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Predictors of grade 3 French immersion students' reading comprehension : the role of morphological awareness,.. Denizot, Isabelle Arlette Genevieve 2009

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PREDICTORS OF GRADE 3 FRENCH IMMERSION STUDENTS’READING COMPREHENSION: THE ROLE OF MORPHOLOGICAL AWARENESS,VOCABULARY AND SECOND LANGUAGE CULTURAL KNOWLEDGEbyISABELLE ARLETTE GENEVIEVE DENIZOTB.A., McGill University, 1990M.A., Université de Paris V, 1991D.E.A., Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, 1992B.Ed., The University of British Columbia, 1994A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Language and Literacy Education)THE UNIVERSITY OF BRJTISH COLUMBIA(Vancouver)October 2009© Isabelle Arlette Genevieve Denizot, 2009ABSTRACTResearch fmdings point to reading comprehensionas an important mediator of academicachievement for French immersion students (Hogan, Caffs,& Little, 2005). This researchinvestigated the best predictors of word reading andreading comprehension in French as asecond language in 72 Grade 3 students of an early Frenchimmersion programme. The presentresearch is based on Bemhardt’s (2005) model of secondlanguage reading, which views readingcomprehension as an interactive-compensatory process.Four main questions guided thisprogram of study: (1) What is the best predictorof word reading among phonological awareness,spelling, verbal working memory, vocabulary and morphologicalawareness in Grade 3 Frenchimmersion students? (2) What is the best predictor of readingcomprehension amongphonological awareness, spelling, verbal working memory,vocabulary and morphologicalawareness in Grade 3 French immersion students?(3) What is the relative role of secondlanguage cultural knowledge compared to phonologicalawareness, spelling, verbal workingmemory, vocabulary and morphological awarenessin Grade 3 French immersion students’reading comprehension? and (4) What do French immersionGrade 3 students perceive asdifferent in a culturally less and more familiartext that affected their reading comprehension andwhich cultural context do they prefer and why?Results from hierarchical regression analysesshowed that phonological awareness andspelling predicted word reading, whereas morphologicalawareness predicted readingcomprehension of isolated sentences. Reading comprehensionof a narrative text with morefamiliar cultural emphasis was predicted by receptivevocabulary (EVIP). Readingcomprehension of a narrative text with less familiar culturalemphasis was predicted by second11language cultural knowledge, followed by morphological awareness. However, participantsperceived the culturally more familiar passage easier and perceived the culturally less familiarpassage as more engaging.Thus, results from the study appear to confinn that reading is an interactive compensatoryprocess. Several theoretical, pedagogical and programme development implications aredrawnfrom the present research.Keywords: phonological awareness, spelling, morphological awareness, vocabulary, secondlanguage cultural knowledge, word reading, reading comprehension, French immersion.111TABLE OF CONTENTSABSTRACTiiTABLE OF CONTENTSivLIST OF TABLES.. vuLIST OF FIGURESixACKNOWLEDGEMENTS...... xCHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION11.1 FRENcH IMMERSION CONTEXT21.2 RESEARCH PROBLEM31.3 PuRP0SEOFTHESTuDY51.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY51.5 THEsIs ORGzATIoN7CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW.. .. .. 92.1 REAtrNG THEORY AND READING COMPREHENSION92.1.1 The Traditional View: Bottom-up Reading Processes112.1.2 The Cognitive View: Top-down, SchemaTheory and Interactive and Reading Processes142.1.2.1 Top-down Reading Processes142.1.2.2 Schema Theory162.1.2.3 Interactive Model of Reading Processes172.1.3 The Sociocognitive View: CompensatoryModel of Second Language Reading212.1.3.1 Description of the Model232.2 EMpHUCAL RESEARCH ABOUT IMPORTANT VAlUABLES INSECOND LANGUAGE READING COMPREHENSION..272.2.1 Phonological Awareness282.2.1.1 The Development of Phonological Awareness282.2.1.2 Factors Influencing Language Abilities302.2.1.3 The Role of Phonological Awareness in Reading322.2.2 Spelling462.2.3 Verbal Working Memory512.2.4 Vocabulary572.2.5 Morphological Awareness612.2.5.1 The Role of Syntactic Awareness in Reading642.2.5.2 The Role of Morphological Awareness in Reading722.2.6 Second Language Cultural Knowledge782.2.6.1 The Concept of Culture782.2.6.2 The Concept of Second Language Cultural Knowledgeand its Importance in ReadingComprehension832.2.6.3 The Role of Second Language Cultural Knowledge inReading Comprehension 862.2.6.3.1 Cultural Schemata and Participants’Ethnic Background862.2.6.3.1.1 Studies Keeping Rhetoric StructuresConstant and Manipulating the Content882.2.6.3.1.2 Studies Varying Rhetoric Structures and Manipulatingthe Content902.2.6.3.2 Manner and Type of Background KnowledgeGiven to Readers912.2.6.3.3 Topic Familiarity and Related Proficiency Level932.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MODEL FOR THE PRESENTSTuDY972.4 RESEARCH QuESTIoNs102CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY....... .. ...... ............. 1033.1 RESEARCH SETflNG1033.1.1 The French Immersion Programme1033.1.2 Research Site103iv3.1.3 Participants .1043.1.4 Design1053.2 EThICAL CoNsIDERATION1063.3 MEASuRES1083.3.1 Word Reading1093.3.2 Reading Comprehension1113.3.2.1 Reading Comprehension of Isolated Sentences1113.3.2.2 Reading Comprehension of Narrative Texts with Cultural Emphasis1153.3.2.2.1 Passages1153.3.2.2.2 Free Recall Measure1203.3.2.2.3 Comprehension Questions Measure1223.3.3 Phonological Awareness1233.3.4 Spelling1243.3.5 Verbal Working Memory1253.3.6 Vocabulary1273.3.7 Morphological Awareness1293.3.8 Second Language Cultural Knowledge1303.3.9 Interviews1323.3.10 Relationships Between Variables Tested in this Study1343.4 PROCEDUREs OF ADMINISTRATION1363.5 DATAANMXSIS1383.6 SUMMARY OF MEASURES AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS144CHAPTER 4: RESULTS1494.1 QUANTITATIvE RESULTS1504.1.1 Descriptive Statistics1504.1.2 Correlations1554.1.3 Regression Analyses1584.1.3.1 Research Question 1 (Word Reading)1594.1.3.2 Research Question 2 (Reading Comprehension of IsolatedSentences) 1604.1.3.3 Research Question 3 (Reading Comprehension ofNarrativeTexts 161with Cultural Emphasis)1614.1.3.3.1 Comprehension Questions ofNarrative Texts with CulturalEmphasis 1624.1.3.3.2 Recall of Narrative Texts with Cultural Emphasis1644.2 QuALITATIVE FINDINGS - RESEARCH QUESTIoN 4 (PARTICWANT5’PERCEPTION OF AND PREFERENCE INCULTuI READING COMPREHENSION)1674.2.1 Interview Question 1 (Story Easiness)1674.2.1.1 Elements of the Narrative1694.2.1.2 Language ofthe Text1714.2.2 Interview Question 2 (Story Preference)1764.2.2.1 Setting1784.2.2.2 Social Interactions1814.3 SYNmESIS OF REsuLTs183CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION.. 1865.1 SuMMARY0FREsULTs1875.2 DISCUSSION1895.2.1 The Role of Lower Level Skills in Word Reading1895.2.2 The Role of Higher Level Skills in Reading Comprehension1915.2.3 The Role of Second Language Cultural Knowledge in Reading Comprehension1965.3 CoMPENSATORY MODEL OF PREDICTORS OF SECOND LANGUAGE READING2045.4 IMPLICATIONS: TURNING THE TIDE2075.4.1 Theoretical Implications2075.4.2 Pedagogical Implications2095.4.2.1 Development of French Phonological Skills2095.4.2.2 Development of Morphological Ability210V5.4.2.3 Development of Vocabulary.2115.4.2.4 Development of Second Language Cultural Knowledge2125.4.3 Programme Development Implications214CHAPTER 6: LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH2156.1 LIMITATIoNS2156.2 SuGGESTIoNS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH218BIBLIOGRAPHY220APPENDICES- 243APPENDIx A UBC RESEARCH ETHICS CEWnFICATE244APPEInx B LE’rJtR TOP2asmrS245APPn.uIx C Woiw REALRNG TASK250APnmix D READNG COMPREHENSION OF ISOLATED SENTENCES TASK251APPENDIx E REwuiG COMPREHENSION OF NARRATIvE TEXTS wim CULTURAl.EMPHASIS TASK 254APPENDIx F SEwnC PROPOSITIONAL ANALYSIS259APPENDIx G PHONOLOGICAL AwARENESS TASK263APPENDIX H SPELUNG TASK264APPENDIx I VERBAL WORK1NG MEMORY TASK265APPENDIX J VoCAmJLpatY TASK267APPENDIx K MORPHOLOGICAL AwARENESS TASK269APPENDIX L SECOND LANGUAGE CULTURAL KNOWLEDGETASK270APPENDIX M NTHRWEw QUESTIONS274viLIST OF TABLESTable 3.1 Grade, Number of Schools, Divisions,Participants, Gender,and Average Age105Table 3.2 Frequency and Percentage of First LanguageSpoken 106Table 3.3 Comparison of Cultural Passages119Table 3.4 Summary of Research Questions, Quantitativeand ExploratoryQualitative Measures, and Data Analysis145Table 4.5 Ranges, Means, Standard Deviations,and Skewness of Outcomeand Predictor Variables in Grade 3 French (n 72)151Table 4.6 Differences for Cultural Passage MeasureBetween Culturally Lessand More Familiar Passage Comprehension in Grade3 French (n = 72) 154Table 4.7 Correlation Matrix of Outcome andPredictor Variables in Grade 3French(n=72)156Table 4.8 Model for the Hierarchical Regressionon Word Identification (FIAT)in Grade 3 French (n = 72). Predictors Entered in Order:Vocabulary, VerbalWorking Memory, Phonological Awareness, Spelling,and MorphologicalAwareness159Table 4.9 Model for the Hierarchical Regressionon Reading Comprehension ofIsolated Sentences (LMC-R) in Grade 3 French (n 72).Predictors Enteredin Order: Vocabulary, Verbal Working Memory,Word Reading,Phonological Awareness, Spelling, and MorphologicalAwareness 161Table 4.10 Model for the Hierarchical Regressionon Comprehension Questions ofCulturally Less and More Familiar Passages in Grade3 French (n = 72).Predictors Entered in Order: Verbal Working Memory,Second languageCultural Knowledge, Vocabulary, Morphologicalawareness, PhonologicalAwareness, and Spelling163Table 4.11 Model for the Hierarchical Regressionon Recall of Culturally Less andMore Familiar Passages in Grade 3 French (n 72). PredictorsEntered inOrder: Predictors Entered in Order: Verbal Working Memory,Second languageCultural Knowledge, Vocabulary, Morphologicalawareness, PhonologicalAwareness, and Spelling165Table 4.12 Reasons for Easiness of Culturally MoreFamiliar over LessFamiliar Passage Comprehension169vi’mAt’81(L=u)qouarjEopn.wjJ.n8uo1880120)JuoSflflSO)JaAnmnuPnOjosisaqjuA.ajqnj8LIuoisuaipidwoonssjsnqauujaJO$JJQAOimjtwjS8a9AlltJmlflDJOaoonjasjiojsuosa>jLitzqjLIST OF FIGURESFigure 2.1 A compensatory model of second language reading23Figure 3.2 Relationships between variables tested for the present study134Figure 4.3 Occurrences of participants’ perceptions on easinessofcultural passages168Figure 4.4 Occurrences of participants’ preferences of culturalpassages 177Figure 5.5 Compensatory model of predictors of second languagereading 205ixACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to express my deep gratitude to my supervisor Dr.Monique Boumot-Trites.She has always been willing to give of her time, insightand help throughout the planning andwriting of this thesis. In discussing my drafts,she always provided me with valuable feedbackand helpful suggestions. Her warm encouragement, academicguidance, and practical supporthave been a great strength to me.I would like to thank Dr. Carmen Medina for readingthe preliminary proposal. I alsothank Dr. Bruno Zumbo for giving me useful commentsfor research design and answeringmyquestions about statistical analyses as wellas providing feedback on the fmal stagesof mywriting. I also thank Dr. Theresa Rogers foroffering thoughtful and helpful advice onthe fmalstages of my writing.Great thanks go to John Shewan who provided mewith very valuable suggestions forthewriting and organization at various stages of the paper.My thanks extend to the principals, teachers, learningassistance teachers, and children ofthe Burnaby School District for their cooperationand participation in this research.I am also grateful to Richard and Delia Laudadio,Chantal Lipinski, and Velma Sutherlandfortheir cooperation and assistance withdata collection.Very special thanks go to my mother MichelleDenizot, my brother Stëphane Deriizot,and Michael de Jong for their encouragement in manydifficult situations and their unconditionalsupport in my academic endeavors.xThis thesis isdedicated to the memoryofmy father, MichelDenizot,who was passionate aboutthe pursuit of knowledge.xiCHAPTER 1: fl’1TRODUCTION“Every act of comprehension involves one’sknowledge of the world as well.”(Anderson, Reynolds, Schallert, &Goetz, 1977,p.379)The ability to read fluently and with adequate comprehensionis considered a hallmark ofskilled reading in first and second languages(Grabe, 2002; Koda, 2005). The idea expressedbythe above quote is certainly not new, but it is one worthreflecting upon when consideringreading comprehension in a second language. Infact, research indicates that the mature readersacquire meaning from text by analyzing wordsand sentences against the backdrop oftheirpersonal knowledge of the world (Freebody,2007; OECD, 2007).In addition, rapid social change linked to globalizationand the diversification of society,as well as political change calling for increased levelsof bilingualism in Canada, havealsocreated a demand for programs such as Frenchimmersion (Cummins, 2000). Thereare over300,000 English-speaking students in Frenchimmersion programs in Canada (CPF, 2006).In2007, 41,441 students enrolled in early and late Frenchimmersion programs in public schoolsacross British Columbia. Predictions arethat enrolment will reach 45,000 studentsby the year2010 (CASLT, 2008).Research findings point to reading comprehensionas an important mediator of academicachievement for French immersion students (Hoganet al., 2005). Because reading is suchanimportant mediator of academic achievement,being able to accurately assess the abilityto readin French is of paramount importanceso students can receive support if needed. There is aneverincreasing awareness and interest inthe issues related to French immersionreading1comprehension in Canada. Therefore, this research focused onthe best predictors1of wordreading and reading comprehension in French asa second language in the context of Frenchimmersion.1.1 French Immersion ContextThe term immersion education caine to prominence in Canada duringthe 1960s.“In 1965, some 23 years prior to the Official Languages Act, Canadapioneeredinnovative second language education programs topromote the acquisition of Canada’stwo official languages. French immersion programswere first introduced in Canadianschools in the Quebec community of St-Lambert. Thegoals of this programme were toprovide Anglophone children residing in Quebecwith enhanced and extendedopportunities to become bilingual in English and Frenchwithin the context of publicschooling.” (Genesee, 2006,p.1)In British Columbia, French immersion has beenpart of the public education systemsince its introduction in 1968. In the present context,French immersion designs a situation wherechildren of diverse linguistic and cultural milieu, whodo not have any prior contact with theFrench language, are placed together in the same classroomwhere the second language, French,is the language of instruction. The language of instruction in Frenchimmersion schools in BritishColumbia is exclusively in French until Grade 3, althoughthe mother tongue of the students isEnglish or other languages. After Grade 3, classesare usually taught in French 50% of the timeand in English 50% of the time except in some caseswhere the ratio is 80% in French and 20%in English. Furthermore, the goal of the French immersionprogramme is “to have children befunctionally competent in oral and written French(...)develop in them an attitude ofunderstanding and respect towards French language andculture, while preserving their owncultural identity” (Genesee, 1987,pp.12-13, Translation by author).The term predictors is used as to encompass concurrentvalidity and not predictive validity as the research does notinvolve a time component.2Thus, French immersion is distinct from the traditional approachesto bilingual educationbecause the second language is not only explicitly taughtbut is also the medium of curriculuminstruction.1.2 Research ProblemFrench immersion students in Canada are taught toread in French as soon as they beginto speak the language. “In many forms of immersion, studentsare taught literacy skills in Frenchbefore receiving formal literacy instruction in English”(Genesee, 2007,p.1). Although theFrench immersion programme has had greatsuccess in Canada since 1965 (Stern, 1991),someconcerns remain (Bournot-Trites & Séror, 2003; Hogan& Harris, 2005; Keep, 1993; Stern,1991). These concerns relate to the qualityof French oral and written skills studentsattain, andthe relatively high drop out rate in immersion programs(Keep, 1993; Stern, 1991). Stern (1991)noted that only 50 % to 60% of the students startingin Kindergarten continue until Grade6.Keep’s (1993) review of available researchsuggests that academic and behavioraldifficultiesconstitute major factors in predicting transfer of Frenchimmersion students to the regularEnglish programme. In addition, French immersionstudents in Grade 7 have reported difficultieswith reading in French for content learning (Bournot-Trites& Séror, 2003).The ability to read and comprehend subject matter iscore to learning. Readingcomprehension is a vital cornerstonein early French immersion because subject mattersaretaught in French, especially in the later grades. In orderto learn content, students needtounderstand what they read. As students progressin the French immersion curriculum,expectations increase regarding their abilityto read French content for comprehension.Withoutthis ability, students will experience increased difficultyachieving success in subject matterstaught in French. This difficulty will compound in higher-levelsubjects within any immersionprogramme. Mathematics, Science, andSocials Studies are areas where academicsuccess is3directly related to second language proficiency.Weaker comprehension skills maybe a factor inthe large number of students transferring outfrom French immersion programmes.In the early stages of learning to read withinthe context of a second language,studies inalphabetic languages (Armand, 2000; Chiappe& Siegel, 1999; Cisero & Royer, 1995; DaFontura & Siegel, 1995; Durgunoglu, Nagy,& Hancin-Bhatt, 1993; Gottardo,Yan, Siegel, &Wade-Woolley, 2001; Perragaux,1994) and non-alphabetic languages (Abu-Rabia& Siegel,2002; Chiappe & Siegel, 1999; Chiappe,Siegel, & Gottardo, 2002a; Chiappe,Siegel, & WadeWoolley, 2002b) as wellas studies in French immersion (Bournot-Trites& Denizot, 2005b;Bruck & Genesee, 1995; Bruck, Genesee,& Caravolas, 1997; Comeau, Cormier,Grandmaison,& Lacroix, 1999; Genesee, 1979; Lafrance& Gottardo, 2005; Rubin & Turner, 1989;Tingley,Dore, Lopez, Parsons, Campbell,Kay-Raining Bird, & Cleave, 2004) haveshown thatphonological awareness predicts word readingin second language. However, phonologicalawareness was a predictor of a smaller amountof variance in reading comprehensionin Frenchin French immersion (Boumot-Trites& Denizot, 2005b).The literature acknowledges the relationshipof other variables such as spelling,verbalworking memory, vocabulary,morphological awareness, syntacticawareness and secondlanguage cultural knowledge with readingand their role in literacy.In English, various studieshave shown that spelling (Bruck, 1988;Hans & Willows, 1998; Sprenger-Charolles,Siegel, &Bonnet, 1998; St. Pierre, Laing, &Morton, 1995; Stuart & Masterson, 1992;Walton, 1997),verbal working memory (Baddeley,1983; Chiappe, Hasher,& Siegel, 2000; Chiappe et al.,2002a; Gottardo, Stanovich, & Siegel,1996; Muter & Snowling, 1998),vocabulary (Hsueh-Chao& Nation, 2000), syntactic awareness (Cupples& Holmes, 1992; Tunmer, Herriman,& Nesdale,1988; Tunmer, Nesdale, & Wright,1987, 1999), and morpho-syntacticawareness (Ziarko &Mélancon, 1999) predicted readingcomprehension. In addition, first languagereading studies4with children (Johnston, 1984; Pearson, Hansen, & Gordon,1979), studies with English as asecond language adult readers (Carrell, 1981a, 1981b, 1987;Chen & Graves, 1995; Johnson,1981, 1982; Kang, 1992; Lee, 1986b; Steffensen, Joag-Dev,& Anderson, 1979; Yuet & Chan,2003) and with English as a second language children(Campbell, 1981; Droop & Verhoeven,1998a; Garcia, 1991; Kerkhoff& Vallen, 1985) have indicatedthat prior knowledge of passagecontent is a variable that can account for a significantproportion of the variance in readingcomprehension. A common result of these studies wasthat readers read faster and recalled moreand made more appropriate elaborationson culturally more familiar texts. Conversely,readersrecalled less and made more distortions of the culturallyless familiar texts. Yet, few studies havebeen conducted in French immersionabout the best predictors of reading comprehension.This isthe purpose of the present study.1.3 Purpose of the StudyThe purpose of this study is to examine the relativerole of predictors of Frenchimmersion students’ word reading and reading comprehensionat the primary school level whenthey are receiving instruction in French. In particular,I will investigate the relative roleofphonological awareness, spelling, verbal workingmemory, vocabulary, morphologicalawareness and second language cultural knowledge inFrench of Grade 3 French immersionstudents to determine the best predictors of readingcomprehension.1.4 Significance of the StudyThe significance of the study lies in its contributionto reading research in a secondlanguage. The following research study is of particularinterest in the present Canadianbilingualcontext, as it will expand the body of knowledge conceptualizingwhat it means to read inasecond language, especially in the French immersioncontext. The present study willhavetheoretical, pedagogical, and programmedevelopment implications.5Theoretically, the study will be useful to extend the knowledge relevantto readingdevelopment about the role of different variables in second languagereading comprehension.With regard to implications in pedagogy, the findings of the presentstudy could helpteachers make instructional choices within the context of French languageinstruction at theelementary immersion level. There are a number of pedagogical areasthat this research mayimpact by emphasizing instructional approachesto phonological awareness, morphologicalawareness, vocabulary, and cultural knowledge insecond language classes. The results fromthisstudy could help teachers to formulate more suitable instructionaltechniques for readingcomprehension to expand students’ second languagelearning for content. In particular,addressing morphology skills using a counterbalancedapproach (Lyster, 2007) through noticing,awareness and production activities. In addition, thefindings of this study could alsohelp toformulate instructional practices that bridge thecultural knowledge gap between the nativeculture of the reader and the culture of thesecond language, in this case of Frenchtext Forexample, expanding students’ lexical knowledge andsecond language cultural knowledge couldbe very helpful for second language reading comprehension.Such teaching strategies couldenable students to make relations betweentheir schematic knowledge and text information.Research that examines reading comprehension in thecontext of programmedevelopment for French immersionis particularly relevant in view of the increasinglymultilingual nature of student populations in Frenchimmersion. In addition, the insights obtainedthrough this research could be usedto guide teachers in providing students the support requiredfor academic success. This success wouldact to encourage more students to remain inthe Frenchimmersion programme to high schoolgraduation.61.5 Thesis OrganizationThe research following is divided by chapter.Following this introductory chapter, Chapter 2 willpresent a review of the relevantliterature. In Chapter 2, the concepts of second languagereading processes and comprehensionare discussed through Bernhardt’ s (2005) compensatorymodel ofsecond language reading asthe theoretical framework of the present study. The mainvariables that influence secondlanguage reading comprehension are alsoexamined in this chapter. Chapter 2 endswith thespecific questions underlying this research.Chapter 3 introduces the context and researchsetting of the study. It describestheparticipants and defmes the measures used. Chapter3 also outlines the methods of datacollection and data analysis. The chapterfocuses on the quantitative approachin educationalresearch, especially the use of regressionanalyses. Explanation is offeredas to why thisapproach is appropriate for the research questionsto follow. Chapter 3 also providesreason forthe use of some exploratory qualitativeanalysis within the study.Chapter 4 describes the results relatedto each of the research questions, frombothquantitative and qualitative sources. The chapter furtherprovides tables of mean scores,correlations among literacy, phonological,and linguistic variables and the predictionof literacyskills at the end of Grade 3 in French immersionas well as the themes discerned from interviewdata.Chapter 5 discusses the research fmdings andtheir implications. The chapter suggeststheoretical, pedagogical, and programmedevelopment implications derived fromthe results.Chapter 6 states the limitations ofthe present study and offers suggestionsfor furtherresearch in the area of French immersioneducation.7The appendices include the ethics certificate, the lettersent to the parents, the tasks andtheir scoring procedures to give a more precise idea ofthe data used and the interviewquestions.8CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEWChapter 2 explores theoretical and empirical issues related to second language readingskills. The first part of Chapter 2 investigates the theoretical framework for research in secondlanguage reading comprehension, drawing on similarities and differences with first languageresearch. Special emphasis is placed on reading as an interactive and compensatory process.Part two of this chapter reviews current research in first and second language, and Frenchimmersion. In particular, the relationship between the cognitive and linguistic processes such asphonological awareness, spelling, verbal working memory, vocabulary, morphologicalawareness, and second language cultural knowledge, and word reading and readingcomprehension is examined and discussed.2.1 Reading Theory and Reading ComprehensionAs reading comprehension is the focal point of the present study, it is essential to start thereview of the literature by describing its process.The extensive research and theories of reading comprehension are based primarily onresearch conducted with monolingual English speakers. Reading can be approached fromdifferent perspectives which are interrelated (Day & Bamford, 1998). These includepsychological, cognitive, educational, philosophical, affective and socio-cultural perspectives.Based on the recent literature, all of these are operationalized with variables that influence theprocess of reading comprehension of both first and second language speakers (Bemhardt, 2005).Learning to read is not a natural, simple or automatic task. Reading involves thesimultaneous cognitive processes of linking the abstractions of phonemes (sounds) to graphemes(letters) to morphemes (words). Beginning readers must acquire the alphabetic principle. Thealphabetic principle is defined as “useable knowledge of the fact that phonemes can be9represented by letters, such that whenever a particular phoneme occurs in a word, and inwhatever position, it can be represented by the same letter” (Byrne & Fielding-Barnsley, 1989,p.313). It rests on an awareness of the internal phonological structure of words that the alphabetrepresents. In other words, that is the ability to use the sounds with letters to form words. In time,readers will likely learn to recognize frequent patterns of letters in words, which will increase therate at which words are identified. However, the ability to decode words represents only a part ofthe total reading process.Readers must also understand what the words mean when they are put together in thecontext of propositions, sentences and paragraphs. The ultimate goal of the abovementionedcognitive processes is to arrive at comprehension (meaning). Thus, learning to read in anylanguage, involves the acquisition of word decoding ability (Gough & Tunmer, 1986; Juel,Griffith, & Gough, 1986) and the ability to comprehend written texts (Weber, 1991). Grabe(1988) indicates that “a description of reading has to account for notions that fluent reading israpid, purposeful, interactive, comprehending and gradually developing” (p. 44). Without theability to decode and comprehend text, reading cannot occur. In addition, within the context ofFrench immersion, students also need to read text that may have a French cultural content.Therefore, students need to learn to become engaged and culturally competent readers in thesecond language.This chapter will describe theories and models of reading which seem to be most closelyrelated to this study and will relate them to each other as much as possible to provide a generaldescription of the cognitive processes involved in reading. Just like teaching methodology,reading theories have had their shifts and transitions.Many of these theories started with the traditional view which focused on the printedform of text such as bottom-up theories (Gough, 1972; LaBerge & Samuels, 1974). Theories10then moved to the cognitive view that enhanced the role of background knowledge in addition towhat appeared on the printed page. Referred to as top-down theories, they included schematheory (Anderson & Pearson, 1984; Goodman, 1970) and interactive theory (Rumeihart, 1977;Stanovich, 1980). Reading theories then shifted to the socio-cognitive view taking into accountthe dynamic nature of language and cognitive aspects of reading. These theories are based on asystem of storing and retrieving past knowledge, with the reader mediating and transacting withthe text. They include transactional theory (Rosenblatt, 1994) and in second language thecompensatory model ofreading (Bernhardt, 2005). Some research (Block, 1992) examined thecontrol and manipulation that a reader can have on the act of comprehending text. This control isrelated to metacognition and gave rise to the metacognitive view. However, the present researchdid not examine reading strategies. Thus, the metacognitive view will not be discussed in thispaper.A review of the above mentioned theories and models would help identify the majorvariables that influence reading comprehension, especially when considered within the context ofFrench immersion.2.1.1 The Traditional