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Title: The development of L2 emergent literacy in Hong Kong kindergarten children
Author: Chan, Lydia L. S.
ISNI:       0000 0000 9570 7295
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis explores the development of emergent literacy in Hong Kong Kindergarten children who are learning English as a Second Language (L2). Two interrelated empirical studies have been conducted, and both aim to examine the contribution of code-related and oral language skills to predicting early L2 reading ability, controlling for home influences. The majority of research on emergent literacy has been conducted on First-Language (L1) English-speaking children, and it is possible that these established concepts and models could also be relevant to L2 children. The first is a 2-year longitudinal study examining the continuity of L2 emergent literacy development in Hong Kong children from Kindergarten to early Primary school. The convenience sample of 51 children were initially assessed in their final or penultimate year of Kindergarten (mean age: 4;6 SD = 6.16) on 3 emergent literacy measures (receptive vocabulary, phonological awareness, letter identification) and a non-verbal cognitive measure. They later progressed onto the Primary section of the same school, and were assessed again as first or second-graders (mean age: 6;4 SD = 6.21) on a more comprehensive battery of measures. An extensive parental questionnaire on family demographics and the home literacy environment was also administered. In addition to assessing a wide range of L2 emergent literacy skills and English word reading ability, a Chinese syllable deletion task was also included, to explore the potential effects of cross-linguistic phonological transfer between the children’s L1 (Cantonese) and L2 (English). The second study sought to improve upon the first by selecting a larger, more representative sample of children from 3 bilingual Kindergartens in the Kowloon City School District. It examines the concurrent relationships between emergent literacy skills and L2 word reading ability in 137 children. They were all in their final year of Kindergarten (mean age: 5;2 SD = 5.61), and were assessed once on largely the same battery of measures as Study 1 (Time 2). Again, a non-verbal cognitive measure was administered, as well as the parental questionnaire on home support for language development. The main data analysis was carried out via multivariate statistical techniques such as multiple regression. Further analysis was conducted using structural equation modelling in Study 2, but in a cautious and exploratory manner. The overall findings suggest that like the L1 emergent literacy model, early L2 word reading ability is predominantly influenced by children’s code-related skills, especially print knowledge and phonological sensitivity. Also, the relationship between oral language and word reading seems to be mediated by code-related skills. Thus, while oral language abilities do not appear to make substantial direct contributions to early L2 reading, they do play an essential albeit indirect role. Furthermore, L2 children’s home influences seem to make their strongest impact before formal schooling begins, again in the form of indirect effects on pre-school oral language skills. In short, the development of emergent literacy and early word reading skills is similar in many ways for both L1 and L2 children, and implications for practice are considered.
Supervisor: Sylva, Kathy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Asia ; Cognitive development ; Learning ; Language and cognitive development ; Education ; Early and Child learning ; Applied linguistics ; Literacy ; Families,children and childcare ; Statistics (social sciences) ; emergent literacy ; second language ; bilingualism ; reading ; early childhood ; pre-school ; kindergarten ; Hong Kong