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Title: Development of phonological awareness in English-Mandarin bilinguals: A comparison of English-L1 and Mandarin-L1 kindergarten children
Authors: Yeong, S.H.M.
Rickard Liow, S.J. 
Keywords: Bilingual children
Cross-linguistic transfer
ESL learners
Mandarin-speaking children
Phonological awareness
Issue Date: Jun-2012
Citation: Yeong, S.H.M., Rickard Liow, S.J. (2012-06). Development of phonological awareness in English-Mandarin bilinguals: A comparison of English-L1 and Mandarin-L1 kindergarten children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 112 (2) : 111-126. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Phoneme awareness is critical for literacy acquisition in English, but relatively little is known about the early development of phonological awareness in ESL (English as a second language) bilinguals when their two languages have different phonological structures. Using parallel tasks in English and Mandarin, we tracked the development of L1 (first language) and L2 (second language) syllable and phoneme awareness longitudinally in English-L1 and Mandarin-L1 prereaders (n= 70, 4- and 5-year-olds) across three 6-month intervals. In English, the English-L1 children's performance was better in phoneme awareness at all three time points, but the Mandarin-L1 children's syllable awareness was equivalent to the English-L1 children's syllable awareness by Time 3. In Mandarin, the English-L1 children's phoneme awareness, but not their syllable awareness, was also significantly better than that of the Mandarin-L1 children at all three time points. Cross-lagged correlations revealed that only the English-L1 children applied their L1 syllable and phoneme awareness to their L2 (Mandarin) processing by Time 2 and that the Mandarin-L1 children seemed to require exposure to English (L2) before they developed phoneme awareness in either language. The data provide further evidence that phonological awareness is a language-general ability but that cross-language application depends on the similarity between the phonological structures of a child's L1 and L2. Implications for classroom teaching are briefly discussed. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.
Source Title: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
ISSN: 00220965
DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2011.12.006
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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