The role of orthographic processing in word reading among emergent bilinguals in French immersion

The role of orthographic processing in word reading among emergent bilinguals in French immersion

First Author: Sheila Cira Chung -- University of Toronto
Additional authors/chairs: 
Xi Chen; Hélène Deacon
Keywords: Biliteracy, Orthographic Knowledge, Word reading, Second Language
Abstract / Summary: 

Orthographic processing (OP) refers to the knowledge of letter combination in words and their sequence. While the importance of OP in word reading has been well established in monolingual children, the extent to which OP relates to word reading in bilingual children is unclear. To address this concern, we examined the within- and cross-language role of OP in word reading among emergent bilingual kindergarteners attending a Canadian French immersion program.
Method: One hundred and thirty one kindergarteners in French immersion completed measures of OP (Concept about Print, orthographic choice task) and word identification in English and French. Hierarchical linear regressions controlled for parental education, non-verbal reasoning, phonological awareness, and verbal ability.
Results: With respect to within-language relationship, there was a significant correlation between OP and word reading in both English and French. We also found evidence of cross-language transfer of OP to word reading. OP in English was significantly related to French word reading; likewise, OP in French was significantly related to English word reading.
Conclusion: Our findings of a within-language contribution of OP to word reading in both English and French is consistent with research on monolingual learning opaque orthographies. Additionally, the bidirectional contributions of OP in one language to word reading in the other language provide support that OP is a transferable skill as it relates to word reading in young children learning a second language.