Behavioral Wellbeing Predict English Word Reading

English Skills and Social- Behavioral Wellbeing Predict English Word Reading

First Author: Redab Janaideh -- University of Toronto
Additional authors/chairs: 
Irene Vitoroulis; Jennifer Jenkins; Kathy Georgiades; Johanne Paradis; Adriana Soto-Corominas; Alexandra Gottardo; Xi Chen
Keywords: English Language Learners (ELL), Socio-emotional issues, Behavioral Problems, Word reading, Refugee
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose of the Study: Children constitute 43% of the Syrian refugees resettled in Canada. A large number of Syrian refugee children entered Canadian schools lacking sufficient first language and literacy skills due to interrupted education. Moreover, Syrian refugee children represent a vulnerable group for experiencing socio-emotional and behavioral challenges due to disproportionate exposure to multiple pre-migratory risk factors. As such, the goal of the present study was to explore the contributions of cognitive and socio-emotional factors to Syrian refugee children’s literacy performance.
Methods: A total of 133 Syrian refugee children aged 6-13 years were administered a battery of measures including non-verbal intelligence, phonological awareness, receptive vocabulary, and word reading in English. To assess social-emotional wellbeing, mothers of participating children filled out the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), which consisted of five-subscales (emotional problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity, peer problems and prosocial). They reported on the frequency of the child’s behavior on related items within the past six months.
Results: A hierarchal regression model was calculated to predict children’s performance on English word reading. The results demonstrated that phonological awareness, receptive vocabulary and two SDQ-subscales: peer-problems and hyperactivity were unique predictors of word reading performance.
Conclusion: Our results shed light on the literacy development of refugee population. In particular, the results suggest that for Syrian refugee children, success in reading is dependent on not only cognitive skills but also socio-emotional wellbeing.