Exploring the Link between Reading and Bilingualism:  A Meta-analysis of Previous Researches Essay

Exploring the Link between Reading and Bilingualism:

A Meta-analysis of Previous Researches

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Language is an element of culture. Through specific factors such as migration, intermarriages, and enculturation, it is possible that an individual uses a primary language (L1) but at the same time is also capable of using another (L2) or even more languages in communicating with others. This brings out the phenomenon of bilingualism, an aspect that has been an interest of psycholinguistics research.

Although most researches have concentrated to language acquisition, other areas of psycholinguistics are also worth exploring; and, if there were one area that requires appropriate attention, it would be reading. It can be observed that with the advent of multimedia resources, where people can just watch visuals and hear sounds to derive information, reading tends to become just a mere alternative.

With these premises, I decided to present three experiments, which tackles reading among bilingual individuals. The first experiment presented was conducted by Saiegh-Haddad and Geva (2008) among students who are using English as primary language and Arabic as secondary language, where they explored the relationship of phonological and morphological awareness to reading accuracy. It was revealed by this study that phonological awareness is significantly correlated in the two languages It has also shown that both phonological and morphological awareness in the English language predicted reading while not in the case of Arabic language. Krasni and Sadoski (2008), on the other hand, investigated whether evoking mental imagery and emotional response is similar when a bilingual student reads a story written in his L1 or L2.  The research involved grade school students in a Canadian High School who are using the English and French languages. The

Reading and Bilingualism     3

students read two stories and were asked to rate the stories’ paragraphs based on the mental imageries that these paragraphs create. It was revealed that imagery and affect evoked by a story in L2 becomes “closer in kind” to that in L1 as the individual progresses in mastering the second language. The third study delved into the effect of age of bilingual exposure to reading progress in both languages. Kovelman, Baker, and Petitto (2008) explored this by involving bilingual students, age 7 to 9, from (a) Spanish-speaking homes and (b) English-speaking homes and comparing them with monolingual English speaking students. The study revealed that age is a significant factor affecting “reading, phonological awareness, and language competence in both languages.” It was also found that bilingualism has positive effects on reading especially when an individual has been exposed to it at an earlier age (0-3 years old).

Generally, the three studies explored bilingualism as a factor influencing reading. At this point, let me discuss some fundamental concepts that will help us understand the purpose and the results of the studies. In the study of Saiegh-Haddad and Geva (2008), two language factors are mentioned – phonological awareness and morphological awareness. The ability to discriminate the sound structure of specific language units refers to phonological awareness. Picard (2002) proposes that phonological awareness is one of the three “pre-reader indices” that predicts success in reading. On the other hand, morphological awareness focuses on the word structure itself. Feldman (1995) proposed that this too is essential in reading development. The study of Kovelman, Baker, and Petitto (2008) also made use of phonological awareness as an indicator but focused on the age of exposure. Krasni and Sadoski (2008), on the other hand, made use of mental imagery and emotional responses as their variables. They proposed that “mental imagery that we experience while reading, either spontaneously or induced by instruction…have powerful effects on comprehension, memory,

Reading and Bilingualism     4

and appreciation for text.” He offered an explanation to this using Paivio’s (1971, 1986) dual coding theory, which claims that “cognition consists of the operations of two separate but interconnected mental coding systems: a verbal system for language and a nonverbal system that deals primarily with imagery.”

Now I shall proceed to the relevance and implications of each study in the discipline.

Saiegh-Haddad’s and Geva (2008)’s study about phonological awareness and morphological awareness encourages teachers to be eclectic in their approach when dealing with dual-language learners. They must develop their ability to spot reading styles of their learners so that they can directly respond to the students’ needs.

The study of Krasni and Sadoski (2008) also has various practical implications. First, it establishes the concept that words are stimuli, which elicit specific responses. In counseling, the power of words to draw out emotions from an individual is directly observed. By the use of proper questions and responses from a counselor, the counselee re-experiences certain emotions hence resolves concerns associated with them. In psychometrics, specifically with the use of personality assessment tools, it is amazing that brief statements can reliably evaluate an individual’s disposition, motivation, degree of anxiety, and other constructs. These practical applications however are possible if the counselee or the test-taker is able to recognize and comprehend the verbal stimuli, such as being abreast with the language used as medium in the counseling or in the assessment tool.

