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Title: Cognitive, linguistic, and literacy development in young children learning English as an Additional Language
Author: Nielsen, Dea
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 5192
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2016
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Extensive research with monolingual children has established the importance of early code-related skills, memory, and oral language for children’s future literacy attainment, but less is known about the development of these skills in children who learn English as an Additional Language (EAL) in school. As there has been a particular lack of longitudinal research with this population spanning development during preschool and into early education, the aim of this thesis was to examine the performance and development of EAL children on measures of phonological awareness, letter-sound knowledge, rapid automatized naming, verbal memory, and oral language during this time frame. Additionally, once EAL children reached school age, their skills on these measures were compared to those of their monolingual peers, and the role of these cognitive and linguistic abilities in explaining individual differences in literacy skills (reading accuracy, fluency, comprehension, and spelling) was compared across groups. EAL children from diverse linguistic backgrounds (N=96) were first recruited in Nursery (3;7 years), and were reassessed in Reception, Year 1, and Year 2. Monolingual children (N=53) from the same schools were recruited and assessed in Years 1 and 2. Comparisons to both norms and the monolingual groups suggested that although EAL children’s cognitive and linguistic skills in English were very limited during Nursery, these skills showed accelerated development during Nursery to Reception, and their code-related and memory skills were very similar to those of monolingual children by the time they reached Reception or Year 1. However, oral language remained an area of weakness for these children, even at the final testing point. Finally, there were group differences in the contributions of cognitive and linguistic predictors to explaining differences in literacy outcomes. The relevance of these findings for our understanding of bilingual literacy development and the practical implications of this work are discussed.
Supervisor: Fricke, Silke ; Warmington, Meesha ; Stackhouse, Joy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available