View: Bottom-up Reading ProcessesEarly research in English as a first language reading viewed reading as a receptiveprocess. One of the first models was the simple view model ofreading (Gough, 1972). In thismodel, reading comprehension (R) was viewed as the product of decoding (D) and linguisticcomprehension (L) such as R = D x L. The reader “plods through the sentence, letter by letter,word by word” (Gough, 1972, p. 354). In the simple view of reading,“The linguistic comprehension must assess the ability to understand language (e.g., byassessing the ability to answer questions about the contents of a listened to narrative).Similarly, a measure of reading skill must assess the same ability, but one where thecomprehension process begins with print (e.g., by assessing the ability to answerquestions about the contents of a read narrative.” (Hoover & Gough, 1990,p. 131)11In this model, linguistic comprehension is the ability to take lexical information andderive sentence and discourse interpretations. Reading comprehension involves the same ability,differing only in its reliance on graphic-based information. In this respect, the reader is not aguesser. The model is called bottom-up, and is data driven. By definition, in bottom-upprocessing the reader perceives input, which progresses from the lowest level of reading,decoding, to the higher levels of comprehending. It assumes that the reader is a blank slate. Atthe lowest level, the reader interprets symbols (letter recognition) and associate letters-sounds-words. Following the process of decoding, the reader assembles words into sentences tocomprehend a whole text and assign meaning. LaBerge and Samuels (1974) extended the modelby postulating that these text recognition processes have to become automatic before the readercan attend to the meaning of the text.In addition, as part of a developmental model, Ehri (1989) formulated a hypothesisstating that an intermediary stage exists between readers recognizing words on the basis of visualcharacteristics and reading through phonological recoding. Ebri (1995, 1996, 1998) proposed amodel of sight word recognition in four phases: pre-alphabetic, partial alphabetic, fullalphabetic and consolidated alphabetic. During the first phase (pre-aiphabetic), the beginningreader recognizes words on the basis of selective associations founded on the words’ visualcharacteristics. During the second phase (partial alphabetic), the novice reader starts associatingsome but not all of the letters in printed words and their sound equivalents. During the thirdphase (full alphabetic), all graphemes are converted into phonemes. Finally, in the fourth phase(consolidated alphabetic), larger spelling units (onset-rhyme) but also morphemic units (roots)are used to recognize words as wholes.In this developmental model, Ehri (1995) explains how beginners acquire the ability torecognize sight words rapidly and automatically. Ehri’s (1995) research reveals that “mature12forms of sight word learning are alphabetic and phonological at root” (p. 117). For skilledreaders, the stored orthographic information is more easily available and the process is alsofaster. However, “the availability of that information has to be distinguished from the actual useof that knowledge as reflected in the word recognition process” (Geva, Wade-Woolley, & Shany,1997,P.121). Efficient letter naming has been seen by Ebri (1991) as essential to accuratedecoding skills in English as a second language. Speed is only acquired after reading skillsaccuracy is achieved (Ebri & Wilce, 1983).However, in second language, “it is not letter naming per Se, but familiarity withphonemes associated with each letter that is a necessary and crucial skill” (Geva et al., 1997,p.140). Differences in availability and utilization of orthographic information may appear moredramatic in the development of literacy in a second language. Although relevant to wordrecognition processes in a second language, accuracy and speed do not merge concurrently insecond languages. In the very early stages of learning to read in a second language, accuracydistinguishes the good from the poor readers in both languages. Reading speed continues todevelop even when second language readers have achieved high accuracy rates. Finally, specificlanguage features such as orthographic depth, morphosyntactic complexity and depth of lexicalfamiliarity may interact with more global second language proficiency effects in thedevelopment of second language reading skills (Geva et al., 1997).Although the bottom-up process is considered to be efficient and fast, it does not take intoaccount the information stored in the memory of the reader. In fact, in discussing Gough’ smodel, Rumethart (1977) showed that bottom-up models failed to allow for the fact that thecomprehension of letters, words and sentences are all affected by higher level processing. Themeaning of a sentence is affected by the context in which it appears and in this way higher-levelprocesses are used to enhance lower level input. Thus, psychologists, artificial intelligence13researchers and some linguists sought to learn more about the cognitive processes involved inreading. Understanding reading processes as well as the psycholinguistic and cognitivemechanisms associated with them became integral to the psychology of reading acquisition(Caravolas, 1993).The consideration of higher level processes in reading brought a different approach toreading which emphasized the constructive nature of comprehension, known as top-down. Thistop-down model combined the interactive nature of reading processes to include the role ofschema. In these reading models of the 1 970s and 1 980s, the process of interpretation suggestedthat input is mapped against some existing schema and that some aspects of that schema maybecompatible with the input of information. These models will be discussed in the next section.2.1.2 The Cognitive View: Top-down, Schema Theory and Interactive andReading Processes2.1.2.1 Top-down Reading ProcessesIn the 1970s, the top-down process of reading was championed by Goodman (1970) whochanged the thinking about reading by adding a psycholinguistic aspect to it. In the frameworkthat Goodman called the psycholinguistic guessing game, reading was defined as “an activeprocess in which the reader produces hypotheses about the message of the text, then samplestextual cues to confirm or reject those hypotheses” (Goodman, 1970,p. 260). Top-downprocessing occurs as the reader follows a cyclical procedure of sampling of the text, predictingwhat will come next, testing predictions, confirming hypotheses and forming new hypotheses.This view of reading is often called concept-driven, since the reader only samples the text inorder to test hypotheses. In this approach, word recognition skills received minimal priority asthe reader was not passive but played an active part in the text interpretation.14Goodman’s (1970) view was probably too extreme in dismissing the role of wordreading. Contrary to the earlier predictions of top-down conceptualization, later research incognitive studies showed that most text words are thoroughly processed during reading. AsStanovich (1980) pointed out, if readers do not recognize a word or a phrase because it is lessfamiliar, they can compensate by using a top-down method of guessing. If the topic is lessfamiliar, the bottom-up process can be utilized. This compensation may account for differencesnot only among first language readers but also among proficient and less proficient readers in anadditional language. It can be argued that different people process text in different ways,depending on their individual purposes, attitudes, interests and background knowledge.In particular, the importance of previous knowledge had already been recognized veryearly on by Kant (1781). Kant claimed that new information, new concepts and new ideas canhave meaning only when they can be related to something the individual already knows. Anothercrucial issue was how the individual makes sense of the new information, how a person’sknowledge of the world interacts with incoming information, and how new information is addedto pre-existing concepts (Bartlett, 1932). This new information changed the accepted theory ofreading in first or additional language since the 1970’s and 1980’s from a bottom-up and top-down model to a schema-theoretic view of reading.It is presumed that humans depend on memory or previous knowledge of some kindwhen they interpret written cues (Ausubel, 1963). In the late 1970’s, Rumelhart and Ortony(1977) underlined the fact that knowledge was stored in long-term memory. Later on, Adams andCollins (1979) applied this notion to reading. Models in which a reader’s knowledge is at thecenter started to develop. Without previous knowledge, readers would not be able to take anactive part in comprehending a text. For example, they would not be able to make inferences and15hypotheses about what they are about to read next. Through the review of the pertinent literature,the next section will highlight the importance of schema theory in reading.2.1.2.2 Schema TheoryCognitive psychology took schema theory one step further and explained how mentalnetworks of information are created by experience and developed through each incomingstimulus (Rumeihart, 1980). However, Anderson and Pearson (1984) were the first to coin theterm schema theory. This term implied that a schema refers to“a statement written in abstract, inclusive terms deliberately introduced before a text andintended to provide a conceptual bridge between what the reader afready knows and thepropositions in the text that is hoped he will understand and learn.” (Anderson & Pearson,1984,p.258)Although there may be some debate over the origin of the concept of schema, it is suggested thatthe term schema was first introduced by Piaget (1926), who believed that humans developthrough a series of qualitative stages built upon common knowledge he called schemata.Although it was not an entirely new concept, Anderson and Pearson (1984) expanded itsmeaning.A schema is a generalized description or a conceptual system for understandingknowledge and how knowledge is represented and used. Each schema carries with it componentinformation which makes it meaningful to the reader. For example, the schema of a dog mayhave different slots. Within the schemafor dog is knowledge about dogs in general (four legs,tail, hair, barking, etc.) and information about specific dogs such as boarder collies (long hair,Lassie, etc.). The schemafor dog can also be thought of in a greater context of animals andliving species such as breathing, needing food and capable of reproduction. This schema can beextended to state that dogs are mammals and thus are warm-blooded and bear their puppies asopposed to laying eggs. Depending on one’s personal experience, the notion of a pet(domesticated, loyal to the master) or as an animal to fear (likely to bite and attack) may be part16of the schemafor dog. Each new experience incorporates more information into one’sschema.Schemata may be triggered by components of a schema (slots), or the slots may beinferredthrough activation of the schemata. In this way, words and phrases trigger schemata,which “actas models of thought and behaviour” (Sharifian, 2003,p.196).A schema can be activated by certain words or phrases more effectively thanby others.These words or phrases can act as triggering devices in the reading of a text.Individuals haveschemata for everything. Long before students come to school, they developschemata abouteverything they experience. Schema theory states that all knowledge is organizedinto units.Within these units of knowledge or schemata is information that is stored.Schemata becometheories about reality. These theories not only affect the way information isinterpreted orcomprehended, but also continue to change as new information is received.Although schema theory has contributed greatly to reading research, critics havepointedout that such top-down models do not defme sufficiently how text featuresand previousknowledge interact. Recent studies in reading comprehension have assertedthat neither thebottom-up nor the top-down approaches alone adequately characterize the readingprocess. Thiscomplex process has to be seen as a synthesis of both approaches. It is interactivein nature.Grabe (2002) points out that accepted theory of reading in second or foreignlanguage haschanged since the 1970’s from a bottom-up and top-down model to readingas an interactiveprocess.2.1.2.3 Interactive Model of Reading ProcessesThe interactive aspects of reading comprehension were addedby language researchers inthe late 1980’s (Goodman, 1988; Grabe, 1988) and 1990’s (Kintsch, 1998a, 1998b).Becausereading cannot be limited to its sole cognitive aspect, a clarification of what is meantbyinteractive aspects is essential in order to be able to see how interactive aspectsof reading can17accommodate other pertinent perspectives of reading. The term interactive is often used indifferent ways. In the context of the present study, the word interactive is used to mean theinteraction between text and reader as well as the interaction between the reader and his/herbackground knowledge. This defmition stresses the importance of reading as part of thecommunication process between the writer and the reader, mediated by the text. Thus, the terminteractive also means the interaction between top-down and bottom-up processes.Reviewing the relevant reading research since the 1990s, Kintsch (1998a, 1998b)developed a new way to discuss the interactive model of reading with two main levels: lower-level processes and higher-level processes. Kintsch called his model the construction-integrationframework, which he defined as:“The construction-integration model distinguishes between two main processes: aconstruction process, whereby a textbase containing the propositionalmeaning of the textis constructed from the textual input, and the integration process, whereby the constructedtextbase becomes integrated into the reader’s global knowledge, forming a coherentmental representation of what the text is about or a situation model.” (Kintsch, 1998b,p.96)Within this model, the bottom-up and top-down processes mentioned earlier are referredto as lower-level and higher-level processes. Those levels interact to result into a constructionintegration model. Word decoding and comprehension abilities combine and interactto producefluent reading. Within lower-level processing, readers must be able“to recognize lexical units by processing orthographic, morphemic and phonemicinformation and activate word meanings (lexical access), extract syntactic information(syntactic parsing), and integrate all the pieces of information (propositional integration),in a rapid, interactive and automated fashion, to create initial unit meanings.” (Grabe,2002,p.53)Within higher-level processing, readers must be able to assemble clause-levelinformation into a text model of understanding, referred to as a text modelofreading. As readersprepare to read each word, phrase or text, they form in their mind a summary representation ofthe basic meaning. In turn, this representation closely reflects textual information by combining18clause-level information and ideas. Readers also have to make appropriate inferences. Thisprocess is referred to as a situation model oftext interpretation (Kintsch, 1998a). To reach aninterpretative model of text (a situation model oftext interpretation), readers combine theirinitial representation (a text model ofreading) with other factors such as prior knowledge, priorexperience, cultural orientation and affect (motivation, attitude towards the text content) andevaluation of the text itself. The higher-level complex knowledge structures function as‘ideational scaffolding’ (Anderson et al., 1977) for the information in the text. This processallows the information to be readily assimilated.Reading comprehension can be conceptualized as a multi-dimensional process with twodifferent levels. Text level factors include the discourse structure, clarity and syntacticcomplexity. Reader level factors include reading and accuracy speed, linguistic comprehension,and background knowledge.However, in the context of second language reading, although all readers share somecommon knowledge, it is culturally specific knowledge that differentiates cultural groups(Anderson, Reynolds, Steffensen, & Taylor, 1982). The influence of the reader’s secondlanguage cultural knowledge on reading is important. Fundamental to the interactive readingmodel presented previously there must be some system of storing and retrieving past knowledge.Readers and especially second language readers are required to bring, use and apply theircultural orientation, past experience and/or prior knowledge, also referred to as top-downknowledge, in making sense of the written word. Within this second language context, usingconcepts of schema theory in combination with an interactive approach, Carrell and Eisterhold(1988) classified schemata used by second language readers into three different types:(a)linguistic, (b) content, and (c) formal.19Linguistic schemata are the reader’s prior knowledge and level of proficiency in thesecond language. The linguistic structure refers to the knowledge about grammatical structure ofa text (Carrell, 1988). Linguistic schemata is also known as literacy component (Bemhardt,1991a, 1991b).Content schemata are the reader’s prior background knowledge (Carrell, 1 983b, 1 983c;Urquhart & Weir, 1998), or world knowledge (Bemhardt, 1991b) of the content area of the textIt includes culture specific knowledge (Carrell, 1 983c) or cultural knowledge of the targetculture. Cultural competence (content schemata) is presently held to be equal in importance toliteracy competence (linguistic schemata) if reading comprehension is to occur in secondlanguage contexts (Carrel!, Devine, & Eskey, 1988; Maria, 1990).Formal schemata, also referred to knowledge ofform (Eskey, 1986), encompass thereader’s prior knowledge of the rhetorical structures of texts. A rhetorical structure refers toknowledge about the fonns and structures peculiar to texts or genres including fables, simplestories, scientific texts, and newspapers articles. When readers have knowledge of text structuresin the target language, comprehension increases (Urquhart & Weir, 1998).In the field of second language reading literature, native culture is recognized as a filterof perceptions and understandings of another culture, its language and people (Bemhardt, 1991a,1991b; Kramsch, 1991, 1993, 2003). It is important to see that second language culturalknowledge is likely to impact reading comprehension when reading in a second languagecontext. This is especially of importance in the French immersion context where in order to learnthe content of the subject matter being taught in French, students need to understand what theyare reading. Thus, the role of second language culturally conditioned knowledge in thecomprehension of written text has been part of the focus of Bemhardt’s compensatory model ofsecond language reading. Section 2.1.3 following outlines within the sociocognitive view of20reading Bemhardt’ s (2005) compensatory model ofsecond language reading for thepresentstudy.2.1.3 The Sociocognitive View: Compensatory Model of Second LanguageReadingAs early as the 1930’s, Vygotsky (1934) emphasized that different contextscreatedifferent forms of development. As development is a product of culture, culture andsocialinteraction are very important in cognitive development. Cognitive processessuch as language,thought and reasoning develop through social interaction. Social interaction withknowledgeableothers moves development forward through the zone ofproximal development (ZPD),i.e.,through the difference between the level of actual developmentand potential development.Bruner’ s (1996) sociocognitive stage theory went one step further emphasizing therole of socialinteraction and language. Language is important as it forms the basis of understanding.Withoutlanguage, thought is limited.Bemhardt (2005) defines a model of second language reading within the sociocognitiveview of reading as her model also takes into consideration the social functionof reading. In thesocial view the processing of text focuses on the social environment as it impactspersonalqualities such as thinking and feeling. This is in contrast to the cognitive theoryof reading. InBemhardt’ s (2005) model, the cognitive view includesfirst language literacyvariables (e.g.,aiphabetics, vocabulary, text structure, beliefs about word and sentence configuration)andsecond language knowledge variables (e.g., grammatical form, vocabulary knowledge,cognates,and first- and second-language linguistic distance. First language literacy variable‘alphabetics’and second language knowledge variable ‘grammatical form’ need also to be acquiredfor secondlanguage learners. According to Bemhardt (2009), “using literacy knowledge meansapplying21what a reader afready knows about written language to understand other written language”(p. 13).In addition to the cognitive view, in Bemhardt’s (2005) model, the social view includeshypothetical variables such as engagement, interest and motivation as well as content anddomain knowledge. Content and domain knowledge encompasses second language culturalknowledge. In Bemhardt’s sociocognitive model, the reading process depends on first andsecond language literacy knowledge, interest and attitudes of the reader. However, readers fromdifferent cultural backgrounds may read a text differently from native language readers. Eachcultural context provides a different reading of the text.In Bernhardt’s (2005) model, understanding is limited by the reader’s cultural schematawhich makes what the reader brings to the text as important as the text itself. Readers’ culturalschemata are changed as the reader progresses through the text and new knowledge and meaningis constructed. Therefore, Bemhardt (2005) argued for a compensatory model ofsecondlanguage reading. The model would formulate and capture a holistic depiction of the interactionof variables in the second language reading process. Bernhardt’s (2005) model views readingcomprehension as an interactive-compensatory process.“The model attempts to conceptualize how familiarity with orthographic patterns canfacilitate the word recognition process without actual language knowledge; or how thehigher the first language literacy level, the more it is available to buttress impoverishedsecond language processes or how the more word knowledge is developed, the more itfrees up resources to operate on more complex syntactic patterns and so forth.”(Bemhardt, 2005,p.140)The following section will present and define the compensatory model of secondlanguage reading for this research.222.1.3.1 Description of the ModelCCCa..0I ma ,vIj fl/I! f%’aaciers ((aflJ? hia12 lat, a I! praaIa( tn a’Developing ProficiencyFigure 1. A compensatory model of second language reading. Adaptedfrom Bemhardt (2005,p. 140).Bemhardt’s (2005) model is three dimensional in nature. The threedimensions are: (a)first language literacy knowledge, (b) second languageknowledge, and (c) unexplainedvariance2.First language literacy knowledge includes aiphabetics,vocabulary, text structure,beliefs about word and sentence configuration.Second language knowledge includesgrammatical form, vocabulary knowledge, cognates andfirst language/second languagelinguistic distance. Hypothetical variables includedcomprehension strategies, interest andmotivation, engagement, content and domainknowledge. According to Beruhardt (2005),“A compensatory model tries to model howknowledge sources assist or take over forother knowledge sources that are inadequate or nonexistent—i.e., what they useto2The term unexplained variance is normally used to indicate measurement errorwhen in fact Bemhardt (2005)defmes unexplained variance as a variety of variables that couldexplain the variance in reading comprehension.Therefore, in the rest of this text, I will use hypothetical variables instead of unexplainedvariance.23compensate for deficiencies.(...)It illustrates that knowledge sources are not additive,but rather operate synchronically, interactively.” (p. 140)Some variables selected from Bernhardt’s (2005) model are key to assessing readingcomprehension in the context of French immersion. Utilizing all of Bernhardt’ s variables wouldbe beyond the scope of the present study. I have limited myself to key variables in French suchas phonological awareness, spelling, verbal working memory, vocabulary, morphologicalawareness and second language cultural knowledge. These have all been shown to be importantin reading in second language and French immersion by empirical research. This empiricalresearch will be described in section 2.2.In Bernhardt’s model, the variable ‘beliefs about word’ “refers to the sound/symbolcorrespondences” (Bemhardt, 2009,p.12). Considerable information about phonologicalaspects, letter and how words are recognized is known in second language literacy contexts(Favreau, Komoda, & Segalowitz, 1980; Favreau & Segalowitz, 1982, 1984). Students usuallybegin school in their first language. Second language instruction follows in transition from thisbeginning. When students learn a second language, they transfer some literacy knowledgealready acquired in their first language (Selinker, 1991). It is important to note that early Frenchimmersion students start formal literacy in French in Kindergarten. At the Grade 3 level someFrench immersion students may afready have reading skills in English and most of them are incontact with English literacy both at home and in their communities. Thus, French immersionstudents transfer English literacy knowledge such as phonological awareness to their acquisitionof literacy in French (Comeau et al., 1999). However, measuring their literacy knowledge only intheir first language would not take into account what the students learned in schools in theirsecond or additional language programme (Boumot-Trites, Denizot, & Siegel, In preparation).Therefore, since the knowledge is transferred to French, measured literacy knowledge for the24purpose of the present research was conducted in French, which is the second language of theparticipants tested.Bemhardt’s second language knowledge ‘grammatical form’ refers to “linguistic featuressuch as morphology and syntax” (Bemhardt, 2009,p.13). However, morphology is differentfrom syntax. Syntax pertains to the status of the word (e.g., noun, verb, adjective, article) and thesentence construction in a text (e.g., word order in a sentence) (Gombert, 1992).Morphology refers to the morphemic structure of words. Morphological awareness is theability to reflect on and manipulate that structure. Morphology specifies the form of words fornumber or gender and those that convey information about tense or modes (e.g., verbs).Morphemes are the smallest units in a language that convey meaning. Grammatical morphemescan have a syntactic function. Articles, prepositions and conjunctions serve as examples of thisfunction (Gombert, Cole, Valdois, Goigoux, Mousty, & Fayol, 2000). French immersion studentstransfer the English language knowledge they may have such as morphological awareness totheir acquisition of literacy in French (Deacon, Wade-Woolley, & Kelly, 2006).In addition, how readers acquire word meanings (vocabulary) remains in large part agreat mystery. It is clear that children are not directly ‘taught’ the thousand of words that theylearn to use by the time they reach adolescence. Whether vocabulary causes reading ability orwhether fluent reading causes vocabulary knowledge is subject to ongoing research in the fieldof literacy. What is known however, is that word knowledge is crucial to the study of a secondlanguage (Nagy, 2005; Nagy, Herman, & Anderson, 1985). For a second language learner, theflexibility in lexical knowledge is essential. Anderson and Nagy (1991) noted “Really knowingaword(...)always means being able to apply it flexibly but accurately in a range of new contextsand situations” (p. 721).25Domain knowledge in Bernhardt’ s model (2005) was first labeled as world knowledge(Bernhardt, 1991 b). Domain knowledge refers to content schemata, which includesecondlanguage cultural knowledge. Examination of culturally determined cognitive structures, whichunderlie the production of distinctive discourse patterns in second language, is importantto theunderstanding of content schemata. Throughout the literature the role of background knowledgeas a facilitator of second language is well-established (Carrell & Grabe, 2002). However, itseffects have been moderate to weak in terms of statistical significance (Bernhardt,1991 b). Thisis due to the fact that the interplay between language proficiency (linguistic schemata)andbackground knowledge (content schemata) has often led to inconclusive or contradictoryresults.When investigating the effect of specific background knowledge (contentknowledge) onreading comprehension, Clapham (1996) found that the specificity of a text determinestherelative importance of background knowledge and language proficiency. Clapham(1996)emphasized that there is a certain threshold of language ability below which it isdifficult forreaders to use their background knowledge. Ridgway (1997) investigated the notionfurther andproposed a framework with a lower and an upper limit of threshold.Below the lower limit, poor readers cannot comprehend a given passage becausetheylack linguistic and background knowledge. In turn, this lack of linguisticand backgroundknowledge cause cognitive short-circuits that cannot be overcome even if the readerhas recourseto top-down reading strategies. Above the upper limit a proficient readerwill not show much interms of background knowledge effect unless the text content is highly specific.Intermediatelevel readers, which situate themselves between the lower and upper threshold,will show moreobvious background knowledge effect than proficient or poor readers. It canbe observed “thatlanguage proficiency levels play at least as important a role as backgroundknowledge in thecomprehension of reading texts” (Weir, Huizhong, & Yan, 2000,p. 26). Bartlett (1932)26recognized that when readers process unfamiliar text manifestations of the cultural differences inschemata are evident. Cultural schemata enable a reader to differentiate the mostimportantinformation in a text. When appropriate cultural schemata are available, readers maydifferentially allocate cognitive resources to what they perceive as most important ideas.Therefore, the compensatoly model ofsecond language reading proposed byBernhardt(2005) highlights