What are the cognitive-linguistic skills that contribute to poor comprehension skills in Chinese children?

What are the cognitive-linguistic skills that contribute to poor comprehension skills in Chinese children?

First Author: Kevin Kien Hoa Chung -- Department of Early Childhood Education, The Education University of Hong Ko
Additional authors/chairs: 
Jason C. M. Lo; Connie S.-H. Ho; David W. Chan; Suk-Man Tsang; Suk-Han Lee
Keywords: Reading development, Chinese, Poor Comprehenders, Word reading, Reading comprehension
Abstract / Summary: 

The present study investigated which cognitive-linguistic skills could discriminate between poor comprehenders and adequate reading comprehenders in Hong Kong Chinese-speaking children. From a sample of 243 children of ages 9-10, 40 participants with poor comprehension skills and 40 with average comprehension skills were selected. These children were tested on the following cognitive-linguistic and reading measures: nonverbal intelligence (IQ), Chinese word reading, one-minute word reading, reading comprehension, oral language, verbal working memory, rapid naming, orthographic awareness, morphological awareness, and syntactic awareness across the two consecutive years. Both groups of comprehenders were matched on age, nonverbal intelligence (IQ), and Chinese word reading. Results revealed that the poor comprehenders performed significantly worse than average comprehenders on the measures of orthographic awareness, morphological awareness, and syntactic awareness at age 9. Significant improvement in the measures of one-minute word reading, oral language, orthographic awareness, and morphological awareness were found for both groups at age 10. The improvement in syntactic awareness was found to be significantly related to word reading and reading comprehension among poor comprehenders. Among the cognitive-linguistic measures, syntactic awareness showed the greatest power in discriminating between poor and adequate comprehenders. Together, these findings suggest that syntactic awareness is particularly important in Chinese language and syntactic awareness itself may be useful in understanding the reading development and impairment in Chinese children.