Phonological Awareness and Its Relationship to Reading among Chinese-English Bilingual College Students

Phonological Awareness and Its Relationship to Reading among Chinese-English Bilingual College Students

First Author: Nan Zhang -- University of Maryland
Additional authors/chairs: 
Liuan Yang; Min Wang
Keywords: Phonological awareness, Reading, Spelling, Cross-linguistic, second language learning
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: The current study examined the question whether phonological awareness (PA) is universal or language-specific and whether it is related to reading and spelling across languages. Specifically, two experiments were conducted to investigate the differences in PA across L1 (Chinese) and L2 (English) and its relationship to reading and spelling across languages.

Method: In Experiment 1, twenty-six native Chinese speaking college students whose L2 is English were tested on six tasks of PA: syllable (oddity and deletion), onset-rime (oddity), and phonemic awareness (oddity and deletion) in both languages, and in real and non-words. Chinese character reading was measured. In Experiment 2, twenty-seven different participants were tested on PA using the same tasks, word reading, and spelling in English.

Results: In both experiments, performance on PA was better in L1 than in L2 at syllable and phoneme levels. Real words facilitated syllabic and phonemic awareness compared to non-words in L1 and L2. PA was highly correlated to each other across languages at three levels. PA in L1 at three levels was significantly correlated to L2 reading and spelling. PA in L2 at syllable level showed a clear trend to be correlated with reading in L1.

Conclusion: There is a higher quality PA in L1 vs. L2, lexical status plays a role in both languages. There seems to be a bi-directional relationship between PA across L1 and L2 and between PA and reading. We argue that PA is a universal construct and closely related to each other and to reading across languages.