the need to examine the interplay of morphology and vocabularyin textprocessing in a second language. Bemhardt’s model also calls for experimentsinvolvinghypothetical variables by using reading tasks that stimulate different levelsagainst the backdropof language and cultural knowledge. Key variables influencing the process of readingin secondlanguage can be derived from the compensatoly model ofsecond language reading.It isessential to examine those variables that potentially may playa role in reading comprehension ofFrench immersion Grade 3 students. In the present study, the variablesto be examined includephonological awareness, spelling, verbal working memory, vocabulary, morphologicalawareness and second language cultural knowledge. These variables will be introducedandexpanded upon in section 2.2.2.2 Empirical Research about Important Variables in Second Language ReadingComprehensionAny attempt to explain the processes whereby a text is understood ina second languageentails an understanding of the cognitive processes in which knowledgeis represented, processedand used in comprehension. Of particular importance to this study, especially inview of theparticipant’s linguistic background, is knowledge of the languageas well as knowledge of theworld (second language cultural knowledge). Knowledge of the languageincludes processes thatare significant in the development of reading skills. Some of thebasic cognitive skills involvedin reading development are: (a) phonological awareness, (b) spelling, (c)verbal working27memory, (d) vocabulary, and (e) morphological awareness. Knowledge of the world includessecond language cultural knowledge. Empirical research in second language research languageinvolving phonological awareness, spelling, verbal working memory, vocabulary, morphologicalawareness and second language cultural knowledge are presented and discussed in sections 2.2.1to 2.2.6.2.2.1 Phonological AwarenessPhonological awareness is defined as “the ability to reflect on and manipulate sublexicalphonological units such as syllables, onsets, rimes, and phonemes” (Bruck & Genesee, 1995,p.308). Phonological awareness skills are distinguished by the size of the unit (syllables andphonemes) and the task performed (rhyming, segmentation, blending, permutation, deletion,andisolating). Distinction among phonological awareness skills based on unit of word sfructureinclude: (a) syllables, or (b) smaller intrasyllabic units, like onset (initial consonant or consonantcluster present in many English syllables), or riffles (remaining vowel and consonants), or(c)phonemes, the minimal units of language realized in speech as individual sounds (Bruck &Treiinan, 1990). Sections 2.2.1.1. and 2.2.1.2 will discuss the development of phonologicalawareness and the phonological structure of language differences that might be expected toinfluence the development of certain phonological awareness skills. Section 2.2.1.3 will presentthe empirical research of the role of phonological awareness in word reading.2.2.1.1 The Development of Phonological AwarenessPhonological awareness develops gradually over time and is the phonological processingability most strongly related to early reading ability. In English as a first language, phonologicalskills progress from awareness of syllables (Liberman, Shankweiler, Fischer, & Carter, 1974) tophonemes (Bruck & Treiman, 1990; Bryant, MacLean, Bradley, & Crossland, 1990b; Treiman&Zukowski, 1991). Among Anglophones, the development of phonological awarenessspans from28early childhood and progresses from awarenessof larger units to increasinglysmaller units(Bruck & Treiman, 1990; Bryant etal., 1990b; Treiman & Zukowski,1991). Many four years-old and the majority of five year-old areable to segment words into syllablesand count thenumber of syllables in words (Libermanet al., 1974). These four and five-yearold can also judgewhether words begin or end with the samesyllable (Treiman & Zukowski, 1991).Between theages of five and six, children also developonset and rime awareness (Bryantet al., 1990b).Phoneme awareness normally developsbetween the ages of six andseven. Thisawareness is demonstrated in abilitiessuch as counting, isolatingand deleting phonemes fromstimulus word (Liberman et al.,1974; Stanovich, Cunningham,& Cramer, 1984). One sort ofmanipulation that remains difficultis the segmentation ofphonemes(Bruck & Treiman, 1990;Treiman & Zukowski, 1991).Even good readers in the thirdgrade failed to delete the firstphoneme of a complex onset (Treiman& Zukowski, 1996). Phonemicawareness is not a unitaryindivisible insight or ability.Some phonemic abilities (suchas phoneme blending) appear tobeprerequisite to learning to read, whereasother abilities (such as phonemedeletion) may beoutcomes of learning to read (Perfetti,Beck, Bell, & Hughes, 1987).Most children achieve minimal levelsof phoneme awareness priorto early readinginstruction. Learning the namesof letters and sounds they representprovides a base forphonemic ability. Phonological awarenessgenerally develops quicklyonce early readinginstruction begins. This istrue for children learning to readan alphabetic language that hastransparent orthography — consistentspelling to sound relationsand vice versa. The relativeeaseof syllable segmentation comparedto phoneme segmentation was confirmedusing a variety ofexperimental tasks while morerecent work has investigatedthe intermediary role played byonsets and rimes (Treiman& Zukowski, 1991, 1996).29Research indicates that pre-reaclers display good awareness of larger units such as thesyllable and the onset and rime, but display poor awareness of the smaller phoneme unit.Awareness of the phonemes is most imfluenced by the introduction of early readingskills. “Thisconceptualization of phonological awareness suggests that bilingualism may not increasephonological awareness skills in general, but may influence awareness of specificphonologicalunits” (Bruck & Genesee, 1995,p.310). However, phonological structure of language differs.These linguistic differences might be expected to influence the developmentof certain types ofskills in a second language, including phonological awareness skills. Factors influencinglanguage abilities will be explored in the following section.2.2.1.2 Factors Influencing Language AbifitiesTheorists have hypothesized about the factors that influence language abilities.Thechallenges facing second language readers are the orthographic differencesbetween languagesbefore first language reading strategies and skills can be used efficientlyin a second languagecontext. Differences in the consistency or transparency of written languageare important.Compared to English, French is more transparent although Frenchit is not considered one of themost transparent languages. French has a shallower relationship between its orthographyand itsphonology than English. A hypothesis can be made that French-speakingchildren might beexpected to learn to read more quickly than English-speaking children oncereading instructionhas begun.Furthermore, French is a syllable-timed language whereas English isstressed-timed.French speakers rely more often on a syllabic routine whereas Englishspeakers rely onphonemic routines for segmentation (Cutler, Mehier, Norris,& Segui, 1986). If syllable is themost salient unit in processing spoken French, then a second hypothesis canbe formulated thatsyllable awareness may be the best predictor of early reading skills for French-speakingchildren.30These orthographic differences, known respectivelyas orthographic depth hypothesis and scriptdependent hypothesis, will be explored in more detailin the following section.The degree of similarity between first language and secondlanguage phonology andorthography may affect the reading acquisition process(Geva & Siegel, 2000; Geva & WadeWoolley, 1998). The first specific feature relatesto orthographic differences between thelearners’ first and second language and is referredto as the orthographic depth hypothesis.According to the orthographic depth hypothesis,a language with a transparentrelationship between its orthography and its phonologyis said to be shallow, while a languagewith an opaque relationship is considered tobe deep. For example, although the FrenchandEnglish languages are both alphabetic, their orthographiesare quite different. It is necessarytoconsider them when comparing the relationship betweenphonological processes and readinginFrench immersion.The French system is somewhat inconsistentwith many silent letters, especially in wordfinal position. It also has some syntactic marksthat have no correspondence in speech.English ischaracterized as a quasi-regular orthography with theregularity at the level of the onset rime(Content, 1991). In English, both word regularity andfrequency influence reading performance.In French, the data showed word regularity and frequencyeffects. However, because the roles ofthe lexical and non-lexical routes are different,word regularity has a strong influence onreadingperformance in French while word frequencyhas a much smaller influence on readingperformance (Ziegler, Perry, & Coltheart,2003). English is considered to havea deeporthography. French is more transparent withan intermediate orthography. Thus, French-speaking children might be expected to learnto read more quickly than English-speakingchildren once reading instruction has begun.31Additional factors such as the phonological and syllabic structure of the spoken languageand the linguistic complexity, e.g. saliency and complexity of word structures differ as well(Carroll, 2004). The script dependent hypothesis claims that language ability is influenced by alanguage’s orthographic structure and the predictability of the correspondence betweengraphemes and phonemes (Liberman et aL, 1974). For example, English is considered a stress-timed language while French is a syllable-timed language. These differences may affect theorganization of phonological representations of words and the size of the unit that is the mostsalient for reading acquisition. French speakers rely on a syllabic routine whereas Englishspeakers on a phonemic routine for segmentation (Cutler et al., 1986). Nevertheless French has anumber of silent letters (e.g., acide, drap, ni4 etc.). If syllable is the most salient unit inprocessing spoken French, then syllable awareness may be the best predictor of early readingskills for French-speaking children.2.2.1.3 The Role of Phonological Awareness in ReadingFor the past thirty years a number of studies have established the relationship betweenphonological awareness and the ability to read. Studies into this phonological relationship usedEnglish as a first language learners (Adams, 1990; Bowey, 1994b; Bryant, MacLean, & Bradley,1990a; Naslund & Schneider, 1996; Siegel & Ryan, 1988; Snowling, 1981; Stuart & Masterson,1992; Swan & Goswami, 1997; Wagner, Torgesen, Rashotte, Hecht, Barker, Burgess, Donahue,& Garon, 1997) and French as a first language learners (Demont & Gombert, 1996; Gaux, 1996;Gaux & Gombert, 1999b; Gombert, 1992). There are fewer studies examining this relationship ina second language context (Armand, 2000; Chiappe & Siegel, 1999; Cisero & Royer, 1995; DaFontura & Siegel, 1995; Durgunolu et al., 1993; Gottardo et al., 2001; Lafrance & Gottardo,2005; Perragaux, 1994). To date, a small number of studies have been conducted in the contextof the French immersion programme (Bournot-Trites & Denizot, 2005b; Bruck & Genesee,321995; Bruck et aL, 1997; Comeau et al., 1999; Genesee,1979; Rubin & Turner, 1989; Tingleyetal., 2004).Phonological awareness has been shownto be a good predictor of word decoding andreading in first language as wellas in second language. A number of studiesin English as a firstlanguage have shown a strong relationshipbetween phonological awarenessand the ability tomanipulate those sounds when learning to read (Adams,1990; Blachman, 1994; Bradley&Bryant, 1983b; Juel, 1988; Schatschneider,Fletcher, Francis, Carlson, & Foorman,2004;Stanovich, 1986, 1988; Wagner & Torgesen,1987). Developmental and correlational researchhas indicated that a strong and reliable correlationexists between levels of phonologicalawareness and word reading achievementamong first language English speaking readers(Bradley & Bryant, 1983a; Bryant et al., 1990a; Calfee,Lindamood, & Lindamood, 1973;Juel etal., 1986; Perfetti, 1985; Perfettiet al., 1987; Share & Stanovich, 1995; Stanovich& Siegel,1994), and among readers of other alphabeticfirst languages such as Spanish (Alegria,Pignot, &Morais, 1982), Italian (Casalis & Louis-Alexandre,2000), and Swedish (Lundberg,Frost, &Peterson, 1988).Additional evidence comes from several studiesthat have identified readers who lack thislinguistic insight as being more likely tobe among the poorest readers (Byrne& FieldingBamsley, 1993; Iversen & Tunmer, 1993;Juel, 1988; Mann, 1993; Share, Jorm, Maclean,&Matthews, 1984; Stanovich et al., 1984; Torgesen &Burgess, 1998; Vellutino& Scanlon, 1987;Wagner, Torgesen, & Rashotte, 1994; Wagneret al., 1997). In particular, Stuart and Masterson(1992) tested 20 pre-school English-speaking studentsover six years using six phonologicaltasks of rhyme and phoneme awarenessas well as IQ scores, single word reading,spelling andvocabulary tasks. Participants’ scores on phonologicalawareness tasks as four-year oldprereaders predicted their word reading six yearslater at age 10. However, Stuart andMasterson33(1992) showed that poor phonological awareness at four to six years of age is predictive of wordreading difficulties throughout the elementary school years.The Stuart and Masterson (1992) results appear to indicate that individuals who havedifficulties in reading have a lower phonological awareness than the good readers regardless ofage (Pratt & Brady, 1988; Shaywitz, 1996). Based on these findings, intervention studies(Castiglioni-Spalten & Ebri, 2003; Ehri, Nunes, Stahl, & Willows, 2001; Elbro & Petersen,2004) at the Kindergarten and Grade 1 level have demonstrated the efficacy of instruction inphonological awareness and phonics on word reading acquisition. Participants who had beenidentified as ‘at-risk’ for future reading difficulties from their low performance on phonologicalawareness measures improved with phonological awareness and phonics instruction.A growing body of research has shown that phonological awareness predicts wordreading in second language English for readers whose first language is alphabetic (Chiappe &Siegel, 1999; Cisero & Royer, 1995; Da Fontura & Siegel, 1995; Durgunoglu et al., 1993;Gottardo et al., 2001; Perragaux, 1994) or non-alphabetic (Abu-Rabia & Siegel, 2002; Chiappe& Siegel, 1999; Chiappe et al., 2002a; Chiappe et al., 2002b). Available research indicates thatphonological skill deficits are a common attribute of weak readers (Da Fontura & Siegel, 1995).Yet, little is known about early reading processes in immersion situations because fewstudies have been conducted in bilingual contexts on phonological awareness and early reading.A small number of studies have examined reading processes in French immersion contexts(Bournot-Trites & Denizot, 2005b; Bnick & Genesee, 1995; Bruck et al., 1997; Comeau et al.,1999; Cormier & Kelson, 2000; Lafrance & Gottardo, 2005; Rubin & Turner, 1989; Tingleyetal., 2004).In French immersion progranmies students learn to read and write in French beginning inKindergarten. When French immersion begins in Kindergarten and continues into first grade it34involves teaching individuals to read only in the language that they are acquiring. Readingandwriting in their familiar mother tongue are introduced only later (Kendall, Lajeunesse,Chmilar,Shapson, & Shapson, 1987).“Students attending an immersion curriculum provide a unique opportunityto observeinteractions between two languages while they are being learned andallows one todetermine whether similar cognitive processes underlie word decoding andreadingcomprehension skills in both languages.” (Anderson, 2004,p.186)Studies in the French immersion context found that phonological awarenesspredictedword reading (Boumot-Trites & Denizot, 2005b; Bruck& Genesee, 1995; Bruck et al., 1997;Comeau et al., 1999; Cormier & Kelson, 2000; Lafrance& Gottardo, 2005; Rubin & Turner,1989; Tingley et al., 2004). These studies could not agree on whetherphonemic or syllabicawareness was a better predictor of word reading in English or in French.The first study undertaken about the importance of phonologicalawareness in Frenchimmersion was by Rubin and Turner (1989). Rubin and Turner werethe first to comparephonological awareness of 16 English-speakingGrade 1 students in English programs to 16English-speaking Grade 1 students in French immersion programsin Ontario. All participantswere from monolingual English homes. The linguistic task was assessedusing a modifiedversion of the Auditory Analysis test (Rosner, 1972).The modification consisted in &lding moreitems for syllable analysis and by eliminating the more difficultitem for phoneme analysis.Participants were given a spelling and a word-readingtask. All the tasks were in English. Resultsindicated that French immersion students were more proficientat explicitly analyzing spokenwords and deleting a syllable or a phoneme correctly. The question unansweredwas whetherphonemic or syllabic task better predicted English word reading of Frenchimmersion students.Bruck and Genesee (1995) were concerned that the conclusionsreached in the study ofRubin and Turner (1989) were too broad. Rubin and Turner (1989) didnot control for otherfactors such as intelligence and socioeconomic status that could be responsiblefor these results.35Thus, Bruck and Genesee (1995) replicatedthe study in the province of Quebecwith 72 Englishmonolingual students and 91 bilingualFrench-English students in Kindergartenover a period of3 years. However, when the individuals wereretested in Grade 1, there were 60Englishmonolingual and 77 bilingual participants.Bruck and Genesee (1995)controlled for readingexperience and cognitive and linguisticskills. Measures in English includedthree phonologicalawareness, three syllable awareness andfour onset-rime awareness tasks.Bruck and Genesee (1995) found differentpatterns of relationship betweenphonologicalawareness and word reading. Kindergartenstudents in French immersion programmeshad anadvantage over English monolingualstudents on onset-rime awareness.This advantagedisappeared in Grade 1. In first gradethe phoneme awareness tasks predictedword reading forEnglish monolingual participantsbut the syllable awareness taskspredicted English wordreading for the bilingual participants.Results of the Bruck and Genesee’s (1995) study suggestedthat English does not havea one-to-one relation between graphemesand phonemes. Words arenot always pronounced as they are spelledin English and there are manyirregularities within thelanguage structure itself. Frenchspeakers rely more on a syllabic routinewhereas Englishspeakers on a phonemic routine forsegmentation (Cutler et al., 1986).Results of the Bruck etGenesee (1995) study also indicateda possible advantage for English-speakingparticipants inphoneme awareness. Monolingual participantswere provided phonological training,which mayhave affected differences in readinginstruction.Bruck and Genesee’s (1995) findingsare not consistent with those ofRubin and Turner(1989) who reported advantagesin phonological awareness only fortheir Grade 1 bilingualparticipants without distinguishingbetween syllable or phoneme advantage.Examining theBruck and Genesee’s (1995) studyin isolation it can be argued that for Frenchimmersionstudents the best predictor of wordreading in English is syllabic tasksand not phonemic tasks.36However, the language in which students learnto read may influence which variable,phoneme or syllable awareness is the bestpredictor of word reading. In Canada, Brucket al.(1997) explored the idea further. They examined earlyliteracy in 94 French- and 105 English-speaking monolingual students in Kindergarten and firstgrade over a period of 3 years in theprovince of Quebec. When students were retested inGrade 1 there were 90 English and85French participants remaining. In addition,18 bilingual English- and 19 bilingualFrench-speaking participants (selected from thesame school) were given the samebattery test in theirnonnative language (French). Participantswere administered in Kindergarten and Grade1phonological awareness tasks (comprisingof separate syllable, onset-rimeand phoneme sub-tasks) and a letter knowledge task. In Grade1, a word recognition - all itemswere high-frequency words in English (Kucera& Francis, 1967) and French (Baudot, 1992)- and non-wordreading tasks were added.Results in the Bruck et al.’s study (1997)showed that phonological awarenesshad aninfluence on early reading acquisitionfor both English and French monolingualand bilingualparticipants. However, the authors also foundthat what predicted reading success(words andnon-words) differed for each language dependingon the phonological awareness taskand thelanguage in which it was administered. Brucket al. (1997) found that phonemic taskspredictedletter knowledge success in Kindergartenfor Anglophone unilingual participantsand syllabictasks for Francophone participants. In Grade1, onset-rime measures predicted wordand non-word reading success for the monolingualEnglish participants. Syllabic taskspredicted word andnon-word reading for the monolingual Frenchparticipants. For French immersion participants,syllabic tasks predicted word readingin Grade 1, regardless of language of test,whereasphonemic awareness tasks predicted wordreading in Kindergarten.Bruck et al. (1997) interpretedthe results as suggested by the scriptdependent37hypothesis. As mentioned earlier in section 2.2.1.2, the script dependent hypothesis states thatFrench and English differ structurally in that the syllable plays a greater role in French. Frenchhas a greater number of multisyllabic words than English in the lexicon ofbeginning readers.For Anglophones learning to read in French, the fact that the syllable is more salientin Frenchthan in English could explain the shift from phonemic awareness to syllabication in thestudy byBruck et al. (1997). According to the Bruck et al.’s research, the language in whichstudentslearn to read influences the phonological awareness tasks that predict reading. However,theseresults were contrary to the study conducted in a francophone educationalsetting (Demont &Gombert, 1996).The Demont and Gombert (1996) study tested 23 Kindergarten monolingualstudents inFrance over a period of four years on phonological awareness and syntacticawareness tasks andtwo reading tasks (recoding abilities and reading comprehension). The studyshowed thatphonemes and not syllables predicted moderately reading words in Kindergartenand Grade 1.The discrepancy between the Bruck et al. (1997) and Demont and Gombert(1996) studies mightbe explained by the method of reading instruction. Phonics instruction could resultin a greaterawareness for phonemic tasks than syllabic tasks. There could also be an interactionbetweenfirst language and method of reading instruction. Although the Bruck et al. (1997)studyconfinned the predictive role of phonological awareness on early word reading abilities,resultswere still contradictory concerning the role of phonemes or syllablesas best phonologicalpredictor of early word reading in French.Subsequent studies in French immersion showed that phonemic awareness predictedword reading (Boumot-Trites & Denizot, 2005a; Comeau et al., 1999; Cormier& Kelson, 2000;Tingley et al., 2004). In a more recent study, Tingley et al. (2004) examinedthe developmentpattern of phonological awareness in French immersion students in Nova Scotia.Tingley et al.38(2004) extended the work of Bruck and Genesee (1995) on the effects of second languageacquisition on phonological awareness. Tingley et al. (2004) compared 19 English-speakingKindergarten and 17 Grade 1 students going to Anglophone schools with17 Kindergarten and i9Grade 1 students of French immersion school. The Tingley et a!.’ s studyinvestigated syllable,onset-rime and phoneme awareness skills in English and in French.Tingley et al.’s (2004) three way mixed ANOVAs results revealedseveral effects andinteractions. In terms of grade effect, Grade 1 participants performedsignificantly better thanprimary participants on phoneme and onset-rime tasks. All participantsperformed better onEnglish tasks than on French ones. Tingley et al. (2004) also found throughposthoc analyses thatFrench immersion participants performed better on English phonemeand syllable tasks than onFrench tasks. English participants performed better than French immersionstudents on Frenchsyllabic tasks. Further correlational analyses revealed significantrelationships between reading(real and non words) and the phoneme awareness task regardless ofprogramme of instruction(English, French immersion) or language of readingtest (English, French). However, syllableawareness was only significantly correlated (r= .35) with the French non-word reading task forthe French immersion students.The Tingley et a!. (2004) results were similar to Brueket al.’s (1997) for the comparisonbetween monolingual Anglophone and Francophone students. However,it varied from the Bruckand Genesee (1995) study for the predictors of word reading. Theirresults did not support thehypothesis that participants would perform superiorlyon those phonological tasks whichcontained the salient features oftheir languageof instruction: that is syllable for Frenchimmersion students. The reason may be two fold. First, accordingto Tingley et al. (2004), theFrench phonological stimuli task in their study did notcorrespond to the typical syllabic structureof the language.39The words followed a CVC3or CCVC English structure ratherthan CV or CCV French structure(Cutler et al., 1986; Sprenger-Charolles & Siegel, 1997).“The French immersion students’ knowledge of the Frenchlanguage may have interferedwith their performance on French stimuli tasks. Thus, sinceFrench immersion studentswere more proficient in the English language, it would followthat these students wouldperform better on the Englisb syllable task.” (Tingleyet äl., 2004,p.281)Secondly, as Nova Scotia is an English unilingual province, studentswould have limitedexposure to the French language, contrary to studentsin the province of Quebec.Additional evidence comes from a study predicting risk fordifficulties in reading in Frenchand English in French immersion students in British Columbia by Bournot-Tritesand Denizot(2005a). The study involved 102 Kindergarten and 137Grade 1 French immersion students and84 Kindergarten and 134 Grade 1 English monolingual students. Theyexamined whether thesame kind of predictor measures in English and French woulddifferentiate French immersionKindergarten and Grade 1 participants who were considered‘at-risk’ for reading difficulty.TheEnglish and French tasks were similar. The tasks in Kindergarten includednon-word reading,initial and final of phoneme deletion, rime recognitionand letter identification. In Grade 1,phoneme substitution, initial and final syllable deletion, verbal workingmemory (sentences),-word attack and word reading tasks were added.Results from regression analyses showed that the phonemictask (initial phoneme deletion)in English in Kindergarten explained 28 % of the varianceof word reading ability in English in-Grade 1 for French immersion students. Similarly, results showedthat the phonemic task (initialphoneme deletion) in English in Kindergartenexplained 25 % of the variance of word readingability in French in Grade 1 for French immersion students. Resultsfrom regression analysesal-so showed that the phonemic task (initial phonemedeletion) in French in KindergartenCVC stands for consonant-vowel-consonant; CCVC for consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant;CV forconsonant-vowel; and CCV for consonant-consonant-vowel.40explained 23 % of the variance of word reading ability in French for Grade1 French immersionstudents. The Boumot-Trites and Denizot (2005a) study also foundthat the French immersionstudents in Kindergarten and (3rade 1 scored significantly higher than Englishprogrammeparticipants on both English reading tests and English tests of phonologicalawareness and verbalworking (sentence repetitions). Results also showed a significant relation inthat Frenchimmersion participants identified as being ‘at risk’ on Frenchtasks were also identified as being‘at risk’ on the English tasks: in Kindergartenx2(1, n = 102) 29.l5,p < .001, and in Grade 1x2(1, n = 102)=24.55,p <.001.Bournot-Trites and Denizot (2005a) also examined the predictors of word reading,readingcomprehension and spelling in a cross-sectional study in 179Grade 1, 165 Grade 2, 137 Grade 3and 141 Grade 4 French immersion students. Measures in French includedphonologicalawareness tasks, verbal working memory (measured by sentencerepetition), spelling (FrenchImmersion Achievement Test) (Wormeli & Ardanaz, 1987), wordreading (French ImmersionAchievement Test) (Wormeli & Ardanaz, 1987) and readingcomprehension (Curriculum BasedAssessment and French Immersion Achievement Test) (Wormeli& Ardanaz, 1987).Phonological awareness tasks included in Grade 1, initial and finalphoneme deletion and initialand final syllable deletion. In Grade 2 they included middlephoneme deletion and phonemepermutation. In Grades 3 and 4, the phonological awareness taskcombined phoneme andsyllable deletion.Results from regression analyses showed that in Grade 1, phonemicawareness as measuredby initial phoneme deletion and fmal phoneme deletion accounted respectivelyfor 23 % and 3%of the variance of Grade 1 word reading in French. In Grade2, phonemic awareness as measuredby middle phoneme deletion and phoneme permutation accounted respectivelyfor 27 % and 8%of the variance of Grade 2 word reading in French. However,phonemic awareness as measured41by middle phoneme deletion explained only a small percentage (4%) of the variance of Grade 2reading comprehension in French measured by Curriculum Based Assessment. In Grades3 and4, the combined phoneme and syllable deletion task accounted respectively for 10%and 15% ofthe variance of Grades 3 and 4 word reading. However, the combined phoneme andsyllabledeletion task accounted only for 7% of the variance of reading comprehensionas measured bythe French Immersion Achievement Test (Wormeli & Ardanaz, 1987) in Grade3 and 12% inGrade 4. Thus, phonemic awareness tasks predicted word reading and readingcomprehension upto Grade 2. In Grades 3 and 4, as the phonemic and syllabic tasks were combined,no conclusiveresults could be reached on whether phonemic or syllabic tasks predicted word readingandreading