Syntactic awareness and reading comprehension among English-French bilinguals

We will present a series of two studies that examined the role of syntactic awareness in reading comprehension among English-French bilinguals. The studies focused on French immersion children in grades 1 and 2 respectively. The results showed that within French, syntactic awareness did not contribute to reading comprehension directly. However, it had an indirect effect on reading comprehension mediated through French word reading. Both studies also showed a direct effect of English syntactic awareness on French reading comprehension, as well as an indirect effect mediated through French word reading, suggesting cross-language transfer from English to French. The results are discussed in relation to children’s relative levels of proficiency in English and French and the instructional context of the French immersion program.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

10:20 EDT
7:20 PDT, 8:20 MDT, 11:20 ADT,
15:20 BST

Dr. Becky Chen
Co-Lead of Literacy / Governance: Knowledge Mobilization Lead
University of Toronto, OISE

Becky Xi Chen’s research focuses on bilingual and ELL (English Language Learner) children’s language and literacy development. She is interested in how children develop literacy skills simultaneously in their first language and second language, and whether these skills transfer between the two languages. She has a well-established research program examining children in French immersion programs. This line of research has three goals: 1) identify reading difficulties at word and text levels, 2) compare the development of English and French literacy skills between children who are native speakers of English and those who speak another language at home, and 3) examine transfer of language and literacy skills between English and French. She is also a co-lead of the Language, Literacy and Learning Cluster of the Child and Youth Refugee Research Coalition (CYRRC), an international coalition that conducts research on refugee children and youth. This line of research focuses on language, literacy and well-being of Arabic-speaking children, particularly refugee children. Finally, she conducts cross-cultural studies comparing the development of Chinese literacy skills between Chinese-speaking children in Canada and children in China. In applied practice, she is interested in helping bilingual children who are at-risk readers or have reading disabilities.

Diana Burchell
PhD Candidate, Multilingualism and Literacy Lab
OISE, University of Toronto

Diana is a project coordinator for The International Bilingual Education (IBE) project (Canada, China & the Netherlands). Her research focuses on the accessibility of language immersion programs for exceptional and multilingual students in Canada. Diana is especially interested in working on an assessment and intervention method which will disentangle deficits due to language disability from language deficits due to multilingualism. Her SSHRC-funded dissertation project examines the effect of COVID-19 and socioeconomic status on the equitable access to French Immersion programs.