The contribution of phonological and morphological awareness to word reading ability in L1 Hindi/ L2 English bilingual children: within-language and cross-language influences from L1 to L2. (2021)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
The ability to read materials, such as textbooks, is vital to achieve academic success in education. In many cases, such as the one considered in this thesis (that of India), this may require the acquisition of reading in a second language as well as first-language reading. Due to its complexity, the reading process is a challenge for children. Morphological awareness and phonological awareness are the cognitive-linguistic predictors that have been argued to address this complexity. In constructing meaning from written text, morphological knowledge can provide useful information about word structure and syntactic meaning. The knowledge on the construction of sound in the word is provided by phonological awareness. Both skills, independent of other reading-related skills, such as vocabulary, have been argued to facilitate reading competence. The study reported in this thesis considered the impact of morphological and phonological awareness on the ability to read Hindi (L1) and English (L2) words in the early years of learning these literacy skills. It also investigated the potential for morphological and phonological awareness to transfer from Hindi to English in support of word reading.
A series of pilot studies were implemented to develop Hindi and English measures appropriate for the present research context. These were then given to 213 children from KG to grade 3 in preschool and primary schools within the Delhi region of India, where Hindi was typically the first language of the children and English the second. The measures comprised a single word reading measure, three morphological awareness measures, five phonological awareness measures and a vocabulary measure in Hindi and English both languages.
The findings showed significant correlations between the phonology, morphology and vocabulary and the word reading measures in both Hindi and English. In addition, regression analyses indicated that morphological awareness was the largest predictor of variability in Hindi (first language) word reading ability, while phonological awareness was the larger for English (second language) word reading ability. In both cases, variability was predicted after controlling for vocabulary. Regressions investigating cross-language influences indicated that measures of Hindi predicted small, but significant, levels of variability in English word reading over-and-above the level of prediction provided by the English measures.
The findings suggest that phonological and morphological awareness both contribute to Hindi and English word reading, but that the main predictors vary across the two languages. They also provide some evidence for cross-language transfer of meta-linguistic awareness between Hindi and English. These observations have both theoretical and practical implications.
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