comprehension.Comeau et al. (1999) studied cross-linguistic effects for a group of Frenchimmersionstudents with mixed English-only and English-French backgrounds. The Comeauet al. (1999)study investigated the cross-language transfer of phonological awareness as wellas the role oflexical access and verbal working memory in word reading in French immersionstudents. The122 participants were tested in English and French in Grades 1,3, and 5 in New Brunswick. Thestudy was conducted over a calendar year. Participants were administeredmeasures of worddecoding and phonological awareness in French and English. Measures ofcognitive abilities (atest of nonverbal intelligence), lexical access (naming speed), verbal workingmemory andpseudoword repetition were administered in English only. Therelationship of phonologicalawareness in French to reading in each of the languages was equivalent tothat in English. Thestudy indicated that phonological awareness in both languages predicted one-yearincrementdecoding skills in French. These findings supported the transfer of phonologicalawareness skillsacross alphabetic languages (Cisero & Royer, 1995; Durgunogluet al., 1993).42Cormier and Kelson (2000) extended the study of Comeau et al. (1999)with 103 studentsin Grades 1 to 3 in French Immersion in New Brunswick. Because thisstudy was an extension ofComeau et al.’s (1999), the majority of the tests selected were taken fromthat study. Cormierand Kelson (2000) found that phonological awarenessis equivalently related to word decoding ineither language. However, for the French phonological task, Comeauet al. (1999) and Cormierand Kelson (2000) used a test developed by Cormier, MacDonald,Grandmaison and OuelletteLebel (1995). This test was adapted from Rosner and Simon (1971)and combined bothphonemic and syllabic segmentation items simultaneously.The Cormier and Kelson (2000)study reinforced the hypothesis of phonological awarenessbeing a strong predictor of Frenchword reading but did not say whether syllabic or phonemic taskspredicted word reading.Similarly, Lafrance and Gottardo (2005) in an eightmonth longitudinal study ofFrench/English bilingual students in French languageschools in Ontario examined therelationship between phonological processing skillsand word reading in both French (Li)andEnglish (L2). Forty Kindergarten students were administeredmeasures of phonologicalawareness, working memory, naming speed, and word reading inboth languages. The results ofmultiple regression analyses showed that phonologicalawareness skills in both French andEnglish predicted word reading performance inboth languages. Test results did not vary evenafter accounting for the influences of cognitive ability,working memory and naming speed.These findings support the hypothesis that phonological awarenessis strongly related tobeginning word reading. The Lafrance and Gottardo (2005) studyused a composite score forphonemic and syllabic items in accordance withComeau et a!. (1999). It is therefore difficult topredict if phonemic tasks or syllabic tasks were better predictorsof French word reading usingthe results of these studies.43However, intervention studies in Kindergarten and Grade 1 showedthe efficiency oflearning to read words by concentrating on phonological awareness andphonemes. Participantswho were identified as ‘at-risk’ in reading accordingto the results on phonological tasksimproved due to a teaching based on phonological ability (Castiglioni-Spalten& Ehri, 2003; Ehriet al., 2001; Elbro & Petersen, 2004; Lundberg et al., 1988). In French immersion,BournotTrites (2005) examined in Grade 1 the effect of phonemic instructionon word reading in French.This study was conducted in six French immersion schools in BritishColumbia. There were 53French immersion students in the experimental groupand 47 French immersion students in thecontrol group. The intervention group received systematic and explicitinstruction in phonemicawareness and letter-sound and grapheme correspondence througha multi-sensory phonemicinstruction La methodephonique (Moizan & Lloyd, 2001). Each phonemewas associated with astory, a gesture, a picture, a grapheme, a variety of games, and activities.The instruction wascomplemented with literacy activities such as readingstories. In the control group the instructionmethod was more eclectic and with no systematic teaching of anysort. Pre-tests and post-testsmeasures consisted of letter naming and sounding,phonemic tasks, syllabic tasks, a writing task(10 simple words), an oral comprehension task and word readingtasks (monosyllabic anddisyllabic words and nonwords). The Bournot-Trites(2005) study showed that the experimentalgroup did significantly better on word reading than the controlgroup. Thus, a systematicinstruction of French phonological skillscombined with literacy teaching seems to be aneffective method for teaching reading in Grade 1 French immersion.There is an apparent inconsistency in the phonologicalliterature. Sometimes syllabicawareness is a better predictor of performance inword reading in French as a second languagethan phonemic awareness. Sometimes it is the otherway around, and sometimes they areindistinguishable. In nay case, phonological instruction might resultin better word reading in44French in early years. However,phonological awareness was nota predictor of a large amount ofvariance in reading comprehensionin English first language (NationalReading Panel, 2000),French first language in France (Demont,2001; Demont & Gombert, 1996;Gombert, 1992), orFrench second language in Canadain French immersion (Bournot-Trites& Denizot, 2005b).Demont and Gombert (1996) tested23 Kindergarten monolingual studentsin France overa period of 4 years on phonological awareness,syntactic awareness and tworeading tasks(recoding abilities and reading comprehension).Phonological awareness wasmeasured byphonemic and syllabic task. Syntacticawareness was measuredby lexical segmentation ofsentences (counting and pronouncingwords in sentences), grammaticaljudgment (judging thegrammaticality of sentences witha morphemic anomaly4)and grammaticalcorrection ofasemantic and agranimatical sentence5.Forthe reading comprehensiontask, participants wereadministered the Khomsi’s comprehension test (1990). Fixed-ordermultiple regressions wereused in order to rule out for extraneous variables(abilities of non-verbal intelligence,IQ andvocabulary). Results showedthat participant’s phonological awarenesspredicted word readingbut syntactic awareness predictedreading comprehension. In the Bournot-Tritesand Denizot(2005b) study in French immersion conductedin British Columbia, theauthors found that verbalworking memory predicted readingcomprehension as measured byFrench ImmersionAchievement Test (Wormeli& Ardanaz, 1987) in Grade 3 (accountingfor 21% of the variance)and in Grade 4 (accounting for 15% of thevariance). Other factors suchas lack of morphologicalawareness or vocabulary may also beat work for reading comprehension,but these were nottested in the Bournot-Trites and Denizot(2005b) study.A morphemic anomaly is measured by pronoun gender(Elodie met sa manteau — a masculine pronounisobligatory in French before a masculinenoun — son).An asemantic and agrammatical sentence is defmedby the noun gender used (Blanche-Neige est une soreicr[Snow white is a witch] — the correct form shouldbe the feminine form — sorcière), thoughwithout correcting thesemantics ‘sorciêre’ [witch] to ‘fee’[wizardl.45The research listed indicates that in first (English and otherlanguages) and secondlanguage (English and other languages) other variables predict word readingandlor readingcomprehension: (a) spelling (Lesaux, Rupp, & Siegel,2007; Stanovich, West, & Cunningham,1991), (b) verbal working memory (Cain, Oakhill,& Bryant, 2000, 2004a; Gottardo et al., 1996;Lesaux, Lipka, & Siegel, 2006), (c) vocabulary (Ben-Zeev, 1977; Bialystok& Herman, 1999;Hsueh-Chao & Nation, 2000), (d) syntactic awareness(Cain, 2007; Geva, 2000; Gottardo et al.,2001; Muter, Hulme, Snowling, & Stevenson, 2004; Oakhill, Cain,& Bryant, 2003),(e) morphological awareness (Abu-Rabia, Share, & Mansour, 2003; Bindman,2004; Casalis &Louis-Alexandre, 2000; Deacon, Wade-Woolley,& Kirby, 2007; Deacon & Kirby, 2004; Droop& Verhoeven, 1998b; Mahony, Singson, & Maim, 2000; McBride-Chang,Cho, Liu, Wagner,Shu, Zhou, Cheuk, & Muse, 2005; McBride-Chang,Shu, Zhou, Wat, & Wagner, 2003; Plaza&Cohen, 2003; Wang, Cheng, & Chen, 2006), and (f)second language cultural knowledge(Campbell, 1981; Carrell, 1983c; Droop & Verhoeven,1998a; Floyd & Carrell, 1987; Hudson,1982; Jiménez, Garcia, & Pearson, 1995, 1996; Johnson, 1982; Lee,1986a; Wang et al., 2006).These variables will be examined in the sections 2.2.2to 2.2.6 following in relation to wordreading and reading comprehension.2.2.2 SpellingSpelling captures how words are correctly written. Spellingcan be measured throughword dictation or spelling production. Spelling is differentthan orthographic knowledge.Orthographic knowledge mainly captures how lettersare put together within orthography.Orthographic knowledge includes:(a) recognizing letter-sound relationships, (b) knowingwhichletter patterns are acceptable, and (c) understandingsound, syllable, and word positionconstraints on spelling patterns (Wascowitz, Apel, Masterson,& Withney, 2004).46The most widely accepted theory of spelling development in alphabeticscripts is that ofstage theories (Ehri, 1986; Henderson, 1985). As summarized by Treimanand Bourassa (2000):“According to these theories, children begin knowledgeof phonology to spell words.During later stages, additional sources of information comeinto play, includingknowledge of orthographic patterns and morphologicalrelationships. These latter typesof knowledge are said to be unavailable to beginning spellers.(...)It may be moreaccurate to depict spelling development as consistingof the predominant use of aparticular process or strategy at different points intime, but no to the complete exclusionof others.” (p. 2)As children begin to grasp the alphabetic principle, theirspelling reflects attempts tosymbolize the linguistic structure of the spoken language.Children gradually acquirea moresophisticated knowledge of the spelling system, “internalizingthe classifications of sounds thatare embodied in the conventional writingsystem” (Treiman & Bourassa, 2000,p.16). Children’sknowledge of orthographic patterns and morphologicalinformation improves as spellingsophistication increases.Evidence has also been presented that childrenoften produce spelling patterns that arenot consistent within a proposed stage ofdevelopment. The problem of stage theoriesmay be aresult of the failure of such theories to takeinto account the complexity of phonological,orthographic and morphological awarenessas they relate to spelling development. Thisisparticularly important in the Frenchimmersion context.For Canadian French immersion students, the Frenchand the English language areencoded on several levels in the orthography: phonological,morphological, and orthographic(Deacon et al., 2006). In both French and Englisha word is spelled on the basis of sound. BothFrench and English spelling of a word is in partdetermined by the word’s root and a suffixwhere applicable. Both French and Englishshow contrastive and language-specific orthographiccharacteristics:“In English, for example double consonants at theend of words (pull) but not at thebeginning of the word (e.g.,full but notfful) as wellas double vowels (book). French47words cannot end with consonant doubles (e.g., pommebut not pomm for the word applein French). Like morphological regularities, these patterns helpto explain why spelling inboth English and French do not always accord with phoneticencodings.” (Deacon et al.,2006,p.2)Research indicates that orthographic knowledgepredicts word reading and spelling inEnglish first language (Stanovich et aL, 1991),and in the French immersion context(Davydovskaia, Goetry, & Wade-Woolley, 2004; Deaconet al., 2006). Research has alsoshown that spelling predicts reading comprehensionin English as a second language (Lesauxetal., 2007).In Australia, Stanovich, West and Cunningham (1991)investigated the relationshipbetween phonological awareness, spelling ability,orthographic knowledge, reading (printexposure) and reading comprehension achievementin 129 Grade 6 monolingual students.Spelling was measured by the sub-test of theWide Range Achievement Test (WRAT3)(Wilkinson, 1993). Orthographic knowledgewas measured using two tasks: a letter-stringchoicetask and targeted words containing a letter name withinthe word or a vowel as an example.TheTitle Recognition Test (TRT) developed by Cunninghamand Stanovich (1990) was used as ameasure to assess the reading activity of participants(print exposure). The TRT consistedofthirty-nine book titles: twenty-five genuinetitles and fourteen foil book titles. The twenty-fivegenuine titles were chosen to explore out-of-school readingrather than school-directedexperiences. Reading comprehension wasassessed using The Progressive AchievementTest inReading from the Australian Council of EducationalResearch (1986). The readingcomprehension test was administeredto students to measure skill in factual, inferentialcomprehension and interpretation of prose materialusing multiple-choice questions. Resultsfrom multiple regression analyses showedthat orthographic knowledge accountedfor uniquevariance in word reading (print exposure)and spelling once phonological processingskills hadbeen accounted for in the analysis of variance.48Second language readers must find ways to separate theorthographic knowledge theyacquire in two languages in order to build language-specific representations.Davydovskaia et al.(2004) tested 132 Grade 3 French immersion studentsin Ontario. Testing was designed toidentify orthographic differentiation and its relation toword reading and spelling in English andFrench. Testing measures included spelling in Englishand French, nonverbal intelligence,phonological awareness (phoneme deletion and blending),speed of lexical access (RAN — RapidAutomated Naming), and expressive vocabulary (namea presented picture). Word reading wasmeasured in English through word identification andword attack of the Woodcock ReadingMastery Test- Revised (Woodcock, 1987). Readingin French was measured using wordreadingand pseudoword identification (Mousty, Leybaert, Alegria, Content,& Morais, 1994).The results indicated that ability in orthographicdifferentiation predicted readingandspelling in both first language (English) and second language(French) of the tested Frenchimmersion students. In addition, ability in orthographicdifferentiation explained unique variancein the word reading and spelling of French immersionGrade 3 students after controllingfor age,non-verbal intelligence, phonological awareness, speedof lexical access and expressivevocabulary. Better knowledge of language-specificorthographic patterns (e.g., zay for English,zé for French) was associated with better reading andspelling performances in both EnglishandFrench. French immersion Grade 3 students usedorthographic markers to select theappropriatephonological and orthographic representations inreading and spelling. It could be arguedthatinefficient separation of orthographic knowledgeacquired in two different languages mayhinderthe ability to read words.In a recent cross-language analysis, Deaconet a!. (2006) tested a group of 76 Grade 2students enrolled in a French immersion programme in Ontario.The study was designed todetermine the independent contributions of orthographicknowledge in English and French to49reading within and across languages. French word reading was assessedwith the FrenchImmersion Achievement Test (Wormeli & Ardanaz, 1987). The orthographictask involved therecognition of the correct spelling of words out of a pair of letter-sequences.Results from linearregression analyses showed that French orthographic knowledge contributedto 7% of thevariance in English reading and 14% in French word reading ability,independently ofmorphological and phonological awareness.The results from these studies indicate that orthographic knowledgeis important inreading words and contributes significantly to word reading. However,empirical evidence of thepredictive role of spelling in reading comprehensionin second language is still very limited(Lesaux et al., 2007), as no testing was undertaken inthe French immersion context.One recent study has examined the role of spellingin reading comprehension in Englishas a second language context. In a longitudinal study, Lesauxet al. (2007) investigated thereading development of 824 students in British Columbia.Six hundred eighty-nine of thosestudied were native speakers of English. Hundredthirty-five were non-native speakers of Englishrepresenting 33 different native languages. Participantswere assessed in Kindergarten and Grade4 on word reading, spelling, phonological processing,syntactic awareness (measured by oraldoze) and working memory skills. Reading comprehensionwas assessed only in Grade 4 usingshort passages and multiple-choice questions. The spellingtasks comprised both words (WRAT3) and pseudoword spelling. Results from descriptive analyses showedthat normative speakersof English performed on an individual level better onthe spelling of words compared to nativespeakers of English. Native speakers of English had a higherperformance on the spelling ofpseudowords than nonnative English speakers.“However, with respect to the effect of languagestatus (English as a first language orsecond language as a predictor to detect differences between languagegroups), whenpredicting reading comprehension in Grade 4, simplespelling was the only variable that50had a significant interaction with language status (Englishas a first and second language)to influence reading comprehension scores.” (Lesauxet al., 2007,p.828)In addition, results from hierarchical linear regressionsshowed that letter identification,working memory, and phonological awareness(rhyme detection and phoneme deletion)inKindergarten predicted fourth-grade word reading(Lesaux et al., 2007). Similarly, letteridentification, working memory, and oral doze in Grade4 were identified as significantpredictors of fourth-grade reading comprehension.The differential effect across the twolanguage groups for predicting reading comprehensionwas explained by the fact thatwords to bespelled in fourth grade become more phonologicallyand morphologically complex.Firstlanguage speakers scored higher than secondlanguage speakers in these areas.Orthographic knowledge has been shownto predict word reading in English asa firstlanguage and French as a second language inthe French immersion context. Spelling hasalsobeen shown to predict reading comprehension inEnglish as a second language. However,therole of French spelling in French readingcomprehension has not been addressed withinthecontext of French immersion in anystudies to date. Research in second languagehas identifiedverbal working memory as a cognitive processalso involved in reading comprehension.2.2.3 Verbal Working MemoryVerbal memory is an important distinguishingfactor in both word reading and readingcomprehension. Working memory refers to theretention of information in short-termstoragewhile processing incoming information andretrieving information from long-termstorage(Baddeley, 1983). Working memory involvesstoring and holding information whenreading forlater synthesis into sentences orwords (Alloway, Gathercole, Adams, Willis, Eaglen,& Lamont,2005; Baddeley, 1986, 2000; Wagner& Torgesen, 1987). Reading requires studentstosimultaneously process, retain and retrieveinformation.51“This processing environment is a major sourceof variation in reading abilities,and inparticular, a source of difference between skilledand less skilled readers.(...)Issues ofprocessing efficiency in working memoryalso implicate speed of lexical accessandproposition integration. As a consequence,reading processes need to be carriedout at areasonably rapid rate to ensure fluent reading.”(Grabe, 2000,p. 232)Fifty percent of all function words (prepositions,conjunctions, and articles) andseventy-five percent of all content words (nouns,verbs and adjectives) in a text areactually sampled byfluent readers (Just & Carpenter, 1987). Thepractice of relying heavily on the contextto extractmeaning from text is characteristic of the “weakerreaders who are over-compensatingbecausethey have inadequate word recognition skillsand lack automaticity in comprehensionprocessing” (Grabe, 2000,p.227). The more efficient the readers,the better they are at basicword decoding. This factor allows a top-downprocess to operate to the benefit ofefficientreaders. Efficient readers can relyon this process whenever neededto assist comprehension. Inthe case of less efficient readers,as may be the case of second language readers,weaker and lessautomatic decoding skills or vocabularyrecognition skills will force themto spend more effort inidentifying and comprehending words. Thiswill lead to a disabling cognitive overload(Alderson, 2000). Thus, the working memoryof the reader plays a crucial role in thisprocess.Therefore, the activity of reading ina second language places a considerable demandon theindividual’s working memory (Siegel, 2002).Previous research in secondlanguage has shown that poor word readershave moredifficulties on measures of verbal workingmemory (Chiappe et al., 2000;Comeau et al., 1999;Siegel & Ryan, 1989; Swanson, 1993, 1999).In a more recent large-scale study,Chiappe,Hasher and Siegel (2000) examinedthe relationship between working memoryand the wordreading ability of 665 individuals between6-49 years old. The listeningspan task (participantshad to supply a missing word ina sentence) was used to assess working memory.The readingsubtest of the Wide Range AchievementTest measured individuals’ abilityto read words in52isolation. The total sample included 351 skilled readersand 314 participants with readingdisabilities (scoring26thpercentile on the WRAT).Chiappe et al. (2000) found that at eachage, skilled readers had higher listeningspanscores than did disabled readers. Difficulties in workingmemory for disabled readers extendbeyond childhood into adulthood. Performanceon the working memory task generallyimproveduntil the age of 19 years but then declined intoadulthood. The decline in working memoryskillsassociated with age may result from “growinginefficiencies in inhibitory6control, andnotdiminished capacity” (p. 8). In other words,the decline may result from deficits in theinabilityto clear from working memory information that is irrelevantor information that is no longerrelevant.Jongejan, Verhoeven and Siegel (2007) emphasizedthat “completing a verbal workingmemory task in second language reading islikely to place additional demands on theworkingmemory of individuals” (p. 837). Therefore,it can be argued that a working memorytask in thesecond language for French immersionstudents, would act as a good predictorof word readingas the same task in English.Only a small number of studies in secondlanguage have investigated the role of workingmemory in word reading. In English secondlanguage studies with children, workingmemory, asmeasured by sound mimicry andmemory for sentences, contributed significantlyto wordreading and pseudoword reading skillsin second language (Gholamain & Geva, 1999; Lesauxeta!., 2006). However, in other studies workingmemory contributed significantly to wordreadingonly in first language and not in second language (Chiappeet al., 2002b; Da Fontura & Siegel,1995; Geva, Yaghoub-Zadeh, & Schuster, 2000;So & Siegel, 1997).6Inhibition may control in three ways the contentsor working memory: access, deletion and restraint(Hasher,Zacks, & May, 1999).53The authors explained this contradictory result by the factthat second language learnersmay experience a lack of fit between their native language phonologicalrepresentations and thephonological structure of the language they are learning(e.g., Portuguese, Hebrew or Chinese).Their short-term memory may be limited in the foreignlanguage due to difficulties in encodingadequate phonological representations. Research fmdingsremain inconclusive in determining theinfluence of working memory in word reading in secondlanguage speakers. However, empiricalevidence of the predictive role of working memory inreading comprehension of children in firstand second language, though more limited, appearsmore conclusive at this time.Deficits in working memory are an important factor in readingcomprehension success.Low score results seem linked to poor comprehension.Results from studies in first languagewith Anglophone Grades 3 to 5 students (Cain et a!.,2000, 2004a; Gottardo et al., 1996) andFrancophone Grade 3 students (Seigneuric& Ehrlich, 2005) have identified workingmemory asa direct predictor of reading comprehension when compared tovocabulary and decoding skills.Cain et al. (2004a) reported data from a longitudinal studythat addressed the relationshipbetween working memory capacity and reading comprehensionskills in students aged 8, 9, and11 years. At each age, the authors assessed student’sreading ability, vocabulary and verbalskills, performance on two working memoryassessments (sentence-span and digit workingmemory), and reading comprehension (inferencemaking, comprehension monitoring,storystructure knowledge). At each time point, workingmemory predicted unique variance in readingcomprehension. This was most evident in the inference-makingand comprehension monitoringcomponent skills after controlling for word readingability, vocabulary and verbal ability.Researchers commented that comprehension difficultiesrelate to an inability to make inferences,as individuals must retrieve, maintain, and manipulateinformation related to the text.Lesaux, Lipka and Siegel (2006) investigated the influenceof cognitive and linguistic54skills on reading comprehension within the English as second languagecontext A total of 489Grade 4 students were tested. Three hundred ninety-fiveof those studied were native speakers ofEnglish. Eighty-five were English second languagespeakers. All participants were part ofalongitudinal study that began in Kindergarten andsecond language participants were fromdiverse linguistic background. Kindergarten andGrade 4 measures included memory forsentences, phonological awareness and syntacticawareness (oral doze). Reading was onlyassessed in Grade 4. Word reading was assessedusing word and pseudoword reading (WRAT3). The reading comprehension task consisted ofreading short passages followed by multiple-choice questions.Participants were also classified in threecomprehension groups: “(1) children withpoorcomprehension in the absence of word reading difficulties(poor comprehenders), (2) childrenwith poor word reading and poor comprehension(poor word recognition and comprehenders),and (3) children with good word readingand comprehension abilities (good comprehenders)”(p. 99). The comprehension-level match design (Johnston, Barnes,& Desrochers, 2008) allowsfor testing more easily hypotheses aboutthe nature or the deficits specific to comprehensionwhere there is a particular interest in individuals whosereading comprehension difficulties arenot accompanied by problems in wordreading.