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Title: Early literacy development in Mandarin-speaking children : the role of phonological awareness, rapid naming and spoken language skills
Author: Yeh, Lili
ISNI:       0000 0004 2731 9572
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2012
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In Taiwan, many children grow up in a bilingual environment, namely Mandarin and Taiwanese. They learn Zhuyin Fuhao – a semi-syllabic transparent orthography – at the beginning of the first grade before learning traditional Chinese characters. However little is known about the acquisition of literacy in this complex context, especially about the role of phonological awareness (PA), rapid automatized naming (RAN) and other spoken language skills. This longitudinal study is the first systematic attempt to investigate the trajectory of literacy acquisition in Mandarin-speaking children and the impact of instruction in both Zhuyin Fuhao and character. The study was carried out in Taipei. A sample of 92 children were tested in their first grade (mean age of 6;7), and then followed up a year later in their second grade. A comprehensive PA battery was designed to measure implicit and explicit PA of syllables, onset-rime, phonemes and tones. RAN, spoken language skills and literacy skills, including reading accuracy and comprehension in Zhuyin Fuhao and character were also measured, alongside non-verbal intelligence and children’s home languages. It was found that the role of PA in early literacy development of Mandarin-speaking children in Taiwan varies as a function of the orthography system. PA was closely linked to ZF-related tasks and reading comprehension, but not character reading where it had no predictive role. On the other hand, graphological RAN was found to be a good predictor of reading performance in both scripts, both concurrently and longitudinally. Additionally, non-graphological RAN had a role in predicting lexical-related literacy skills. Lastly, all spoken language skills, except semantic fluency, were significantly associated with reading comprehension indicating that oral language competence contributes major variances in reading comprehension. Moreover, vocabulary and auditory memory were associated longitudinally with many CH-related tasks. However, the variance of ZF word reading or spelling could not be explained by any spoken language skills. Investigation of children with atypical development revealed that children with reading difficulties performed less well on RAN and PA tasks while children with speech difficulty performed less well on sub-syllabic PA, Zhuyin Fuhao literacy tasks and character recognition, but no differently to their peers on RAN and character reading accuracy and character knowledge in radical form or position. The theoretical, methodological and practical implications of these findings are discussed.
Supervisor: Joy, Stackhouse ; Bill, Wells Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available