Research Mentor(s): Ioulia Kovelman, Associate Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Psychology, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 3 (1pm-1:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 9
Words in a language are generally represented by sound, meaning, and print. Learning to read words often involves building interconnections among the three components. Thus, sound and meaning-based language skills become essential precursors of children’s word reading competency. In particular, phonological awareness, or the ability to break down words and distinguish them into smaller units of sounds, morpheme, is a critical skill and foundation for later literacy development. Morphological components refer to the words created from sounds; it’s the system for word construction. Morphological awareness is especially important for word reading and comprehension skills. Languages like Spanish or English are phonologically transparent because they map letters directly to individual phonemes. In comparison, Chinese is a morphologically transparent language that maps characters to meaning units, morphemes. This study aimed to examine whether being bilingual in Chinese and English would affect children’s morphological awareness when reading in English due to bilingual transfer. We hypothesized that bilingual children may show a strong sound-to-meaning association compared to monolingual children. Standardized language behavioral tasks were conducted to bilingual and monolingual children between age 5 to 10 to assess their reading comprehension and syntactic abilities in both English and Chinese. The findings of this research might indicate that bilingualism experience alters how bilingual children learn to read compared to monolingual children, despite the fact that some bilinguals are equally proficient in both languages. Findings might also inform theories of bilingualism and literacy instruction practices on linguistically diverse children.