“When good decoders/less skilled older comprehendersare matched to younger childrenfor reading comprehension skill (even word readingis better for the older group), poorerperformance by the good decoders/poor comprehenderson a candidate skill such asinference-making may represent an actual cognitivedeficit in comprehension as opposedtoa developmental delay in acquiring skills importantfor comprehension.” (Johnston et a!.,2008, p. 126)The comprehension-level matchdesign would then suggest that inference makingis causallyimplicated in reading comprehension becausepoor comprehenders but not younger skilledcomprehenders are deficient in this skill.Furthermore, results from the Lesauxet al. (2006) regression analyses showedthat55phonological awareness, syntactic awareness and working memoryfor sentences in Kindergartenand in Grade 4 significantly predicted variations in Grade4 reading comprehension. Within thegood and poor comprehender readers groups, English asa second language speakers performedat a significantly lower level on working memory for words thanthe first language speakers.Such fmdings would suggest that working memory in English asa second language reading iscausally implicated in reading comprehension. Poorcomprehenders in this case associated withEnglish as a second language speakers are deficient inthis skill.Bournot-Trites and Demzot (2005a) examined the role of phonologicalawareness,spelling and working memory in reading comprehensionin 137 Grade 3 students withintheFrench immersion context. Working memory was assessedwith a sentence repetition task.Reading comprehension in French, as measuredby a Curriculum Based Achievement test, wascomprised of comprehension questions after the readingof a narrative passage. Results fromregression analyses showed that working memorycontributed 3% of the variance in readingcomprehension. It may be that the task used tomeasure verbal working memory in secondlanguage lead to different results. Lesauxand Siegel (2003) found significant differences in theworking memory of English as a first andsecond language Kindergarten students. NativeEnglish speakers performed better on a sentence workingmemory task than non-native Englishspeakers.Verbal working memory has been found to relateto literacy abilities. It has not been fullydetermined how verbal working memory skill relates to readingcomprehension of secondlanguage learners, especially in the context ofFrench immersion. Other variables mayalsoinfluence second language reading and present a challengeto second language readers. Secondlanguage learners have themselves identified threeother variables, vocabulary, grammar, andcontent knowledge (which includes second languagecultural knowledge) as their most pressing56need to achieve a better comprehension of text (Laufer& Yano, 2001). Vocabulary andgrammatical form are part of Bemhardt’s (2005)compensatory model ofsecond languagereading second dimension. Content knowledgeis part of Bemhardt’s model third dimension(seesection 2.1.3.3).2.2.4 VocabularyIn Bernhardt’s (2005) compensatory modelofsecond language reading, one variableofthe second language knowledge dimensionthat could be important in readingcomprehension isvocabulary knowledge.Vocabulary is usually definedas the individual word or lexical level. Lexicalinformation(i.e., semantic information at the word level)is necessary to derive sentenceand discourseinterpretations. Measuresof vocabulary have been shown to be highlypredictive of performanceon tests of reading comprehension (Alderson,2000) and of reading comprehensionacross grades(Schatschneider, Harrell, & Buck, 2007).Vocabulary has been identified asthe mostcontributing factor to text comprehensionfor both first and second languagereaders (Laufer,1989, 2003). Laufer (2003) indicated thatin order to gain adequate comprehensionand be able toguess unknown words from content,readers need to know 95% of the words ina text. Whenstudents learn and read content suchas in Science and Social Studies texts in thecontext ofFrench immersion, it could be even more importantfor reading comprehension.Second language readers may face lexicalchallenges pertaining to the densityandcoverage of vocabulary. This is evenmore appropriate in the context of Frenchimmersioncontent area reading where learner variablesmight impact the readability ofcourse materials.These variables are often pre-selectedwith first language speakers in mind.A number of lexicalfeatures exist in second language that distinguishesfirst language reading ability. Thefeaturethat characterizes lexical challenges in secondlanguage reading is the short-circuithypothesis57(Clarke, 1980) or language threshold hypothesis (Clapham,1996).The short-circuit hypothesis (Clarke, 1980) relates toa threshold where vocabularybecomes insufficient for adequate comprehension. Thelanguage threshold hypothesis (Clapham,1996) maintains that there is a breaking point in secondlanguage - a threshold - beyond whichsecond language readers have to progress before theirfirst language reading abilities can transferto the second language situation. This general thresholdof proficiency (and very variable) in thesecond language must be attained in order forthe reader’s first language reading skillsto transferto reading in a second language. Researchhas shown that good first language readersoften failto transfer their skills and strategies to theirsecond language because of vocabularyunfamiliarity. Second language readers do not beginto read the second language, often English,with the same English knowledge availableto English-speaking readers. As Grabe(2002) pointsout for adult readers, “most first language readersbegin their instruction with at least6,000words already known in their language and witha firm tacit knowledge of most basicgrammatical structures of the language”(p. 55).If the learner is below the threshold, vocabularyknowledge is not sufficient for adequatecomprehension. If the learner is beyondthis threshold, then the learner knowsenoughvocabulary, other things beingequal, to gain adequate comprehension ofa text. This notion oflexical threshold is particularly importantfor reading in second languageas new and youngerand/or older readers in a second languagedo not possess the same level of vocabularyof youngerfirst language readers. The averagefirst language student learns about3,000 words per year inthe early school years (8 words perday) (Baumami, Kame’enui, & Ash, 2003; Graves,1986).Laufer and Yano (2001) point out that“vocabulary of foreign language learnerswho arehigh school graduates and even universitystudents does not amount to a quarterof thevocabulary known by their native speakingpeers” (p. 549). It can be assumed that itwill be even58less for Grade 3 students (9 years old) in French immersionprogrammes. In view of the variouslexical challenges discussed in this section, it would seemcrucial to support second languagereading, and in particular, second language vocabulary readingdevelopment in non-nativespeakers of French in the French immersionprogramme. This view appears to be confirmedbyempirical research in both first and secondlanguages.In first language English research on readabilityliterature, “ease of comprehension”(Harris & Hodges, 1995,p.203), a relationship between vocabularyand reading comprehensionis shown with mixed results. Some studies showed significantlyenhanced comprehension whentexts contained more high-frequency words(Wittock, Marks, & Doctorow, 1975). Somestudiesshowed modest effects when vocabulary was manipulatedto make texts more or less easiertoread (Freebody & Anderson, 1983a, 1983b;Stahl & Fairbanks, 1986). Other studiesshowed noimprovement as a function of vocabulary alterations(Nolte, 1937; Ryder & Hughes,1985). Onereason for these mixed-results has been put forwardin a more recent study by Hsueh-Chao andNation (2000).Hsueh-Chao and Nation (2000) showed that althoughthe knowledge of vocabularyconstitutes a key component to reading,researchers have suggested several modelsto describethe relationship between vocabulary knowledgeand reading comprehension. The factor involvedin these models relates to language knowledge (ofwhich vocabulary knowledge is) andknowledge of the world (cultural knowledge).“The instrumentalist view is contrasted to the aptitudeview (vocabulary knowledgeisone of many outcomes of having a goodbrain) and the knowledge view (vocabularyis anindicator of good world knowledge).(...)We cautioned against adopting aninstrumentalist view of vocabulary knowledgeas being a major prerequisiteandcausative factor in comprehension. (...)Having a large vocabulary and a goodcomprehension can also be seen as an indicatorof good world knowledge.(...)Differentrelationships exist at different stages ofvocabulary growth and skill development.”(Hsueh-Chao & Nation, 2000,pp.404-405)59Vocabulary knowledge is complex and takes into account thebreadth ofknowledge(number of words known), the depth ofknowledge (the amount of knowledgefor each word) andautomaticily (using a word quickly).In addition, studies of children with difficulties in reading comprehensionshow thatproblems in comprehension are associated with poor vocabulary skills(Catts, Adolf & EllisWeismer, 2006). In a study with students age 9 to 10 years, Cain, Oakhilland Lemmon (2004b)matched old good and poor comprehenders on the basis of word readingand vocabulary.Reading comprehension consisted of stories written each containinga made-up word with a novelmeaning, i.e., not a synonym of a known word. The researchers founddifferences in readingcomprehension and other comprehension-related skillssuch as inferencing in poorcomprehenders. Such results would suggest that vocabulary skills alonecouldn’t explain allcomprehension difficulties.However, second language English research with childrenhas been more conclusivewhen examining the level of vocabulary in reading comprehension.Pre-school bilingual childrenin English-Hebrew (Ben-Zeev, 1977) and English-French (Bialystok, 1988;Bialystok &Herman, 1999) have a smaller vocabulary than comparable monolingualspeakers of eachlanguage. These differences in vocabulary levelmay disadvantage bilinguals in early literacycompared to their monolingual peers and affect their readingcomprehension.Although vocabulary has been found to be predictiveof second language readingcomprehension, the nature of the relationship is complex. Secondlanguage readers may facelexical challenges pertaining to vocabulary in the text,both in terms of the number of wordsknown and the amount of knowledge for each word. They may experiencedifficulty whenreading a text and having to comprehend it. This difficulty would evenbe more applicable in the60context of French immersion content areareading. Vocabulary might impactthe readability ofcourse materials particularly when it relatesto specific concepts in science or social studies.The vocabulary threshold level has also beenused to explain why the literacy component(Bernhardt, 1991 b) also referred toas linguistic schema (the knowledgeabout grammaticalstructure of a text) is unable to compensatefor lack of linguistic proficiencyand worldknowledge (cultural knowledge ofthe target culture). World knowledgereferred to as contentschema (Carrell, 1 983b, 1 983c; Urquhart& Weir, 1998). Assuming that a thresholdexists, it isnot absolute and will vary with thedifficulty and language level ofa text as well as the reader’sprior knowledge and the situation context (Bemhardt& Kamil, 1995; Carrel! & Grabe,2002).The difficulty of a text at it relatesto morphological awareness (one aspectof ‘grammaticalform’ under the second language knowledgedimension in Bemhardt’s (2005) compensatolymodel ofsecond language reading),may be another important variable thatcould play a role inreading comprehension.2.2.5 Morphological AwarenessBeing aware of the morphology is“an individual’s conscious awarenessof themorphemic structure of wordsand their ability to reflect onand manipulate that structure”(Carlisle, 1995,p.194). Morphology specifies the form of wordsfor number or gender, andthose that convey information about tenseor modes (e.g., verbs). Morphemesare the smallestunits in a language that convey meaning.Morphemes are divided into twotypes: lexical andgrammatical morphemes. Lexical morphemesallow the words to havea meaning in themselves:for example nouns, adjectives andverbs. All have thereforea semantic function. Grammaticalmorphemes have a syntactic function.For example, articles, prepositionsand conjunctions. Allhave syntactic functions (Gombertet a!., 2000). Morphologically complex wordsare built from aroot, prefixes and suffixes. However,morphology is different from syntax.61Syntax pertains to the status of the word (e.g., noun, verb, adjective,article) and thesentence construction in a text (e.g., word order in a sentence) (Gombert, 1992). Syntacticawareness refers to the level of sensitivity to the grammatical structureof a language. Syntacticand morphological skills each address a separable form of grammaticalskills.Children usually know the basic morphological and syntactic structuresin their ownmother tongue before they even begin to read. However,the knowledge of understanding thebasic morphology and syntactic structures cannot possiblybe available to the same levels insecond language readers when compared to first language readers (Carrell& Grabe, 2002).Nation (2001) emphasizes that the construction ofa sentence, in syntactic terms, is in partdetermined by the choice of vocabulary, especially that ofverbs. Morphological and syntactictasks in second language are likely to be more challengingfor second language than firstlanguage learners, as these tasks require a certain degreeof language proficiency. In addition,syntactic awareness has been hypothesized to aid word recognition skillsby allowing the readerto use the syntactic constraints of a sentence to decodeunfamiliar words (Rego & Bryant, 1993).It is also thought to aid reading comprehension by facilitating sentence-and text-level integration(Tumner & Bowey, 1984).In the French immersion context, it might be expectedthat a higher level of bilingualismwould perhaps be necessary to let syntactic and morphological awarenessemerge as a predictorof word reading and reading comprehension. Frenchimmersion students who drop out of theprogramme have generally lower levels of phonologicalawareness which facilitates wordrecognition. In French first language, “children coulduse their syntactic knowledge in ordertoextenuate phonological analysis of mistakes when they readunfamiliar words” (Demont &Gombert, 1996,p.316). Results of these studies suggest that syntax couldaffect the acquisitionof word decoding skills and could be essential in wordrecognition by enhancing children’s62decoding skills. Phonological awareness might also favorably interferewith the detection ofgrammatical cues in sentence processing (Muter et al., 2004). This mightact to facilitate themonitoring of comprehension through the processes of text integrationwhen readers makemistakes in decoding.Morphological awareness plays a similar role in reading.“It is possible that morphological awareness is a language-specificskill, one that requiresexperience with a specific language and the ways in which it mapsonto that particularorthography in order to be used in reading that language. If this isthe case, thenmorphological awareness should make robust contributionsto reading within a singlelanguage that do not cross over from one language to another. 1f instead,morphologicalawareness is a broader conceptual meaning understanding — forexample, that words aremade up ofunits of meaning regardless of the specificlanguage- then there should beevidence of cross-linguistic transfer to reading, particularly acrossorthographies in whichmorphemes determine, at least in part, the ways in which languageis represented in thescript.” (Deacon et al., 2006,p.733)It can be argued that students of French immersion programmes whomight have lessdeveloped syntactic and morphological skills, could experience moredifficulty on textcomprehension in school subjects. They could drop out of theprogramme prematurely (Hogan &Harris, 2005).In Bemhardt’s (2005) compensatory model ofsecond language reading,the secondlanguage knowledge dimension ‘grammar form’ includeslinguistic features such as morphologyand syntax. In the empirical studies some authors usedmisnomers. Grammatical awareness,morphological awareness and syntactic awareness wereused interchangeably. Authorsoccasionally used only one task to assess what they calledsyntax and morphological knowledge.In addition, empirical evidence in second language researchis more extensive on the role ofsyntactic awareness than of morphological awarenessin reading. In the literature reviewfollowing, the role of syntactic awareness and morphological awarenessin first and secondlanguage word reading and reading comprehension willbe addressed separately. I will note inparenthesis how the authors called the measure or how it was assessed,ifmisnomer exists.632.2.5.1 The Role of Syntactic Awareness inReadingEmpirical evidence in English first language studiesshows that syntactic awarenesspredicts the development of wordrecognition skills in reading (Tunmer, 1989) and readingcomprehension (Cain, 2007; Oakhill etal., 2003). Tunmer (1989) was the first to emphasize theimportance of grammatical skills(actually syntactic awareness as measured by correctingerrorsof word order in spoken sentences)to word reading in 100 Grade 1 students and one yearlater.Syntactic awareness also influencedlistening comprehension. Syntactic awareness alongwithword decoding influenced readingcomprehension.Oakhill et al. (2003) examined in 102 Grade 1 and2 students predictors of word readingand reading comprehension.The predictors included vocabulary (PPVT), phonologicalawareness, verbal and non-verbal intelligence (WISC-R),working memory and syntacticawareness. Syntactic awareness wasmeasured through a test of reception of grammar. Theparticipant had to read aloud a sentenceand point to one of four pictures that corresponded tothesentence read. Reading comprehension wasassessed in three broad areas: (a) inference andliteral skills, (b) story structure, and (c)comprehension monitoring. Inference and literalmeasures included, whether or not given sentenceswere the ones that occurred in the texts read.In the story structure measure, participantshad to explain the story title and arrange sentences inthe correct order). The purpose ofcomprehension monitoring was to identify in a textwithconflicting information the part that did not makesense. Results showed that syntacticknowledge was uniquely predictive of readingcomprehension in later primary grades (8 yearsold).Similar results were found in Hebrew first language (Bentin,Deutsch, & Liberman,1990) with students 9 to 14 years old. Itshould be noted that this study did not systematicallycontrol for extraneous factors such as IQ and memory.Analyzing the outcome data is difficult as64the relationship between syntactic skills and reading comprehensionmay be due to workingmemory. This would add a third factor to those listed above.A study involving children aged 7-8 and 9-10 years old in Englandexamined if syntacticawareness shared a specific relation with word readingand reading comprehension (Cain, 2007).Variables such as IQ, memory and also vocabulary werecontrolled. Two different measureswere used to test syntactic awareness. A grammaticalcorrection task (morphology) was usedwhere participant had to fix wrong sentences (e.g., “The girlsclimbs the tree”). In addition, aword-order correction task (syntax) was also used. Onlythe older participants were administeredthe grammatical correction task. To test reading abilities,a reading comprehension and wordreading tasks were also administered. Participants hadto read texts increasing in length. Aftereach text a set of literal and inferential questions wereasked. The test also provided a wordreading score based on the number of word readingerrors made.Results from fixed-order hierarchical multiple regressionsshowed that the word-ordercorrection task was a unique predictor of word readingfor the older participants (9-10 years).However, the word-order correctiontask did not predict reading comprehension forboth theyounger (7-8 years) or older (9-10 years) participants. Similarly,the grammatical correction task(morphology) was not a unique predictor of variancein word reading or reading comprehensionfor the 9-10 years old. In the 9-10 years grouping,Cain (2007) found that the correlation betweensyntactic awareness and reading comprehensionmight arise because of variance sharedwithvocabulary and working memory skills. There wasalso evidence that word reading andsyntacticawareness share a unique variance that is notexplained by vocabulary or memory. Word-orderand grammatical correction tasks tap into differentadditional skills. Word-order correction ismore dependent on memory than grammatical correctiontasks (Bowey, 1986, 1 994a). Thus,thetwo measures of grammatical awareness are not equivalent. Thepresence or absence of65relationship between grammatical awareness and word reading andreading comprehension maydepend on which task is used to assess grammatical awareness: morphology or syntax. Itmayalso depend on how it is related to memory.However, in French as a first language studies where workingmemory and vocabularyhave been taken into account, syntactic knowledge still predicted readingcomprehension(Demont & Gombert, 1996; Gaux, 1996; Gaux & Gombert, 1999a,1999b; Ziarko & Mélançon,1999). In France, Demont and Gombert (1996) followed 23 Frenchspeaking Grades ito 3students. During a three-year longitudinal study, Demont and Gombert(1996) examined the roleof phonological awareness, syntactic awareness and non-verbalintelligence in recoding abilitiesand reading comprehension. Phonological awareness consisted ofa syllabic and phonemicdeletion, and counting tasks. Syntactic awareness tasks included: (a)lexical segmentation ofsentences (counting and pronouncing words in sentences,e.g., “le papillon vole — the butterfly isflying”), (b) grammatical judgment (judging if sentences are correct,e.g., “Elodie met samanteau — Elodie is putting on her coat”), (c) grammatical correction(correcting agrammaticalsentences mentioned in the grammatical correction task), and (d) grammaticalcorrection ofasemantic and agrainmatical sentences (correcting agrammaticality ofasemantic andagrammatical sentences without correcting the asemantic anomaly7,e.g., Blanche-Neige est unsorcier — Snow-white is a wizard”). Although the authors callthese tasks syntax, they appear tohave more to do with morphology.Non-verbal intelligence was measured with Raven’s ProgressiveMatrix. Word readingwas measured by recoding abilities. It consisted of reading a 265-wordstext with infrequent andirregular words calculating the number of errors in reading wordsand the reading speed.Reading comprehension was measured by Khomsi’s(1990) comprehension test. The readingsee notes 4 and 5.66comprehension task consisted of reading a sentence anddesignating the picture (among four)which corresponds to the sentence.Results from fixed regression order showed that atthe beginning of first grade,phonological awareness and syntactic tasks measuredby grammatical correction of asemanticand agrammatical sentences (morphology) predictedrecoding abilities. However, in DemontandGombert’s (1996) study, the predictive powerof the syntactic task measured by grammaticalcorrection of asemantic and agrammatical sentences(morphology) in word reading abilitiesdisappeared in favor of phonemic measures.Phonemic measures predicted later readingabilitiesup to Grade 3. The predictive power changed in functionof the timing of metalinguistic andreading evaluations. Demont and Gombert’s (1996)reasoned that the phonemic tasks mayhavebeen too difficult for the participantsat the beginning of first grade.In addition, Demont and Gombert (1996) carriedout stepwise regressions in Grade 2 and3 to establish predictors of reading comprehension. Resultsshowed that two of the syntactictasks, lexical segmentation and grammaticalcorrection, predicted reading comprehensionat theend of second and third grade after controlling forvocabulary and IQ. Similar results werefoundby Gaux (1996) with Grade 6 students using the same measuresas Demont and Gombert (1996).Syntactic awareness tasks also predicted readingcomprehension in a differentfrancophone context (Ziarko & Mélancon,1999). The Ziarko and Mélançon (1999)study foundthat syntactic abilities with Francophone inthe province of Quebec were also associatedwithreading comprehension performanceat the end of Grade 1. The study also ruled out thepossibleeffects of other variables, including intelligenceand vocabulary levels. As in Englishfirstlanguage (Cain, 2007), the relationship betweensyntactic awareness, word readingand readingcomprehension may depend on which taskis used to assess syntactic awareness.However, in a number of second languagestudies (Durgunoglu et al., 1993; Geva,2000;67Gottardo et al., 2001), syntactic awareness was not found to predict literacyskills of secondlanguage learners of English. Syntactic awareness tasks requirea degree of language proficiency.Because of this, syntactic tasks are likely to be more challenging forsecond language than firstlanguage learners. Several studies have shown poor secondlanguage syntactic awareness on thepart of second language learners compared to first languagelearners (Chiappe & Siegel, 1999;Da Fontura & Siegel, 1995; Droop & Verhoeven, 2003;Jongejan et al., 2007; Lesaux et al.,2006).In a recent longitudinal study over two years, Jongejanet al. (2007) tested and comparedtwo groups of Grade 1 and 4 students. Participantswere composed of native speakers ofEnglishand English second language speakers. The tasks includedphonological awareness, word andpseudoword reading, verbal working memory, spelling,lexical access and syntactic awareness.Syntactic awareness skills were assessed witha syntactic error judgment task. In this task, theparticipants were asked to decide if sentences werecorrect or not, e.g., “The boy be sad”(morphology). Results from a multivariate analysisof variance showed that native speakersperformed the strongest on measures of syntactic awarenessand verbal working memory. Theparticipants with the least exposure to English (Englishas a second language) showed poorperformance on the same two measures.In a French second language study, excluding Frenchimmersion, Lefrançois and Armand(2003) investigated the role of syntactic awareness inreading. The study was conducted withSpanish immigrants studying in French schools in theprovince of Quebec. Lefrancois andArmand (2003) examined 38 native speakersof Spanish age 9 to 11 (Grades 4 to 6) afterapproxithateiy 7 months of French instruction. The studyexplored contribution of phonologicalawareness, syntactic awareness and oral competence inword reading and readingcomprehension. All the tasks were in French. Syntacticawareness was assessed using fourtasks68adapted from Gombert, Gaux and Demont (1994) and Ziarko and Mélancon (1999).These tasksincluded: (a) sentence repetition, (b) grammaticalityjudgment (whether sentences weregrammatical, e.g., Le marchand vendre beaucoup de fleurs — Themerchant to sell lots offlowers”), (c) correction (correct grammatical error only inthe sentences presented in thegrammaticality judgment task, e.g.. “Le marchand vend beaucoupde fleurs — The merchant sellsbeaucoup de fleurs”), and (d) error replication (identify the grammaticalerror in four targetsentences, for e.g., wrong-subject-verb agreement, andfor each one produce the same error intwo sentences). Although the authors call these tasks syntax,they appear to have more to do withmorphology. Oral competence was assessed throughvarious aspects of oral comprehension suchas morphology, syntax and vocabulary knowledge (Carrow-Woolfolk,1985). Participants had tochoose the image corresponding to the stimulus item. Readingincluded decoding (reading list ofproper nouns) and word recognition (word-image pairs).It also included sentencecomprehension adapted from Khomsi (1990) and expositorytext comprehension (oral recall ofpropositions and arguments).The Lefrancois and Armand (2003) study foundthat “this is the first time in secondlanguage that a strong correlation has appearedbetween syntactic awareness and readingcomprehension. Oral competence shows a correlationas strong as syntactic awareness”(p. 238).Results from multiple regressions showed that althoughadding metalinguistic variables to theregression model significantly increases the percentageof variance explained, the most stronglyassociated variable is oral competence. The capacityto understand the second language orally(asmeasured by vocabulary, syntax andmorphology) best explains the ability to understand writtenentenees in French. Lefrancois and Armand (2003)concluded that being able to reflect onthesyntax of the second language is relatedto the capacity to understand written sentences inFrenchas a second language. Thus, syntactic awarenesshas an effect on French second language69reading comprehension.The Lefrancois and Armand (2003) results pertaining to sentence andtext comprehensionare in line with those of French first language studies with Grade 1 students (Demont&Gombert, 1996; Gaux & Gombert, 1999a; Ziarko & Mélançon, 1999).In the French firstlanguage studies in France (Demont & Gombert, 1996; Gaux& Gombert, 1999a) and in theprovince of Quebec (Ziarko & Mélancon, 1999), syntactic awarenesspredicted readingcomprehension. However, results of the Lefrancois and Armand (2003)study contradict anearlier study in the province of Quebec (Armand, 2000).Armand (2000) analyzed if differences existed in the performanceof 20 Grade 1 Frenchsecond language students (allophones) and 19 Grade 1 Francophonestudents on linguistic,semantic, phonological, syntactic, oral competence, wordreading and reading comprehensiontasks in French. The semantic task measured the identificationof the longest word in twopictures, e.g, “un train — a train; une coccinelle — a ladybug”. Phonologicalawareness tasksincluded initial and fmal phoneme deletion in words and nonwords;but no syllabic measures.Syntactic tasks combined both a morphological task(correcting grammatical and agrammaticalsentences, e.g., “ta maman sontjolie — Your motherare beautiful”) and a syntactic task (orderingwords). Oral competence was measured using a receptivevocabulary task (identifying amongfour pictures, the picture that correspondedto the word). Reading comprehension was measuredthrough recalling and answering comprehension questionsof a narrative text.Results of multiple regression analyses revealed thatphonemic abilities predicted 21% ofthe variance of word reading for allophone studentsand 43% for francophone students. AlthoughArmand’s participants were not identified as French immersion, theywere since Kindergarten ina situation of “successive bilingualism”(p. 469). That is, students had neither English nor Frenchas a first language which is in an increasingly similar situation ofFrench immersion students in70British Columbia. Armand’s results also showed that for allophonestudents the combinedmorphological and syntactic awareness tasks did not explain readingcomprehension. Age mayhave influenced those findings in second language for the allophonestudents. It could be thatolder readers in the Lefrancois and Armand’s (2003) study are moreable to use syntacticawareness than younger readers in the Armand’s (2000) study.In the French immersion context, syntactic awarenesshas not been found to predictliteracy skills of second language learners of French (Cormier& Kelson, 2000). Cormier andKelson followed 103 Grades ito 3 students in New Brunswick. Thestudy examined the roles ofphonological and syntactic awareness, verbalworking memory and lexical access in spelling andword reading, but not reading comprehension in French immersion.Test administered in Englishand in French included spelling, word decoding and phonologicalawareness. Tests of cognitiveskills (verbal working memory, rapid naming, visual-spatial reasoningand syntactic awareness)were administered only in English, the participants’ firstlanguage, to obtain the bestperformance and due to time restrictions also.Syntactic awareness was assessed using a syntacticerror judgment task in English (determining if a sentencewas grammatically correct, e.g., “Lastnight, Johnny sleeps in his bed”). Sentences could be wrong becausewords were not in thecorrect order (syntax), function of words were incorrect (syntax),or verbs did not agree in tenseor number with the subject (morphology). To assess French literacyskills, The FrenchImmersion Achievement Word Reading Subtest(Wormeli & Ardanaz, 1987) was used.Hierarchical regression analyses showed that phonological awarenessexplained a significantamount of variance of word decoding after taking into account thecontributions of lexical accessand verbal working memory. Syntactic awareness didnot emerge as a predictor as shown by theweak performance of French immersion studentson that task.Syntactic awareness has been found to predictreading comprehension for native speakers71but not second language speakers. Some first languageauthors, Gottardo et a!. (1996) havehypothesized that problems at the phonological levelcould slow down high-level processes andhinder the role of syntactic awareness in reading comprehension.If the readers in secondlanguage have not yet automated low-level processes,it could hinder the use of their syntacticawareness in high-level processes. Syntactic awarenessdoes not emerge as a strongly associatedvariable despite its correlation with reading comprehension.A higher level of bilingualismwould perhaps be necessary to let syntacticawareness emerge as a predictor. A differentsyntactic awareness task may also lead to different results.Morphology is the second linguistic feature ofthe second language knowledge dimension‘grammatical form’ in Bemhardt’s (2005)compensatory model ofsecond languagereading thatplays a role in word reading and reading comprehension.2.2.5.2 The Role of Morphological Awarenessin ReadingA growing body of evidence shows thatmorphological