Finally, the study of Kovelman, Baker, and Petitto (2008) may be explained by two very simple psychological concepts – Thorndike’s Associationism and the process of retrieval cueing during memory recall. It is easier to comprehend certain things when there is a wide network of ideas with which someone can associate it. By having two languages, there are more chances that an individual can recall words or concepts by association.

Reading and Bilingualism     5

Considering all the concepts discussed above, it can therefore be established that bilingualism has some connections with reading by directly or indirectly influencing the reading process itself. Moreover, it can be deemed that despite the existing literatures in this subject matter, modern psychologists are still in continuous search for the link between reading and bilingualism. As long as people capable of using two or more languages exist, psycholinguistics as a discipline will untiringly attempt to seek answers to explain this phenomenon.

Reading and Bilingualism     6

References

Krasny, K.A. ; Sadoski, M. (2008). Mental Imagery and Affect in English/French Bilingual Readers: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Retrieved November 5, 2008 from http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/Home.portal?_nfpb=true;ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=reading+and+mental+ability;searchtype=basic;ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=kw;_pageLabel=RecordDetails;objectId=0900019b802fa5ee;accno=EJ790397;_nfls=false.

Kovelman, I., Baker, S. A., ; Petitto, L. (2008). Age of First Bilingual Language Exposure as a New Window into Bilingual Reading Development. Retrieved November 5, 2008 from http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/Home.portal?_nfpb=true;ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=reading+and+bilingual;searchtype=basic;ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=kw;_pageLabel=RecordDetails;objectId=0900019b8031a911;accno=EJ804606;_nfls=false.

Paivio, A. (1986). Mental representations: A dual coding approach. New York: Oxford University Press.

Picard, C. (2002). Phonological awareness for speech/language pathologist and their educational partners. Retrieved November 5, 2008 from

Saiegh-Haddad, E. ; Geva, E. (2008). Morphological Awareness, Phonological Awareness, and Reading in English-Arabic Bilingual Children. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, v21 n5 p481-504. Retrieved November 5, 2008 from http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/Home.portal?_nfpb=true;ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=reading;searchtype=basic;ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=kw;pageSize.

Bilingualism and Reading

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ERIC #:

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EJ796028
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Is a ”Phoenician” Reading Style Superior to a ”Chinese” Reading Style? Evidence from Fourth Graders
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Bowey, J.A.
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Reading Comprehension; Spelling; Dyslexia; Verbal Ability; Grade 4; Reading Difficulties; Phoneme Grapheme Correspondence; Decoding (Reading); Phonology; Rhyme
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Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, v100 n3 p186-214 Jul 2008
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Elsevier. 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL 32887-4800. Tel: 877-839-7126; Tel: 407-345-4020; Fax: 407-363-1354; e-mail: [email protected]; Web site: http://www.elsevier.com
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2008-07-00
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29
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Journal Articles; Reports – Research
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This study compared normally achieving fourth-grade ”Phoenician” readers, who identify nonwords significantly more accurately than they do exception words, with ”Chinese” readers, who show the reverse pattern. Phoenician readers scored lower than Chinese readers on word identification, exception word reading, orthographic choice, spelling, reading comprehension, and verbal ability. When compared with normally achieving children who read nonwords and exception words equally well, Chinese readers scored as well as these children on word identification, regular word reading, orthographic choice, spelling, reading comprehension, phonological sensitivity, and verbal ability and scored better on exception word reading. Chinese readers also used rhyme-based analogies to read nonwords derived from high-frequency exception words just as often as did these children. As predicted, Phoenician and Chinese readers adopted somewhat different strategies in reading ambiguous nonwords constructed by analogy to high-frequency exception words. Phoenician readers were more likely than Chinese readers to read ambiguous monosyllabic nonwords via context-free grapheme-phoneme correspondences and were less likely to read disyllabic nonwords by analogy to high-frequency analogues. Although the Chinese reading style was more common than the Phoenician style in normally achieving fourth graders, there were similar numbers of poor readers with phonological dyslexia (identifying nonwords significantly more accurately than exception words) and surface dyslexia (showing the reverse pattern), although surface dyslexia was more common in the severely disabled readers. However, few of the poor readers showed pure patterns of phonological or surface dyslexia. (Contains 5 tables.)
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EJ795963
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Morphological Awareness, Phonological Awareness, and Reading in English-Arabic Bilingual Children
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Saiegh-Haddad, E.; Geva, Esther
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Phonological Awareness; Morphology (Languages); Bilingualism; English; Semitic Languages; Reading Skills; Reading Fluency; Decoding (Reading); Correlation; Foreign Countries
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Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, v21 n5 p481-504 Jul 2008
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Springer. 233 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013. Tel: 800-777-4643; Tel: 212-460-1500; Fax: 212-348-4505; e-mail: [email protected]; Web site: http://www.springerlink.com
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2008-07-00
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24
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Journal Articles; Reports – Research
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The paper reported an exploratory study that tested (a) the relationship between phonological and morphological awareness in English (L1)-Arabic (L2) bilingual children in Canada (N = 43), and (b) the relevance of these skills to word and pseudoword reading accuracy, and to complex word reading fluency. The results showed a significant correlation between phonological awareness in English and in Arabic. However, morphological awareness in the two languages was not correlated. Phonological awareness predicted reading cross-linguistically, but only Arabic morphological awareness predicted word reading in English. Moreover, while both phonological and morphological awareness in English predicted independent unique variance in English word reading, only phonological awareness in Arabic predicted Arabic word reading. Complex-word reading fluency was predicted by morphological awareness within both languages. Similarly, in both languages, phonological awareness was the single factor predicting pseudoword decoding accuracy. The results are discussed in terms of cross-linguistic differences between English and Arabic in orthographic depth and in morphological structure and transparency.
http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/Home.portal?_nfpb=true;ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=reading;searchtype=basic;ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=kw;pageSize=10;eric_displayNtriever=false;eric_displayStartCount=21;_pageLabel=RecordDetails;objectId=0900019b80309aa0;accno=EJ795963;_nfls=false

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EJ790397
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Mental Imagery and Affect in English/French Bilingual Readers: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective
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Krasny, Karen A.; Sadoski, Mark
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Immersion Programs; Emotional Response; Imagery; Reading Ability; Grade 11; French; Bilingualism; English; Second Language Learning; Foreign Countries; High School Students; Literature; Writing (Composition); Second Language Instruction
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Canadian Modern Language Review, v64 n3 p399-428 Mar 2008
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University of Toronto Press. 5201 Dufferin Street, Toronto, ON M3H 5T8, Canada. Tel: 416-667-7810; Fax: 800-221-9985; Fax: 416-667-7881; e-mail: [email protected]; Web site: http://www.utpjournals.com/cmlr/cmlr.html
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2008-03-00
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30
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We investigated the evocation of mental imagery and affect in English/French bilinguals to determine whether the linguistic demands of reading in a second language (L2) limit readers’ ability to form non-verbal text representations of literary stories. The participants were 26 Grade 11 French immersion students enrolled in a Canadian high school. Each student read two literary stories, one in English and another in French. Next they rated story paragraphs for the degree of either mental imagery or emotional response evoked. Later, students reread the same texts and completed a writing task in which they reported their imagery or emotions in response to the two highest-rated paragraphs. Moderate to high correlations were found between ratings of imagery and emotional response for each story, for two French stories combined, for two English stories combined, and for all stories in both languages combined. Reading times were somewhat longer for the French versions. The patterns of response for both the ratings and the written reports replicate and extend earlier research and suggest that as bilingual readers progress in their ability to read in their L2, reports of imagery and affect become closer in kind and number to those reported in response to reading the same text in their first language.
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http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/Home.portal?_nfpb=true&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=reading+and+mental+ability&searchtype=basic&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=kw&_pageLabel=RecordDetails&objectId=0900019b802fa5ee&accno=EJ790397&_nfls=false

