Development of phonological awareness in bilingual Chinese children

Xi Chen, Yu Min Ku, Emiko Koyama, Richard C. Anderson, Wenling Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study investigated the phonological awareness of 219 first, second, and fourth grade Cantonese-speaking children from the south of China, who received immersion Mandarin instruction beginning in the first grade. Children received onset, rime and tone awareness tasks in Cantonese and Mandarin. Children performed better on the Cantonese onset awareness task in grade one, but the difference disappeared in higher grades. However, their performance on the rime and tone awareness tasks was better in Mandarin. These results reflect the phonological structure of the two languages: Mandarin has a more complex onset system, whereas Cantonese has more complex tone and rime systems. Moreover, children's phonological awareness increased faster in Mandarin, which likely resulted from Mandarin instruction. Confirmatory factor analysis suggested that onset-rime awareness is a universal construct, whereas tone awareness is a language-specific construct.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-418
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Volume37
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2008

Keywords

  • Bilingual
  • Cantonese
  • Cross-language transfer
  • Mandarin
  • Phonological awareness

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