awareness is important whenthereader is reading for meaning. Morphologicalawareness contributes to reading developmentinEnglish monolingual students (Carlisle, Beeman,Davis, & Spharim, 1999; Deacon& Kirby,2004; Mahony et a!., 2000) and in French monolingualstudents (Casalis & Louis-Alexandre,2000; Plaza & Cohen, 2003). Morphologicalawareness also contributes to readingdevelopmentacross a range of alphabetic and non alphabeticorthographies (Abu-Rabiaet a!., 2003; McBrideChang et al., 2005; McBride-Chang et al., 2003) andsecond language learners (Bindman, 2004;Deacon et al., 2007; Droop & Verhoeven, 1998b;Wang et al., 2006). As the presentstudypertains to French immersion students, my literaturereview will only cover the studiesthat arepertinent to French monolingual and learnersof a second language (French or otherlanguages).Contrary to a growing body of evidencethat morphological awareness contributestoword reading in English first language, thereis some limited empirical evidence that72morphological awareness and reading development are related in Frenchfirst language (Casalis& Louis-Alexandre, 2000; Plaza & Cohen, 2003). Plaza and Cohen (2003)undertook a studywith 267 French speaking Grade 1 monolingual students. Plaza andCohen examined the role ofdifferent variables in both word and pseudoword reading(Mousty et al., 1994) and readingcomprehension (Khomsi, 1999). Phonological awareness was assessedusing initial phonemedeletion and syllabic inversion tasks. Syntactic awarenessassessed both syntax andmorphological knowledge (a sentence judgment/correction task).Other variables includednaming speed, auditory sequential memory (digit repetition task)and dictation spelling. Acomposite measure of word reading and readingcomprehension was created. Results fromhierarchical regression analyses showed that morphologicalawareness accounted for uniquevariance (2%) in word reading and reading comprehensionafter variance in phonologicalawareness (14%) and naming speed (8%) had been controlledfor. These fmdings provide someevidence that morphological deficits may be relevantto reading.Similarly, Casalis and Louis-Alexandre (2000) in alongitudinal study from Kindergartento Grade 2 examined the relationship between morphologicalawareness, phonologicalawareness, receptive vocabulary, word decoding and readingcomprehension in 55 monolingualFrench speakers. Phonological awareness was measuredusing a rhyme choice test, a phonemedeletion test and a syllable deletion test. Morphological awarenesswas assessed using sentencecompletion with an affixed word (e.g., contraryto ‘coller’ is ‘décoller’) and an affixedpseudoword task. The morphological awareness task also includeda morphemic synthesis task(pronouncing a whole word given rootand affix) and an inflectional morphology task (femininee.g., bon/bonne’, verb/tense words (e.g., il chante/ilchantait’). Reading comprehension wasassessed in Grade 1 and 2 using a French standard reading test (readingaloud a text, accountingfor speed and accuracy). After controlling for IQ and vocabularydifferences, regression analyses73showed that morphological awareness in Grade 2 predicted reading comprehensionin Grade 2.However, morphological awareness in Grade 1 did not predict reading comprehensioninGrade 2.The results from Casalis and Louis-Alexandre (2000) aredifferent from Plaza and Cohen(2003) at the Grade 1 level. Casalis and Louis-Alexandre (2000) useda morphological task inGrade 1 with a reading task alone. Plaza and Cohen (2003) assessed bothsyntax andmorphological knowledge in Grade 1. Despite thesedifferences, morphological awarenessappears to play a role in reading development in French. Studies withparticipants who aredeveloping second language skills (Bindman, 2004;Deacon et al., 2007; Droop & Verhoeven,1998b; Wang et al., 2006) are more limited. Still, morphologicalawareness appears to play a rolein reading development of second language learners.Droop and Verhoeven (1 998b) examined the role ofmorphological awareness of 70Grade 3 students acquiring literacy in Dutch as a firstand second language (with Turkish andMoroccan as first language). Droop and Verhoeven(1998b) used a task that combinedmorphological awareness and syntactic skills. Similarlyto first language research, Grade3students in the Droop and Verhoeven’s study appearedto use both morphological and syntacticknowledge when reading in a second language.Bindman (2004) examined the same relationshipin 116 individuals (6-10 years) withEnglish as a first language and learning Hebrew as a secondlanguage in two Jewish schoolsinthe United Kingdom. Participants were given vocabulary andoral and written morpho-syntacticawareness tasks in both languages. Oral-doze in Englishrequired the use of syntactic,morphological and semantic information to completesentences (e.g., “The boy_____down andhurt his knees.”). Missing word included nouns, adjectivesprepositions, conjunctions,interrogatives and verbs. After controlling for ageand vocabulary, multiple regressionanalyses74revealed “cross-language relationships between oral morpho-syntactic task, suggestinga transferbetween first and second language” (Bindman, 2004,p.691). Second language morphologicalknowledge (e.g., of the written three-consonant Hebrew root) was also relatedto first languagemorphological spelling. The relation provided evidence that knowledgeof morphologicalprinciples acquired in one language could also be used for spelling in anotherlanguage. Forexample, words that come from the same root are spelled similarly.Similar results were found in the context of readingas an interactive process in theacquisition of two distinct writing systems, Chineseand English (Wang et al., 2006). In thecontext of Chinese-English biliteracy acquisition, Wang et a!. (2006)studied the contribution ofmorphological awareness in 64 Grade 2 and 3 Chinese immigrantsin the Washington area of theUnited States. The tasks in Chinese and English were comparable.They included morphologicalawareness, phonological awareness, oral vocabulary, wordreading and reading comprehension.Morphological awareness in English was assessed usinga compound-structure and aderivational-morphological task.“Compounding and derivational are two important types of morphologicalstructure inEnglish. Compounding task refers to the formation ofa new word by combining two ormore stem morphemes, whereas derivation involves constructionof a new word byadding a morpheme (affix) to change the meaning ofa stem morpheme.”(Wang et al.,2006,p.545)In the compound-structure task, the participant was first asked to choosethe betteranswer to two riddles presented orally (e.g., “Which wasa better namefor a bee that lives in thegrass: a grass bee or a bee grass?”). The participantwas then asked to choose a best compoundname among four choices for a short description (e.g.,“Ifyoufound a lidfor a dish to keepcandy in, what would it be called: dish lid candy dish 1i4dish candy lia’ or candy lid dish?”). Inthe derivational-morphological task, the participant wasasked to complete a sentence based on aclue word, which was a root word (e.g., For the clue word‘farm’, the sentence to be completed75was “ My uncle is a________“(farmer)).Reading comprehension was assessed usingthe WideRange Achievement Test-Expanded Edition (WRAT-E).Results from hierarchical regression analyses in the Wang et al.’s(2006) study revealedthat English derivational morphology predicted Englishword reading (accounting for 10% of thevariance) and English compound morphologypredicted Chinese character reading (accountingfor 3% of the variance). The analyses also showed thatEnglish compound morphology predictedEnglish reading comprehension (accounting for6% of the variance) and Chinese readingcomprehension (accounting for 11% of the variance).However, Chinese morphologicalawareness did not predict English reading comprehension.Chinese and English have quitedifferent orthographies. Wang et al.’s (2006) results suggestdifferent fmdings from the Comeauet al. (1999) cross-linguistic study. Comeauet al.’s (1999) research on phonological awarenessbetween English and French demonstrated transfer inboth directions since English and Frenchhave a ‘closer’ orthography but he sameis not true between English and Chinese.Deacon et al. (2007) examined the role of morphologicalawareness in reading in thecontext of French immersion in Ontario. A total of 58Grades 1 to 3 students were tested. Frenchmeasures tested included word reading,vocabulary, phonological awareness and morphologicalawareness. Word reading was assessed using the FrenchImmersion Achievement Test (Wormeli& Ardanaz, 1987). Vocabulary was measured throughthe French version of the PPVT-R (Dunn,Thériault-Whalen, & Dunn, 1993b). Phonologicalawareness consisted of phoneme countinginGrade 1 and phoneme deletion in Grades 2and 3. Morphological awareness was assessed usingasentence analogy task where past and present tenseswere manipulated, e.g., “Je connais cegarcon” changed to “Je connaissais ce garcon”). Similartasks were used in English.Results from hierarchical regression analyses determinedthat measures of Englishmorphological awareness were significantlyrelated to both English and French word reading.76The Deacon et al. study (2007) seems to suggest that first languagemorphological awarenessplays a role in French and English word reading. This role is also extendedwith second languagemorphological awareness.All of the studies were either done in French in a francophonecontext or in a French as asecond language context. Testing was done in the provinces of Quebec,Ontario or NewBrunswick. The province of Quebec is predominantlyFrench speaking and New Brunswick isthe only official bilingual province in Canada. No studyhas yet been undertaken in the contextof French immersion in British Columbia. British Columbiais predominantly English speaking.French as a second language is often not available inthe communities within the province.Grammar (morphology and syntax) is not taughtsystematically in the British Columbiaelementary curriculum. Therefore, limited morphologicaland syntactic awareness in secondlanguage might influence the ability to comprehend coursematerials in French immersion suchas in Science and Social Studies. Morphological awareness mightplay an important role inFrench immersion students’ reading comprehension inBritish Columbia.However, reading in a second language shouldnot solely comprise mastering newvocabulary and expressions and morphological structures.It should also integrate some culturalbackground knowledge elements. The cultural knowledge elementsare entwined with the targetlanguage itself. Reading comprehension canbe impaired when considerable culture specificknowledge is incorporated in a text. Bemhardt (2005)has identified as part of her compensatorymodel ofsecond language reading ‘content knowledge’as a variable that may come to play insecond language reading comprehension(see section 2.1.3.1). Content knowledgehas also beenreferred to as world knowledge (Bemhardt, 1991 b)of the content area of the text (see section2.1.2.3). It includes culture specific knowledge orcultural knowledge of the target culture.772.2.6 Second Language Cultural KnowledgeSecond language instruction has traditionally been seen as limited to the linguistic elementsof the language. Language knowledge involves not only knowing the languagebut also knowinghow to use the language. Knowing how to use a language is for the mostpart related to cultureand the relation between language and culture has become even moreimportant in a bilingualand even multilingual country like Canada. Language awareness and cultural awarenessgo handin hand. This is especially true for French immersion students becausethe second language is notonly explicitly taught. It is also the medium of the curriculum instruction.In order to learn thecontent of the subject matter being taught in French students need to understandwhat they arereading. French immersion learners necessarily become learners of thesecond culture because alanguage cannot be learned without an understanding of the culturalcontext in which it is used.Effective reading comprehension is more than a matter of language proficiency.However,successful reading comprehension seldom occurs unless second languageusers have obtainedsome second language cultural knowledge associated with that second language.For theparticipants of the present study, second language cultural knowledgeconstitutes an importantelement in considering the relationship of reading comprehension in asecond language.Section 2.2.6.1 will briefly review the concept of culture in secondlanguage. Section2.2.6.2 will define second language cultural knowledge forthe present study and explain itsimportance in reading comprehension. Section 2.2.6.3 will presentthe empirical research’sfindings of the role of second language cultural knowledge in readingcomprehension.2.2.6.1 The Concept of CultureCulture has been conceptualized in many differentways in Applied Linguistics. As withreading theories, the concept of culture has shifted and transitioned throughtheoreticalperspectives. Defining culture is theoretically complex.78Linguists and anthropologists have long recognized that the forms and uses ofa givenlanguage reflect the cultural values of the society and the social practices inwhich the languageis spoken. In the 1970’s, the anthropologist Geertz (1973) provided the best-knowndefmition ofculture at that time. Geertz (1973) defined culture as “an historically transmittedsemioticnetwork constructed by humans and which allows them to develop, communicateand perpetuatetheir knowledge, beliefs and attitudes about the world”(p. 89). Language is not only part of howwe define culture, it also reflects culture.Language learning and culture learning have traditionally been isolated from oneanotherwith primary emphasis on language learning. Culture learning occurredafter or around languagelearning. Only rarely was culture seen as fostering language learning. Culture studyhas beendriven by an add-on approach with culture learning being information-centered.For example,second language instruction in the 1960’s has traditionally relied on the distinctionbetween thehumanistic concept of Big C and the more pragmatic concept of small c (Brooks,1968). Big Cwas related to great works of art or literature in teaching language (civilization)and small c wasrelated to everyday life interactional encounters and etiquette. This distinction preventedanyinterrelationships that could explain the coherence of the value systems of the languagesocietybeing studied. Culture was seen as more complex than the Big C - small c distinction,thefour Fs(foods, fairs, folkiores and statistical facts), the three Cs (civilization,celebrations, community)and the three Ps (perspectives, practices and products).However, the culture associated with a language cannot be learnedin a few lessons aboutcelebrations, folk songs or costumes of the area in which the languageis spoken. Culture isdynamic. Bennett (1993) defmed culture in terms of objective culture andsubjective culture.Objective culture is being defined as both cultural creations (including institutions)and artifactsof formal culture (eating, behavior, etc.). Subjective cultureis being defined as language use,79nonverbal behavior, communication style, cognitivestyle and cultural values. Such perspectiveavoids the conflicts and separations that arise in theBig C - small c, four Fs, three Cs, or threePs culture distinctions. The objective/subjective culture perspectivedoes not view culture simplyas information or as cultural practices such as food and leisure activitiesthat are heavily encodedin noun. Culture is also seen as a belief system subcodedin nuances of adjectives choices,appraisal systems, voice and tone. Conceptually, thiscultural perspective situates languagewithin a cultural framework that takes into considerationindividual mental processes(a person’sperceptions and judgments) as well as the interactionbetween individuals in a society.It can be argued that a person’s perceptions and judgmentsare influenced by theassumptions shared by the groups to which the personbelongs. In this modern perspective,culture can then be viewed as integratedpatterns of learned behavior (Pritchard, 1990; Sharifian,2003). Culture is defmed as an “integrated patternof human behavior that includes thoughts,communications, languages, practices,beliefs, values, customs, courtesies, rituals,manners ofinteracting and roles, relationships and expected behaviorsof a racial, ethnic, religious or socialgroup” (Goode, Sockalingam, Brown,& Jones, 2000,p.1). In this view, culture is seen as theknowledge, skills, attitudes, values, needsand motivations that shape an individual’sability tooperate in the cultural setting in which he/she exists.This definition encompasses both thenotionof cultural perspectives and practices. In this context,cultural practices include popular beliefs,commonly upheld values, shared attitudes andwidely maintained assumptions of themembers ofa culture. Cultural practices comprise the use of formsof discourse including vocabulary. Thus,second language cultural knowledge involvesknowing how to speak and how to use thesecondlanguage appropriately.Culture is a much broader concept that is tied to manyof the linguistic concepts taughtinsecond language classes. Linguistic competence aloneis not enough for learners ofa language to80be competent in that language. Kramsch (1993) emphasized thatthe impact of culture onlanguage learning and use is complex. In her book Contextand Culture in Language Teaching,Kramsch (1993) stated “if language is seen as socialpractice, culture becomes the very core oflanguage teaching. Cultural awareness must be viewedboth as enabling language proficiencyand as being outcome of reflection on language proficiency”(p. 8). Second language learnersnecessarily become learners of the second culture. Alanguage cannot be learned without anunderstanding of the culture context in which it is used.“Through the study of a second language, studentsgain knowledge and understanding ofthe second culture that use that language, which is knownas cultural knowledge. In factstudents cannot truly master the language until they havealso mastered the culturalcontexts in which the language occurs.” (NationalStandards in Foreign LanguageEducation Project, 1996,p.27)Language learners need to be aware of and understandthe culturally appropriate ways toaddress people, express gratitude, make requests andagree or disagree with someone. Languagelearners should know that members of thetarget language community might not perceivebehaviors and intonation patterns positively even thoughthey might be appropriate in their ownspeech or written community. Language learners haveto understand that language use must beassociated with culturally appropriate behavior.The main hypothesis is that effectivecomprehension is more than a matter of languageproficiency. Successful comprehension seldomever takes place unless second language users haveobtained some cultural competency ofthelanguage they are using.Meaningful cultural communication depends on theachievement of an ability to understanddifferent modes of thinking and living, as theyare embodied in the language to be learned.Byram’s (1997) theory was a precursor ofthe notion of intercultural communication.Intercultural communication involves multiple knowledgesuch as how to be, how to think, howto behave and cooperate across cultural boundariesand in different cultural contexts.81Intercultural communication also involves the ability to merge or mediatebetween differentmodes present in any specific interaction. This mode of understandinghas been labeled asintercultural communicative competence.“Each individual forms relationships with a widening cluster of overlappingsocial groups,which together define identity. In an intercultural approach, it isa central objective oflanguage education to promote the favorable development ofthe learner’s wholepersonality and sense of identity in response to the enriching experienceof otherness inlanguage and culture.” (Council of Europe, 2001,p.1)Intercultural competence helps students to developan understanding of the ways in whichpeople of another culture speak and behave. Interculturalcompetence enhances communicativecompetence in every sense: listening, speaking, writingor reading. Cultural awareness is a goalwhen learning another language and its culture. This iseven more important to increase Frenchimmersion students’ awareness and to develop their interestand ability towards the targetculture. In the French immersion context, students learnthe second language as early asKindergarten and use it as their language of communication.These comparisons between one’sown and target culture are not meant to underestimate oroverestimate foreign cultures buttoenrich students’ experience and knowledge ofthe second culture.The Common European Framework,as part of its focus of the European ResearchProgramme Processes of Language Acquisition in MultipleEnvironment, has emphasizedintercultural sensitivity as one of the five goal areas inunderstanding a second language andculture. “Intercultural sensitivity among whichcultural knowledge, labeled as knowledgeoftheworld” (Council of Europe, 2001, p. 101). Knowledgeof the shared values and beliefs heldbysocial groups in other countries and regions isessential to intercultural communication. Anynewknowledge is not simply added onto the knowledgeone had before but is conditioned bythenature, richness and structure of one’sprevious knowledge. The knowledge that an individual82has already acquired is directly relevant to language learning.“However, in certain contexts (e.g. immersion, attending school wherethe language oftuition is not one’s mother tongue), there is simultaneous and correlated enrichmentoflinguistic and other knowledge. The learner of a second or foreign language andculturedoes not cease to be competent in his or her mother tongue and the associated culture.Noris the new competence kept entirely separate from the old. The learnerdoes not simplyacquire two distinct, unrelated ways of acting and communicating. Thelanguage learnerdevelops interculturality.” (Council of Europe, 2001,p.102)The linguistic and cultural knowledge contributes to intercultural awareness.Interculturalawareness has been defined as “knowledge, awareness and understandingof the relation(similarities and distinctive differences) between the worldoforigin and the world ofthe targetcommunity” (Council of Europe, 2001,p.103). Intercultural awareness enables the individualtodevelop greater openness to new cultural experiences. More difficult tobridge are differences invalues and beliefs, politeness conventions and social expectations unlessthey have acquired therelevant intercultural awareness. It is important to note that interculturalawareness may alsoinclude an awareness of regional diversity in both worlds. This may be thecase within differentfrancophone contexts, for example the province of Quebec and France.In addition to objectiveand subjective knowledge, intercultural awareness covers an awarenessof how each communityappears from the perspective of the other, often in the form of regional ornational stereotypes.2.2.6.2 The Concept of Second Language Cultural Knowledgeand its Importancein Reading ComprehensionThe definition of second language cultural knowledge chosen forthis research is basedon the recent perspective in Applied Linguistics for rethinkingthe relationship of language andculture in second language education (Zarate, Levy, & Kramsch,2007). A definition that isoperationalized on three levels: schema, vocabulary and considerationof values and attitudes ofthe target cultural group (Tang, 2006).83For the present study, second language cultural knowledge is defined as thevocabularythat reflects the culture of the second language. More specifically,second language vocabularythat reflects the thoughts, practices, beliefs, values, customs, courtesies,rituals, manners ofinteracting and roles, relationships and expectedbehaviors of the second language culture, i.e.,the francophone culture. In the course of acquiring functional languageabilities, secondlanguage students acquire among others, languageawareness, meaning interpretation andcultural awareness, and sensibility (MLA Ad HocCommittee on Foreign Languages, 2007).Research indicates that reading comprehension results fromthe integrative interactionbetween derived textual information and preexistingknowledge (Nassau, 2007). Appropriateschemata must exist and must be activated duringtext processing. If not, a mismatch will occurbetween what the writer anticipates the reader can doto extract meaning from the text and whatthe reader is actually able to do. This will result invarious degrees of non-comprehension.When second language readers concentrateonly on the information contained in thestory, readers attribute their failureto get the point to another lack of information, namelytheirdeficient knowledge of the second culture. Kramsch(1993) states further that “In fact whattheyare missing is not an even greater amountof information, but awareness of their ownframe ofreference and of their dialogue with the text duringthe reading process” (p. 124). Researchintosecond language reading comprehensiondoes indicate that comprehension is a function of theuse of multiple sources of knowledge. Comprehensioncan be impaired when considerableculture specific knowledge is incorporatedin a text and the second language readersdo notpossess the presumed second language cultural knowledge.Second language readers will thendraw on their first language cultural knowledgeto interpret less familiar elements encounteredduring the reading exercise.84Gaps in cultural schemata may lead to gaps in comprehension.Second language readersoften do not possess the language backgroundto interpret less familiar elements encounteredduring the reading exercise (Carrell et al.,1988; Maria, 1990). “In terms of interactivemodel,what it amounts to is that there isa level below which a deficit in one componentcannot becompensated for by a corresponding strengthin another” (Urquhart & Weir,1998,p.72). Manysecond language learners may compensate for limitationsin second language knowledgebyrelying on their content schema (Carrell,1981a, 1981b, 1987; Connor, 1984;Johnson, 1981;Parry, 1987; Perkins & Angelis, 1985).Content schemata include secondlanguage culturalknowledge. This may be a successful copingstrategy if the readers are familiar with theculturalcontent. If they are not, the extent towhich their problems with backgroundknowledge may bedue to other factors has beenleft unanswered.Elements of culture that are crucial to understandinga reading text depend on thedefmition of reading comprehension.If reading comprehension only means understandingwhattook place in the story, who did whatto whom, when and where, then elementsof culture are notimportant in understanding a story.If reading comprehension also includesthe reconstruction ofa message encoded by the writer, then elementsof culture are important in understandinga story.In order to interpret the message as it wasintended to be understood, thereare two layers ofmeaning crucial to understanding a text.The reader is led to the whole explicit meaning(who?what? where?) and the implicit meaningof the text (why? how?). It isimplicit meaning of thetext which is drawing on textualand cultural inferences. Implicit meaningof a text is the mostdifficult for second language students.Textual inference deals with readingability, whereascultural inference depends on theability of the students to identify with thesituation orcharacters in a second language setting.852.2.6.3 The Role of Second Language Cultural Knowledgein ReadingComprehensionDuring the process of comprehending written text, readersuse their knowledge of theworld as well as their knowledge of the languageto construct meaning from the text. In thisway,it is possible to build a representative modelof the text. When a reader’s backgroundknowledgeis similar to the knowledge presupposed bya text, the interpretation of the textmay be close towhat the author intended.A substantive body of research has emergedto indicate the likelihood that secondlanguage learners understanding of conceptualizationsand constructs in a second cultureisfundamentally affected by their culturallydefined woridviews, beliefs andassumptions. Theempirical research from the 1970’s to the presenttime on the role and effect of culturalknowledge in second language reading comprehensionwas conducted mainly in Englishas asecond language context and with adult participants.Only a few had young individualsasparticipants. For the purposeof this research, only those studies investigatingthe role of contentschemata (which include second languagecultural knowledge) in secondlanguage readingcomprehension with young readers willbe examined. References to secondlanguage and/or firstlanguage studies with adults will onlybe made if appropriate. Studies will be presentedinsections 2.2.6.3.1 to 2.2.6.3.3 accordingto three categories. The categoriesinclude: (a) studiesexamining cultural schemata accordingto ethnic background, (b) studies investigatingthemanner and type of background knowledgegiven to readers to increase comprehensionofculture specific text, and (c) studies examiningtopic knowledge/familiarity.2.2.6.3.1 Cultural Schemata andParticipants’ Ethnic BackgroundStudies undertaken mostly with adults showedthat readers did better in readingcomprehension and recall on materialsfor which they had the appropriate culturalschemata.86Readers with cultural knowledge scored higheron reading comprehension tests.Kintsch and Greene (1978) examined the impactof cultural background knowledgein theprocess of reading comprehension. Inthe Kintsch and Green study, Americancollege studentsread two stories: a Grimm fairy tale and anApache folk tale. Recall protocolsindicated that theAmerican students had better recalled withthe Brothers Grimm story than withthe Apache folktale. Two criticisms emerged from this study.There was no controlgroup of American Indianparticipants. It is presumed that the AmericanIndian participants would havefound theAmerican Indian text easier to comprehendthan the European text becauseof prior familiaritywith the rhetorical organization and content.Another criticism of this studywas the failure ofKintsch and Greene (1978) to distinguish contentfrom formal schemata. Not onlydid theEuropean and American Indian texts differin rhetorical organization, theyalso had differentcultural contents. It was possible thatthe American participants were simplymore familiar withthe cultural content of the Grimm’sfairy tale, including