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EJ804606
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Age of First Bilingual Language Exposure as a New Window into Bilingual Reading Development
Authors:

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Kovelman, Ioulia; Baker, Stephanie A.; Petitto, Laura-Ann
Descriptors:

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Reading Difficulties; Speech Communication; Bilingual Schools; Phonological Awareness; Monolingualism; Language Acquisition; Bilingualism; Children; English (Second Language); Second Language Instruction; Second Language Learning; Measures (Individuals); Comparative Analysis; Socioeconomic Background; Socioeconomic Influences; Literacy; Reading Skills; Skill Development
Source:

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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, v11 n2 p203-223 Jul 2008
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Cambridge University Press. The Edinburgh Building, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge, CB2 8RU, UK. Tel: 800-872-7423; Tel: 845-353-7500; Tel: +44-1223-326070; Fax: 845-353-4141; Fax: +44-1223-325150; e-mail: [email protected]; Web site: http://www.cambridge.org
Publication Date:

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2008-07-00
Pages:

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21
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Journal Articles; Reports – Research
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How does age of first bilingual language exposure affect reading development in children learning to read in both of their languages? Is there a reading advantage for monolingual English children who are educated in bilingual schools? We studied children (grades 2-3, ages 7-9) in “bilingual” Spanish-English schools who were either from Spanish-speaking homes (new to English) or English-speaking homes (new to Spanish), as compared with English-speaking children in “monolingual” English schools. An early age of first bilingual language exposure had a positive effect on reading, phonological awareness, and language competence in both languages: early bilinguals (age of first exposure 0-3 years) outperformed other bilingual groups (age of first exposure 3-6 years). Remarkably, schooling in two languages afforded children from “monolingual” English homes an “advantage” in phoneme awareness skills. Early bilingual exposure is best for dual language reading development, and it may afford such a powerful positive impact on reading and language development that it may possibly ameliorate the negative effect of low SES on literacy. Further, “age of first bilingual exposure” provides a new “tool” for evaluating whether a young bilingual has a reading problem versus whether he or she is a typically-developing dual-language learner.
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As Provided
http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/Home.portal?_nfpb=true&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=reading+and+bilingual&searchtype=basic&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=kw&_pageLabel=RecordDetails&objectId=0900019b8031a911&accno=EJ804606&_nfls=false

ERIC #:

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EJ796044
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Influence of Oral Language and Phonological Awareness on Children’s Bilingual Reading
Authors:

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Lee Swanson, H.; Rosston, K.; Gerber, M.; Solari, E.
Descriptors:

Terms from the Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors; used to tag materials by subject to aid information search and retrieval. Click on a Descriptor to initiate any new search using that term.
Reading Comprehension; Reading Difficulties; Bilingual Students; Syntax; Oral Language; Phonological Awareness; Predictor Variables; Grade 3; Reading Skills; Bilingualism; Models; English; Spanish; Vocabulary; Expressive Language; Role; Word Recognition
Source:

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Journal of School Psychology, v46 n4 p413-429 Aug 2008
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Elsevier. 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL 32887-4800. Tel: 877-839-7126; Tel: 407-345-4020; Fax: 407-363-1354; e-mail: [email protected]; Web site: http://www.elsevier.com
Publication Date:

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2008-08-00
Pages:

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17
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Journal Articles; Reports – Evaluative
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The purpose of this study was to assess the roles of oral language and phonological awareness on reading performance in grade 3 bilingual students. Several hierarchical models assessed the best predictors of third grade English and Spanish word attack, word identification and reading comprehension. Predictor variables were measures of phonological awareness, expressive vocabulary, receptive vocabulary, and syntax in both English and Spanish. The results showed that within language contributions of expressive vocabulary and syntax best predicted literacy when compared to phonological awareness measures. (
http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/Home.portal?_nfpb=true;ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=reading+and+bilingual;searchtype=basic;ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=kw;_pageLabel=RecordDetails;objectId=0900019b80309cef;accno=EJ796044;_nfls=false

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