the objectsand events in the tale, thanthey were with the content of the Apache text.In an effort to eliminate this possible bias,Steffensen, Joag-Dev and Anderson(1979)designed a study with two groups of participantswith different cultural heritages.One was agroup of students from India living in theUnited States of America. Theother was a group ofmainstream Americans. Participantsin each group were asked toread and recall two passageswith different cultural content. Onepassage, in the form of a letter,described a traditionalwedding in India. The other passage describeda traditional American wedding. Sincethewedding is a ceremony of social importance,it was assumed by the authorsthat all adultmembers of a society would havea well-developed system of backgroundknowledge. Allparticipants would be familiar withthe marriage customs of their own culture.They would alsoexhibit a comparative lack of knowledgeabout the customs of more distantcultures with which87they were less familiar. In addition, syntactic complexityof each letter, which was written by amember of that culture, was controlled. Cultural knowledgein reading comprehension was testedby using reading time, written recall, recall of importantvs. unimportant information andmodification of text in recall. Free recall (number of ideaunits) and probe recall (through wordsthat occurred in meaningful sentence contexts) dataindicated the influence of cultural schematain reading both letters. Results showed thatboth groups read faster and recalled moreof thematerial pertaining to their own cultural background.Participants tended to distort theinformation from unfamiliar cultures. The Steffensenet al. (1979) study illustrated how culturalschemata can affect inferential and literal comprehensionand recall of presented readingmaterial. However, the Steffensen et al. (1979) studydid not examine cultural variablesinteracting with second language factors.Since this seminal study of Steffensen etal. (1979), research has also found that thecultural origin of text material has greater effect onreading comprehension than its linguisticcomplexity. Second language readers use differentstrategies when reading familiar andunfamiliar text. A set of studies has examined the roleof cultural knowledge in the readingcomprehension of second language learners.This set of studies can be subdivided intotwocategories: (a) studies keeping rhetoric structures ofa text constant and manipulating the content,and (b) studies varying rhetoric structures of a text andmanipulating the content.2.2.6.3.1.1 Studies Keeping RhetoricStructures Constant andManipulating the ContentThe first set of studies kept rhetoric structures of a text constantand manipulated thecontent. The studies examined second languagereading comprehension of adults using narrativetexts (Bernhardt, 1985; Bemhardt & Kamil, 1995; Kang,1992; Lin, 2002; Steffensen, Goetz,&Cheng, 1999; Yuet & Chan, 2003), or expository texts(Malik, 1990). Most studies were88undertaken with university students in the English second languagecontext. Bernhardt’s (1985)and Bemhardt and Kamil’s (1995) were in a Germansecond language context with English asthe first language.In a recent study, Yuet and Chan (2003) provided Chinese/HongKong English as asecond language university students with two texts. Onetext had cultural content familiar toHong Kong (about symbols). The other text was culturefree (about sleeping). Using doze test,results showed that cultural knowledge on reading comprehensionseemed to be more significantin second language reading relative to language proficiency.Intermediate university studentsrelied more on background knowledge or cultural competence,than linguistic competence. Post-intermediate university students were able to compensatefor cultural knowledge with theirlinguistic knowledge.Kang (1992) found similar results. Read aloud recall protocolsdemonstrated that KoreanEnglish second language graduate students, when theyread unfamiliar words in English, reliedon their Korean language and cultural schemata. Kangconcluded that second languageinformation might be filtered through the first languagecultural knowledge or semanticinterpretation. The activation and generation of culture-specificschemata and inferences at timessignificantly affected subject’s comprehension.All the above-mentioned studies ignored the factthat second language culturalknowledge also comprises affective and imageryaspects. From a somewhat differentperspectiveSteffensen, Goetz and Cheng (1999) compared thequality and quantity of text-induced imageryand emotional responses among 64 English asa second language Mandarin learners in a Chineseuniversity. The participants listed and rankedtheir mental pictures and affective responses afterreading in Chinese and English a text describinga similar trip respectively in China andin theUnited States. Results showed that the perceptions ofvividness of the participants’ mental89images and the strength of their emotionalreactions did not differ between the groups.However,a good deal more imagery and stronger emotional responseswere reported by the group readingChinese (first language) text. These fmdingsseem to lead to two tentative conclusions.Mentalimages emerging from second language textsare less vivacious than those emergingfrom firstlanguage texts. Restricted imagery and affectcan be formed in the absenceof totalunderstanding. It is not clear whether the limitedimagery induced by the secondlanguage text isentirely attributable to insufficient secondlanguage cultural knowledge. Becausethe secondlanguage text required three times longer readingtime, it may be that limited linguisticknowledge or a combination of insufficientlinguistic knowledge and culturalunfamiliarity,accounted for restricted imagery during secondlanguage text processing.2.2.6.3.1.2 Studies Varying RhetoricStructures andManipulating the ContentThe second set of studies examineddiffered in that they varied rhetorical structuresof atext, contrary to the first set that kept it constantand manipulated the content. Thesestudies oftenprovided both a complexand a simplified text in terms of linguisticand text structures. Themajority of available studies (Carrell, 1981a,1981b, 1987; Connor, 1984; Johnson, 1981;Parry,1987; Perkins & Angelis, 1985)tested adults. Campbell (1981) and Droopand Verhoeven(1 998a) were the only two studiestesting second language children exclusively.Droop and Verhoeven (1998a) testedreading comprehension of Turkishand MoroccanGrade 3 students who were learningDutch as a second language in the Netherlands.Participantswere asked to retell Dutch expositorytexts reflecting Dutch culture (partof the Netherlandsreading curriculum) as well as expositorytexts reflecting the Turkish andMoroccan culture.Reading comprehension was assessed throughrecall protocol, including questions priorand afterreading. Droop and Verhoeven (1998a) found that Turkish and Moroccan participantswho were90learning Dutch as a second languagein the Netherlands performedsignificantly worse thanDutch Grade 3 students on texts fromthe Netherlands reading curriculumthat emphasized Dutchculture. Droop and Verhoeven (1998a)attributed this to the nature ofthe texts (expository).Droop and Verhoeven reportedthat the linguistic complexity ofan expository text comparedto anarrative text, could impedereaders’ performance on culturallyrelevant texts. Whenthe textsreflected the Turkish and Moroccanreaders’ culture and were linguisticallysimple, the Turkishand Moroccan participants performedsignificantly better thanthe Dutch participants. Whenthetexts were linguistically complex, thedifferences were negated dueto the Turkish and Moroccanreaders’ lower proficiency inDutch.The lack of knowledge of culturallydetennined knowledge,the linguistic complexity(thelevel of syntactic or semanticcomplexity) of a text and thenature of a text used for readingcomprehension, such as expositorytexts, affect the comprehensionof second language readers.Some researchers have questioned whethera support, such as pictures or culture-specificvocabulary, given before orduring reading, could lead secondlanguage readers to achieveabetter comprehension of culture-specifictexts.2.2.6.3.2 Manner andType of Background KnowledgeGiven toReadersBased on the psycholinguisticinteractive view of reading,some studies suppliedparticipants with prior knowledge, vocabularyor other forms such aspictures to see how itaffects the reading comprehensionof culture-specific texts. Somestudies experimentallycontrolthe amount of backgroundknowledge with adult readers(Gatbonton & Tucker, 1971;Johnson,1982). Other studies experimentallycontrolled the type of backgroundknowledge with adultreaders (Adams, 1982; Carrel!,1983a; Floyd & Carrell, 1987;Hudson, 1982; Lee,1986b;Omaggio, 1979; Ridgway, 1997).No studies were undertaken withelementary students as91participants.Johnson (1982) conducted a study on advanced level English second language universitystudents in reading. Participants had to read a text which contained sections of familiar andunfamiliar information about Halloween. Four groups of participants read the text with varyingtreatment conditions. Group 1 read a passage without a list of important vocabulary. Group 2studied the definitions of target words before reading the passage. This group did not have thedefinitions while reading the text. Group 3 studied the target words before reading the text withkey vocabulary also defined in the text. Group 4 had the benefit of prior study of worddefinitions as well as the words defined in the passage. University students were asked toparticipate in free recall and recognition tasks. Johnson (1982) found that cultural familiarity(i.e., knowledge about Halloween) was a more reliable predictor of recall performance than text-specific vocabulary knowledge among advanced English as second language learners. Readersrecalled more propositions from the familiar than the unfamiliar portions of the text. Directexperience with the holiday festivities was more important to making familiar information easierto understand in a text. Johnson (1982) also found that varying the amount of vocabularyexposure did not produce a significant effect on recall. These conclusions matched those studiesin English as a first language (Bransford & Johnson, 1973; Stevens, 1982).Other studies experimentally controlled the type of background knowledge with adultreaders (Adams, 1982; Carrell, 1983a; Floyd & Carrell, 1987; Hudson, 1982; Lee, 1986b;Omaggio, 1979; Ridgway, 1997). Several studies supplied readers with pictorial support toprovide background knowledge (Adams, 1982; Carrell, 1983a; Hudson, 1982; Omaggio, 1979),Results of these studies were contradictory.Both Omaggio (1979) and Adams (1982) found that the presence of a picture facilitatedcomprehension in a second language. Hudson (1982) also found differential impacts of such92support. Pictorial support appeared to be more efficacious for beginning and intermediatelearners but a read/reread strategy was the most profitable for advanced students. In a relatedstudy, Carrel! (1 983a) found no impact on the recall stories of second language readers whetherthey had pictorial support or not. Carrell (1983a) further argued that induced schemata cancompensate for many negative effects of participants’ limitations in second language proficiencyor limited ability of lower level reading skills.Supplying participants prior or during reading with specific cultural vocabulary does notseem to enhance comprehension of adult second language readers. Supplying readers withpictorial support has also led to contradictory results.2.2.6.3.3 Topic Familiarity and Related Proficiency LevelStudies examined the background knowledge component of topic with adults in relationof reading comprehension (Alderson & Urquhart, 1988; Carrell & Wallace, 1983; Mohammed &Swales, 1984; Nunan, 1985; Olah, 1984; Zuck & Zuck, 1984). Topic familiarity most often wasa greater predictor of comprehension ability than text-based linguistic factors such as syntacticease or explicit vocabulary knowledge. Sometimes individual vocabulary words — out of context— were misinterpreted when an understanding of a text was inexact. Incorrect schemata activatedmisinterpreted context as shown by incorrect word definitions.Garcia (1991) conducted a study with elementary second language Grade 5 and 6students. Garcia reported that even when Spanish-American speaking and monolingualAnglophone Grade 5 and 6 students had been in the same English-speaking classrooms for twoyears, they significantly differed in background knowledge for standardized reading test passagesin English. The Spanish-American participants appeared to have less knowledge of specifictopics. When differences in prior knowledge were controlled for, there was no significantdifference in the two groups of participants’ reading test performance. The Spanish-American93participants still scored significantly more poorly on questions that required them to usebackground knowledge. Garcia (1991) tested to see if the below average readers’ literalinterpretation of the text was due to the type of instruction they had received. Interview data witha subsample of the participants indicated that unfamiliar English vocabulary was the major factorthat adversely affected the Spanish participants’ reading test performance in English.Similar results were found in other studies that examined the specific relationshipbetween cultural schemata and vocabulary with younger readers (Campbell, 1981; Droop &Verhoeven, 1998a; Jiménez et al., 1995, 1996). Campbell (1981) concluded that the majordifference between learners is in the contextual area of reading. Absorbing the language andculture of the society in which the subject lives gave the native speaker a definite advantage inreading English texts. When the contextual framework is largely supplied within school situationand the language of the text is literal, the English as a second language learner coped adequately.Topic interest may also be an important element to consider in the investigation of therole of second language cultural knowledge in reading comprehension. Several studies haveexamined diverse elements affecting the use of prior knowledge during second language textcomprehension including second language proficiency (Hammadou, 1991; Ridgway, 1997). Theresearch has focused on factors such as topic interest to explain the reported links between priorknowledge and comprehension. Contrary to first language studies (for example Adams, Bell, &Perfetti, 1995; Anderson et al., 1977; Pearson et al., 1979; Stevens, 1980), second languagestudies (such as Bugel & Buunk, 1996; Carrell & Wise, 1998; Hammadou, 1990, 1991; LeLoup,1993; Ridgway, 1997) that addressed comprehension relating to topic interest foundcontradictory results.Readers’ interest has been shown to positively influence second language readingcomprehension for high school students in some studies (Bugel & Buunk, 1996; Hammadou,941991; LeLoup, 1993). Other research has tended to confound prior knowledge and topic interestunder the label of ‘topic familiarity’ (Hammadou, 1991). Carrell and Wise (1998) found that “theapparent impact of topic interests on reading comprehension is in reality a result of the fact thatpeople tend to have more prior knowledge about topics in which they are interested”(p.286).Several factors have been shown to affect the comprehension of culture specific text ofsecond language readers. These include lack of knowledge of culturally determined knowledgein addition to the linguistic complexity (the level of syntactic and/or semantic complexity), thenature of the text used to test for reading comprehension (expository texts appearing to be moredifficult than narrative texts) and the topic interest. When choosing reading comprehension textswith cultural emphasis, particular attention needs to be paid to the interest that topic participantsof both gender may have interest. This can be especially important if the interest content has agreater effect on average and below average readers. This may relate directly to the case ofsecond language readers, such as in the French immersion context, compared to first languagereaders.From the theoretical framework and the empirical research presented, several conclusionscan be drawn.Reading comprehension is a complex process that evolves through the interplay ofnumerous variables. Reading comprehension is an interactive and constructive process.Interactive models strongly imply that many lower level processing skills are needed for readingwords and comprehending what is read. This literature review has highlighted studies thatcharacterized reading as a complex, interactive and compensatory process involving cognitive,linguistic and cultural components. The review further identified a number of challenges to95second language young readers by discussing key variables that seem to influence word readingand reading comprehension.In addition, phonological awareness predicts word decoding. Phonemic awareness wasfound to predict word decoding and word reading in French as a second language. However,phonological awareness did not predict reading comprehension in French as a first language.Phonemic awareness, in general, explained only a small percentage of the variance of readingcomprehension in Grades 2 and 3 in French immersion. In English as a first language spelling,verbal working memory, vocabulary and morphology were the best predictors of readingcomprehension.Morphological awareness was found to predict French word reading and readingcomprehension in French as a first language. Morphological awareness also predicted Frenchword reading in the French immersion context. In one study in the French immersion context,verbal working memory was a better predictor of reading comprehension. Most of the studiesmentioned were done in a francophone context, which is different than the French immersioncontext in British Columbia.Second language cultural knowledge has also been identified as an important predictor ofreading comprehension in second language. Having second language cultural knowledge impliesbetter reading comprehension and the cultural origin of text has greater effect on readingcomprehension than its linguistic complexity. Second language readers scored higher on recallrecalled if the text used in testing was culturally more familiar. From interview data in one study,it was found that comprehension was affected by a lack of second language cultural vocabulary.The question of second language cultural knowledge as a variable has not been studied to date inthe context of French immersion and is an area requiring further investigation. In the presentstudy, second language cultural knowledge, as defmed in section 2.2.6.2, is the cultural96vocabulary that reflects the thoughts, practices, beliefs, values, customs, courtesies, rituals,manners of interacting and roles, relationships and expected behaviors of the francophoneculture. Second language cultural knowledge is ofparticular importance as French immersionstudents are faced with difficulty with content material they have to read when doing assignedexercises.Therefore, it is intended that the present study will investigate the role of secondlanguage cultural knowledge in French immersion Grade 3 students’ reading comprehension andin relation to the other variables. The following section outlines the significance of Bemhardt’ s(2005) compensatory model ofsecond language reading for this research.2.3 Significance of the Model for the Present StudyIn light of the empirical research conducted in second language, Bemhardt’s (2005)model is especially significant for the present study in several areas: (a) the issue of language inreading models, (b) the conceptualization of reading comprehension, (c) the characterization ofculture, and (d) the assessment in a second language.The first area relates to the issue of language in reading models. Although the field ofsecond language has progressed tremendously in the past 20 years, research often employedmodels of reading which had always been based on English first language models (Ebri, 1999;Goodman, 1968, 1988; Gough, 1972; Kintsch, 1998b; LaBerge & Samuels, 1974; Rumelhart,1980). Researchers were biased to a degree to surface structure inherent in the English languageand not in the second language, which may differ. The models of second language reading,especially in the early French immersion context where students start learning the secondlanguage in Kindergarten, cannot be an imitation of English first language research and models.Bemhardt’ s (2005) compensatory model ofsecond language reading accounts for secondlanguage literacy knowledge.97A second significant area relates to the conceptualization of comprehension as consistingof different elements and influences. In particular, the types of inferential comprehension skillsdemonstrated by readers have often been omitted in other research (Troike, 1978; Willig, 1985).This omission is not surprising, given that most test writers do not always delineate how theyhave defined comprehension, even though they may have included different types of questionson their tests (Pearson & Johnson, 1978; Trabasso, 1981). According to Koda (2005), post-reading comprehension requiring specific text-explicit information can be answered by locating aword or a phrase. However, comprehension requiring text-implicit information necessitatesdeeper understanding because it involves iriferencing. “Comprehension can become even moredemanding when readers are expected to expand on text-meaning” (p. 330). Bernhardt’s (2005)model accounts for text-implicit comprehension drawing on textual and cultural inferences. Thecompensatory model ofsecond language reading examines variables to provide a betterunderstanding of the more implicit and potentially long-term impact that culture has on secondlanguage readers’ goals and motivations. Bemhardt’s (2005) model provides methods to visiblymeasure or observe students’ comprehension as authors’ intentions are internalized andinterpreted. Bernhardt’s (2005) model is significant as it supports the importance of investigatingin detail what the authors’ intentions and goals are behind the text, as well as the students’reactions and interpretations of that text. Such an investigation can uncover any divergencesbetween what the author is trying to say and what the students are making of the text. Thisinvestigation can build on a recent impetus in second language research to incorporate learners’views and perceptions in the textBemhardt’s (2005) model is also significant as it moves away from characterizing cultureas isolated from the language context in which it occurs. Language learners necessarily becomelearners of the culture associated with the text because a language caiinot be learned without an98understanding of the culture context in which it is used. Cultural learning takes place as anintegral part of language learning. Bernhardt’ s model allows readers to engage with the secondlanguage culture that is strengthened by a better understanding of what is going on below thesurface of the text. The model takes into account how students engage with the text and becomeculturally aware. Bernhardt’s compensatory model ofsecond language reading suggests thatlearners become aware that the second language is a means of communication of culturalattitudes as expressed in language. Cultural awareness can be developed through a combinationof topic content and knowledge of linguistic conventions in which learners reflect on similaritiesand contrasts of cultures and on language as a tool for communication. It can be derived from themodel that language and culture acquisition are inseparable. To separate language and culture isto imply that a foreign language can be treated in the early years as if it were self-contained andindependent of other socio-cultural phenomena. The impact of culture on language learning anduse is also important. “If language is seen as social practice, culture becomes the very core oflanguage teaching. Cultural awareness must be viewed both as enabling language proficiencyand as being the outcome of reflection on language proficiency” (Kramsch, l993p. 8).The significance of Bernhardt’ s (2005) compensatory model ofsecond language readinglies also in the assessment in the second language. The language assessment with secondlanguage populations is a critical factor (Shohamy, 1982, 1984). If readers are assessed incomprehension tasks in their stronger language, comprehension seems to be much moresignificant than when it is measured within the context of their second language skills. Strongerlanguage skills are almost always first language. Second language skills are often seen asimpoverished. However, the French immersion context is different.In the early French immersion programme, students are taught to read in French as theyare starting to speak the language. Students are taught literacy skills in French before receiving99formal literacy instruction in English (Genesee, 2007). French immersion students deal also withinformal English literacy learning both at home and in their communities. Second languagereaders use or attempt to use as many of the same processes as native speakers. Because ofdecoding problems “the harmony between top-down and bottom-up processing is disturbed”(Wolff, 1987,p.313). There also seems to be a certain level of language proficiency belowwhich second language readers are unable to use their first language abilities efficiently. Thedifference here must lie in the fact that proficient first language speakers recognize almost all thevocabulary in a text. They are then able to guess the meaning or any unknown words fromcontext (Johnson, 1981). Low second language level speakers know so little vocabulary that theyare not in position to make use of context.It also seems that for second language readers, background knowledge and content orformal structure play an essential part in reading comprehension. Cultural and contentknowledge may be more important than knowledge of form (morphology and syntax) forcomprehension. This may be the case for advanced level learners but at lower levels of languagelearning, knowledge of morphology and syntax might be expected to have a much strongereffect. As Bernhardt (1990) posited earlier “as a reader’s linguistic knowledge grows it begins tooverride knowledge-driven inferencing” (p. 22). Readers begin to rely more on the language andless on what they think the language contains. Therefore, it is important to assess Frenchimmersion students employing a range of procedures that account for variables impactingreading comprehension in a second language to be revealed as in Bernhardt’s (2005)compensatory model ofsecond language reading.The present research intends to use Bemhardt’s (2005) compensatory model ofsecondlanguage reading theoretical framework as a guide to better understand the role of some100variables identified in the model that come to play when French immersion readers seek tocomprehend a text.A comprehensive examination of the empirical research in reading comprehension and inparticular the compensatory model ofsecond language reading proposed by Bemhardt (2005)has led to the identification of five variables. These include phonological awareness, spelling,verbal working memory, vocabulary, morphological awareness and second language culturalknowledge. Although spelling was not included in Bemhardt’s model, it is included in thepresent study to replicate a previous study on reading words (Bournot-Trites & Denizot, 2005a).Spelling will enable to establish its predictive value of word reading in the context of Frenchimmersion. Although Bernhardt’s model does not explicitly identify memory as a predictorvariable, it does not exclude it either. The model allows testing text comprehension throughimmediate oral recall which in part relies on memory. In the present study, comprehension oftexts with cultural emphasis was assessed using both comprehension questions and immediateoral recall. Verbal working memory was used as an independent variable to verify its predictivevalue of reading comprehension in the context of French immersion.The goal of the present study was to shed light on the role of different variables inreading comprehension in second language. The variables, which are the focus of this research,were chosen for three reasons. First, they are prevalent in reading comprehension in reference tothe compensatory model ofsecond language reading proposed by Bemhardt (2005). Second, thecontribution of some of these variables to reading comprehension remains unexplained in secondlanguage. Third, these variables remain a controversial topic in the area of second languagereading. This is especially the case concerning French immersion. These variables have not yetbeen considered in French immersion reading research. An examination and study of thesevariables will form the basis of the research questions of the present study.1012.4 Research QuestionsThe purpose of the present study was to examine the predictors of word reading andreading comprehension of French immersion students. A complete review of the theory andempirical research was undertaken. By examining word reading, reading comprehension,phonological awareness, spelling, verbal working memory, morphological awareness,vocabulary and second language cultural knowledge skills of students in the early Frenchimmersion programme, four questions in the area of early reading development guided thisprogramme of study. Following this literature review, the four research questions can beformulated more precisely.1. What is the best predictor of word reading among phonological awareness, spelling,verbal working memory, vocabulary and morphological awareness in Grade 3 Frenchimmersion students?2. What is the best predictor of reading comprehension among phonological awareness,spelling, verbal working memory, vocabulary and morphological awareness in Grade3 French immersion students?3. What is the relative role of second language cultural knowledge compared tophonological awareness, spelling, verbal working memory, vocabulary andmorphological awareness in Grade 3 French immersion students’ readingcomprehension?4. What do French immersion students perceive as different in the culturally less andmore familiar text that affected their reading comprehension and which culturalcontext do they prefer and why?102CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGYThe study was conducted with a group of Grade 3 French immersion students in twoelementary public schools in the same school district in British Columbia in order to address thefour research questions.3.1 Research Setting3.1.1 The French Immersion ProgrammeIn British Columbia, French immersion programmes fall under two categories: earlyandlate immersion. In early immersion students enrol in Kindergarten when they are5 years old. Inlate immersion students begin in Grade 6 or 7 when they are 11 to 12 years old.In both cases,the language of instruction is exclusively in French, although the mother tongueof the studentsmay be English or another language.The research for this study was conducted in two schools within the context of theearlyFrench immersion programme in British Columbia. In the two schools, Frenchimmersioncurriculum is instructed 100% in French from Kindergarten tothe end of Grade 3. From Grade 4to 7, instruction is 50% French. At the high school level, from Grade 8 to 10, instructionis 40%French. This percentage of French instruction declines to 25% in Grade 11 andto 12.5% inGrade 12.3.1.2 Research SiteThe research took place in two elementary public schools (six divisions)in the greaterVancouver area in the province of British Columbia. The twoschools were in the samegeographic area and were from the same socioeconomic status range. Informationobtainedverbally from the principals of the two schools and data retrieved from censustract profile forthe area (Statistics Canada, 2006b) confirmed that the participants were of similarbut medium103socioeconomic status compared to the national and provincial median income of all censusfamilies (Statistics Canada, 2006a). Socioeconomic status was determined in terms of medianincome of all census families and education attainment (university certificate, diploma or degreeobtained).In the past three years, the examiner has also helped supervise the testing of reading ofFrench immersion students from Kindergarten to Grade 2 in one school and from Grade1 toGrade 3 in the other school. The choice of the two research sites was motivatedby the fact thatthe principals and some of the teachers in the two French immersion schools hadalreadyexpressed interest in this research. Relationships and experiences with staff, studentsand thedaily workings of the two schools have added and enriched the present research in Grade3French immersion.3.1.3 ParticipantsThe study was undertaken with 72 Grade 3 students of the early French immersionprogramme. The number of consent forms initially sent to parents was 84.Out of the 84 potentialparticipants, 10 parents did not consent to their child’s participation. The responserate was88.09% (74/84). Among the 10 parents that did not consent to their child’s participation,threeparents were working at the University and were against testing as a principle.The rest of theparents were equally first and second language speakers. There was no participantselection bias.Two students became sick after being tested on two tasks (grouptesting). The attrition rate was2.7% (2/74) which is below the 20% acceptable rate (Goodrich & St-Pierre, 1979).Only 72participants remained in the study and were tested.Of the 72 participants in Grade 3, 41 were girls and 31 boys. The mean chronologicalageof the sample was 107.68 months (8 years and 11 months) with a standard deviationof 11.38104months. Participants came from two schools and six divisions in the same School District in thegreater Vancouver area. Table 1 summarizes the number of participants by gender.Table 1Grade, Number ofSchools, Divisions, Particzants, Gender; and Average Age. . . . . . AverageGrade Schools Divisions Participants Girls BoysAge (months)3 2 6 72 41 31 107.683.1.4 DesignAll participants were tested individually in one session in the spring of their Grade 3 year.They were 45 English as first language participants. The 27 participants with English as a secondlanguage in this study came from divergent linguistic backgrounds. All participants spokeEnglish although some participants had a first language other than English. Overall, the secondlanguage of the participants in this study represented 13 native languages. The participants spokea variety of first languages. They were grouped into language families as follows: Chinese group(Cantonese, Mandarin, Thai), Slavic group (Hungarian, Russian, Serbian), Arabic group (Arabic,Farsi), German group (German), Japanese group (Japanese, Korean), and Romance group(Portuguese, Spanish). Another group was composed of English native speakers (English).Mandarin, Cantonese and Russian were the predominant first languages among Englishassecond language participants. The participants in this research constituted a representativesample in terms of gender and linguistic background of a growing proportion of studentspresently enrolled in early French immersion schools in British Columbia. Table 2 belowsummarizes the number of participants by language group in order of descending frequencies.105Table 2Frequency and Percentage ofFirst Language SpokenLanguage Group N%English 45 62.5Chinese 12 16.7Slavic 6 8.4Arabic 3 4.2German 2 2.8Japanese 2 2.8Romance 2 2.8Note: Language groups are represented as follows: English (English),Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Thai), Slavic (Hungarian, Russian,Serbian), Arabic (Arabic, Farsi), German (German), Japanese(Japanese, Korean), and Romance (Portuguese, Spanish).3.2 Ethical ConsiderationThe present study strictly followed the University of British Columbia ApplicationforBehavioural Ethical Review research guidelines precisely in order to ensure theresearch wouldbe conducted in an ethically responsible way. An application to conduct research wasapprovedby the University of British Columbia Behavioural Research Ethics Board as well asbyindividual district committees in order to gain access by the researcher(see Appendix A). Theresearcher also sought approval to conduct research in each school district throughan applicationmade to the relevant school district. Letters and an information package weresent through e-mailto each school administrator and the targeted grade level French immersion teacherwhose classwas involved in the testing. The information package included the following:(a) TheDevelopment ofReading Skills in French Immersion document with the purpose,objective,rationale, questions and hypotheses, procedure, tasks of the study and howdata were to be106collected and recorded, (b) a List ofExperimental Tasks and Standardized Tests, and (c) anInformed Consent Form detailing the investigator’s name, the purpose and procedures of thestudy, confidentiality and contact information. Letters to parents of each participant was sent torequest consent for their child to undertake the test. The informed consent procedures for allparticipants ensured questions and information concerning the study was shared. Participantswere also asked for assent before testing was administered (see Appendix B).The purpose and procedures of this research was clearly stated to all prospectiveparticipants through their parents. This was done to protect participants as participation in thisresearch was presented as strictly voluntary. No pressure of any kind was placed on prospectiveparticipants to participate. Participants were allowed to terminate their involvement with thestudy at any time without suffering any penalty.At all times data collected in this research was treated as confidential. All participantswere assigned numbers by the researcher to protect their anonymity and ensure confidentiality.Access to raw data was limited to the researcher only. The one exception to this allowedparticipants and parents access to their own data upon request.The importance that the relationship established between researchers and informantsbebuilt on trust and openness was addressed prior to undertaking the research. It was made veryclear to teachers, parents and participants that this research was not to be used to test or evaluatethe ability to teach students. The goal of the research was also not an attempt to discoverdeficiencies in individual teaching methods or the reading comprehension of tested participants.The goal was to provide a detailed report of what contributes to reading comprehensionofFrench immersion Grade 3 students. In no way did the research result in the evaluationof anyindividual or student performance. What was attempted was the production of a useful account,not only for researchers but also for teachers and students, of the variables that contribute to107reading comprehension of French immersion Grade 3 students and how these fit in with thelarger context in which they emerge. The researcher did not anticipate any perceived risks toparticipants and addressed, explained and dealt with ethical dilemmas and questions in theresearch project prior to beginning the present research.3.3 MeasuresSeveral measures of language skills shown as contributing to reading development in theresearch literature were used.In the present study, three categories of measures corresponding to Bernhardt’s (2005)three dimensional model were used: (a)first language literacy knowledge, (b) second languageknowledge, and (c) hypothetical variables (see section 3.3.10 Figure 2). As discussed in section2.1.3.1, measuring the participants’ literacy knowledge only in their first language would nottake into account what the participants learned in schools in their second language, French(Boumot-Trites et al., In preparation). Some of the first language knowledge is transferredtoFrench language literacy knowledge (e.g., phonological awareness and morphologicalawareness). For the purpose of the present research, second or additional (French) languageknowledge was measured instead of first language knowledge.Second language literacy knowledge measures comprise phonological awareness andspelling. Second language knowledge measures include morphological awareness, vocabularyknowledge and verbal working memory. The measures corresponding to the hypotheticalvariables of Bernhardt’s model are second language cultural knowledge and students’engagement towards texts read.Literacy was measured through word reading, reading comprehensionof isolatedsentences and reading comprehension of narrative texts with cultural emphasis. Post-measure108interviews were conducted to determine which narrative text participants perceived as beingeasier to read. Participants’ engagement in the texts read was also evaluated.Phonological awareness was assessed using syllabic tasks (French initial and finalsyllable deletion) and a phonemic task (French middle phoneme deletion). Other measuresincluded spelling, verbal working memory (Digit Span - Digits Forward and Digits Backward),vocabulary (EVIP), morphological awareness, second language cultural knowledge, wordreading and reading comprehension. Reading comprehension was assessed using isolatedsentences with pictorial support and narrative texts with cultural emphasis. Interviews were alsoconducted to determine what participants perceived as different cultural elements in the culturaltexts that affected their reading comprehension and how they engaged towards the passages read.Sections 3.3.1 to 3.3.9 will present the various measures and the interview.3.3.1 Word ReadingFrench word reading was assessed with the French Immersion Assessment Test (FL4T).The child was administered the Word IdentjfIcation Subtest of the FIAT — Lecture de mots(Wormeli & Ardanaz, 1987). The participant was asked to read isolated French words fromsimple to more complex (see Appendix C), including both single and multiple morpheme words(e.g., vite, demandait, avantageux).Each item was scored 1, or 0 as follows: (a) 1 point if the word was read correctly, and(b) 0 points if the word was read incorrectly. The basal level was reached aftersix correctconsecutive responses. The task was discontinued after six consecutive errors. The raw score wasthe number of correct items plus the number of items below the basal level. The maximum scoreon this task was 86 points. The raw score was used for the analysis.Internal consistency reliabilities were calculated using Hoyt’s ANOVA in accordancewith the Canada FIAT manual (Wormeli & Ardanaz, 1987). Twenty of the twenty-six109coefficients have reliability values of .80 or better and are deemed adequate for a screeningachievement test (Wormeli & Ardanaz, 1987, p. 23). For the FIAT WordidentUication Subtest(Subtest 3) in Grade 3, the reliability coefficient was .96. For reliability purposes, the internal-consistency reliability for the sample of the present study was calculated using Cronbach’s alpha.This test had a good level of reliability (Cronbach’s a = .96). Standard errors of measurementwere obtained and indicated the expected band of error surrounding a raw score. The actual valuefor the FIAT WordIdentWcationSubtest in Grade 3 is 2.69. The standard error of measurementalso indicated the chance at about two-third that the participant obtained a scaled score within2.69 scaled-score points of his/her true score. That is the average score a participant wouldobtain if he/she was tested a large number of times and if the effects of practice, fatigue andothers, are ruled out.When administered by competent personnel the Canada FIAT may be consideredas avalid measure of the achievement of Early French immersion students. The Canada FIAT meetsthe following criteria. It was normed on pupils who were enrolled in early French immersionclasses across Canada. For content validity, reading and spelling test tasks and materials wereselected and/or designed from basal readers that where then widely used in Language ArtsInstruction Early French immersion classrooms across Canada. Empirical validity evidence wasinvestigated during a 1987 validation study. This resulted in the conclusion that the CanadaFIAT satisfactorily identifies students who are eligible for referral to remedial services.Once thenorms had been established, the Grade 2 and Grade 5 subtests were administered to studentsfrom three different school districts in British Columbia. The sample included students whorequired remedial learning assistance and students who did not The mean and standarddeviationfor the remedial students were 7.6 and 3.3, and for the non-remedial students 9.3 and 4.1respectively, in reference to the norms in Grade 2.1103.3.2 Reading ComprehensionFrench reading comprehension was assessed in two ways: (a) reading comprehension ofisolated sentences (Khomsi, 1999), and (b) reading comprehension of two narrative texts withcultural emphasis through a free recall measure, and literal and inferential comprehensionquestions. Each will be further described in the following sections 3.3.2.1 and 3.3.2.2.3.3.2.1 Reading Comprehension of Isolated SentencesFrench reading comprehension of isolated sentences was assessed using! ‘Epreuved ‘evaluation de la competence en lecture — Révisée (LMC-R), Comprehension en lecture(Khomsi, 1999). The participant was administered the reading comprehension subtest of theComprehension immediate (CI). The Comprehension immediate (C]) subtest consisted of 21sentences for CE2 (Cours Elémentaire Deuxième Année) which “corresponds to the thirdprimary grade in France for children of an average age of 8 years and 4 months” (Khomsi,1999,p.1, footnote 1, Translation by author).The rationale for choosing the Comprehension Immediate (C]) subtest rather than theComprehension Globale (CG) subtest is that the latter is the longer version of the comprehensionsubtest given to Grade 4 and 5 students in France. The rationale for choosing the CE2 level(Cours Elémentaire Deuxième Année) rather than the next level, CM] (Cours Moyen PremiereAnnée) for students of an average age of 9 years and 5 months was twofold. First, althoughtheparticipants in this study had an average age of 8 years and 11 months, the CMJ level is for olderindividuals with an average year of 9 years and 5 months. Second, participants are in the Frenchimmersion programme where French instruction is considered as Frenchas a second language.Therefore, the CE2 level best corresponded to the participants in this study.This task was evaluated through an approach of comprehension strategies: imagery(imagee) or inferential (inferentielle) content. This task is different than most common tasks of111comprehension that involve remembering or questions after reading and whichare dependent onthe capacity to memorize, making the interpretation difficult (Khomsi, 1990).This subtest wassubdivided in two different types of items presented randomly on Picture Plates withfourpictures for each item: (a) 16 imagery (imagee) content statements (Ig),and (b) 5 inferential(inferentielle) content statements(jJ).For the 16 imagery content statements (Ig), a representation correspondingto a mentalimage can be constructed from the reading or the hearing of the statement.For example, in thesentence ‘Je mange les cerises que maman cueille’ (I eat the cherriesthat mom is picking) thereader can construct an imagery representation. The two actionsare simultaneous and theparticipant can identifr the picture where the two actions are representedsimultaneously(Khomsi, 1999). In this task, the participant read aloud or read silentlythe sentence written. Onepicture was chosen among four that best represented the meaning of thesentence. The participanteither pointed to the correct picture or gave the numberof the picture (1, 2, 3, or 4) thatrepresented the sentence (see Appendix D).The 5 inferential content statements (If) implied that the simple constructionof animagery representation was impossible or was not sufficientto make a choice. The participantneeded to infer to choose the correct picture. For example,in the sentence ‘Le chat dont j ‘ai tirela queue m’a griffé’ (The cat whose tail Ipulled scratchedme), the reader needed to infer that itwas the final stage (follow up and consequence) of two actions includedin the sentence that wasthe correct answer. In this task, the participant read aloud or silentlythe sentence written andchose one picture among four that best represented the meaningof the sentence. The participanteither pointed to the correct picture or gave the numberof the picture (1, 2, 3, or 4) thatrepresented the sentence. Two practice items, correspondingto each type of content statements,112Ig or ij were given prior to administering the test, and the examiner gaveinstruction andcorrective feedback at this time.Each item was scored 1, or 0 as follows: (a) 1 point for choosing the correct picturecorresponding to the meaning ofthe sentence, and (b) 0 points for choosingan incorrect picturecorresponding to the meaning of the sentence. The imagery (imagee)content statement (Ig)category accounted for a total of 16 points and the inferential (inférentielle)content statement (If)category accounted for a total of 5 points. The maximum score on thistask was 21 points. Theraw score was used for the analysis.The reading comprehension subtest - Comprehensionen lecture — Comprehensionimmediate subtest of the Epreuve d ‘evaluation de la competence en lecture(Khomsi, 1999) wasnormed in 1998 in France with 614 French natives fromages 7 to 12 years in Grades 2 to 7.Specifically, 285 students of the Cours Elémentaire (CE) — equivalentto Grade 2 and 3 (CEJand CE2), 241 students ofthe Cours Moyen (CM) equivalentto Grades 4 and 5 (CMJ and CM2),88 students of Sième année equivalent to Grade 7, and 74 students in remedialclasses. Meansand standard deviations were calculated for each part of the subtest, imagery(imagee) vs.inferential (inférentielle) at each grade level. The meanswere fairly linear and standarddeviations important but relatively stable, varying between 2.1 and 2.7.No reliability coefficientswere provided.“LMC-R is a clinical tool and the means and standard deviationsare only given on aninformation basis as the author’s first intention isto have details about students in thebottom of the distribution to better understand their reading comprehensiondifficulties.Percentiles enabled to construct graphic profiles.” (Personalcommunication betweenDemzot and Khomsi, February 19, 2007, Translationby author)For reliability purposes, the internal-consistency reliability for thesample of the presentstudy was calculated using Cronbach’s alpha. Thistest had an acceptable level of reliability(Cronbach’s a = .69), though it adds some noise to the power of the hypothesistest results.113Content validity was supported by selection of test tasks and materials designed from basalreaders that were used widely in French Language Arts Instruction classrooms in France.Construct validity was supported by gradual increases over age in percentage of participants whoresponded correctly to an item. Concurrent validity was established against the LMC-R and theECS (Evaluation des Compétences Scolaires) test (Khomsi, 1997, 1998). Coefficient ofconcurrences of the LMC-R/ECS-II scores for immediate comprehension (ComprehensionImmediate - CI) was .415 (p < .01) in Grade 2 (CE]) and of the LMC-RJECS-III scores forimmediate comprehension (CI) were .592 (p < .000 1) in Grade 3 (CE2), the highest, whicharemoderate to large correlations.Empirical validity evidence was investigated during the 1998 validation study. Theimmediate comprehension (CI) score, the short version of the comprehension subtest giventoGrades 2 and 3, rises dramatically between Grade 2 (CE]) and Grade 3 (CE2). This trendmoderates in higher grades.“The immediate comprehension part of the reading comprehension subtestcorresponds toits finality: to evaluate reading comprehension for imagery types statements, the mostsimple for the children of younger ages. It enables to identify, in Grades 2 and3 (CE]and CE2), important individual differences, and the analysis of incorrectanswers shouldenable ... to establish the difficulties related to reading comprehension.” (Khomsi, 1999,p.18, Translation by author)The immediate comprehension subtest satisfactorily identifies students who are eligiblefor referral to remedial services. The comprehension subtest has been used in a bilingualcontextby Demont (2001) in a study of 43 Grade 1 students (20 Francophone and 21French-Germanbilinguals). Demont’s (2001) study was designed to validate the effects of second languagelearning on children’s linguistic awareness.1143.3.2.2 Reading Comprehension of Narrative Texts with Cultural EmphasisThe reading comprehension of narrative texts with cultural emphasis task was designed toexamine how much the participants recalled from reading two narrative texts. Participants hadalso to answer comprehension questions based on the two narrative texts, which are describedfollowing (see Appendix E).3.3.2.2.1 PassagesThe texts were script-based contrived narrative passages. A narrative was embedded in acommunicative interchange between the writer and the reader.“Narratives are expressions of event-based experiences that (a) are either stored inmemory or cognitively constructed, (b) are selected by the teller/writer to transmit to theaudience/reader, and (c) are organized in knowledge structures that can be anticipated bythe audience.” (Barr, Kamil, Mosenthal, & Pearson, 1991,p.174)The narrative texts were written specifically for this study in an attempt to provide Frenchimmersion students with a reading passage on a cultural topic. The topic of ‘lunch recess inelementary school’ was chosen to avoid any gender effect between boy and girl participants.One passage pertained to a more familiar Canadian scenario of lunch recess in a school. Theother passage pertained to a less familiar scenario of lunch recess in a school in France.The more familiar passage, ‘Le lunch’ [The lunch], was based on a scenario considered tobe routine and very familiar to participants. All participants were Grade 3 students in BritishColumbia who ate lunch at school and engaged in lunch time activities. The context wasdesigned to be more familiar as it was based on the participant’s daily experiences and culturalknowledge.The less familiar passage, ‘Le déjeuner’ [The lunch], was based on a scenario consideredto be routine but less familiar to participants as the setting was situated in a French elementaryschool in France. This country was chosen after determining that the participants typically knewvery little about France and in particular the culture of the country in regards to lunch recess at115an elementary school. This aspect was controlled by ensuring that participants indicated onapreliminary informal background check prior to the testing that they had no prior secondlanguage cultural knowledge of lunch recess at school in France.The task was developed by the researcher to make it more consistent with an approach ofto reading where a given task should be as authentic as possible by being relevantto life. In thisapproach, reading is seen as a communicative activity. The reader interacts not only withaspecific purpose of reading but also with ‘authentic texts’ as part of a specificsocial and culturalsituation. The stories were constructed around the most frequently occurring actionsand type offood and order of occurrence to reflect an ‘authentic situation’ as closely aspossible. Forpurposes of testing second language cultural knowledge through reading and its influenceonreading comprehension, culture had to be ‘stereotyped’ in order to differentiate between less andmore familiar culture.In keeping with the objective that the stories represented an everyday scenario,thecontent of the two stories was constructed using information found on websites. The actions thatoccurred within the more and less familiar stories were determined by gathering informationonelementary schools in British Columbia and France. Common aspects (time, food,activities) ofthese cultures to which Grade 3 students were exposed during lunch recess werecorrelated. Apooi of experts was consulted and asked to review each story for comment regardingculturalrelevance. This pool included three primary-school French immersion teachers and two primaryschool teachers in France. Four Ministry coordinators for French as a second languagein BritishColumbia and two researchers in the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Educationwerealso consulted and asked for comment on their cultural typicality. The interraterreliability washigh (Cronbach’s alpha of.95), indicating that the judges agreed to a large extent in their116decisions. The judges also made clear choices whether a text referredto either culture. Thisresult showed that it was possible to grade the texts with respectto their cultural reference.The common aspects (time, food, activities) of these cultures servedas the contextswithin which three categories of words were situated.A detailed explanation of the categoriesofthe cultural words, which served as the basis of the secondlanguage cultural knowledge task, isprovided in section 3.3.8. In terms of frequency, the wordswere found on the list of words thatshould be common to Grade 3 readers, or were amongthe most frequent words in Baudot’s(1992) Fréquences d’utilisation des mots enfrancaisécrit contemporain, edited in Montreal,Quebec, Canada. Both the more and less familiar storiesconformed to a temporally ordered setof activities pertinent to the scenario (see AppendixL). These activities referred to the natureofthe description of actions portrayed in the stories, wheresome actions typically precede othersatlunch recess in a school environment (i.e., havinglunch, cleaning, going out to play,etc.).Within each scenario there were particular roles andobjects associated with the actions involvedin the story. The culturally more familiar story was centeredaround a script purported to bestored in participants’ long term-memory (Graesser,Singer, & Trabasso, 1994; Schank&Abelson, 1977).The two stories were written to correspond to theparticipants’ current grade level. Thepassages conformed to the narrative schema following key aspectsof text organization anddiscourse features of narrative text: where, who, when,what, outcome. Narrative texts werechosen over expository texts. Narrative textspose less challenge than expository texts becausethey are less varied and complex (Williams, Hall, Lauer,Stafford, DeSisto, & deCani, 2005).The final version of each story wasin general of similar sentence and text length and structurallycomparable. Each story consisted of four paragraphs.Each of the two passages was subjectedtoa semantic propositional analysis (see Appendix F). Accordingto the results of theses analyses,117each of the passages contained the same number of main, supporting and detailedpropositionsand clauses headed by ‘que’ [relative clause] and connecting words. The connecting wordsvaried depending on the differences in the nature of actions and/or the greaterdegree of personalinteractions involved in the scenario. Table 3 provides a comparative analysisof the various textfeatures of each story.118Table 3Comparison ofCultural PassagesLess Familiar More FamiliarNumber of Words 140 135Average Sentence Length 13.30 12.09Idea of Unit Analysis 73 73Main Ideas (weight x3) 27 27Supporting Ideas (weight x2) 22 22Details (weight xl) 24 24Connecting Words 14 14Que 1 1Pour 2 2Et 5 4Sans 1 1Avec 1 1Ensuite 1 1Pendant que 1 0Entre 1 0Quand 1 0Aussi 0 1Si 0 1Avant de 0 1Car 0 1119The reading comprehension of narrative texts with cultural emphasis task was measuredon the basis of two layers of meaning crucial to understanding which lead the readerto the wholemeaning of the text: explicit meaning of the text (who? what? where?) and implicit meaningofthe text (why? how?). The reading comprehension of narrative texts with culturalemphasis taskhad two sub-parts: (a) a free recall measure, and (b) answering literal and inferentialcomprehension questions. Participants were asked to read one narrative passagefirst.Participants were then asked to recall verbally as much as they could fromthe passage. They alsoanswered 5 literal questions on the passage. Each participant then read thesecond passagefollowing the same steps. The order of the texts was counterbalanced (halfof the student read thefirst narrative passage followed by the second one, and the other half readthe second narrativepassage first followed by the first one). Participants were then askedto compare the passages byanswering 3 inferential questions.3.3.2.2.2 Free Recall MeasureIn this sub-task participants were asked, after reading each story, to recallverbally asmuch as they could of the passage they had just read without referring backto it. Participantscould recall in French or in English, although French was encouraged. The maximumscore forthis sub-task was 87 points for each story. The raw score was usedfor the analysis.Both quantities and qualities (Barnett, 1986; Carrell, 1983c,1984a, l984b, 1985, 1987;Lee, 1986a, 1986b; Lee & Riley, 1990; Raymond, 1993) of the participants’ recallsof the textswas examined because they have traditionally been used as measuresof reading comprehensionin both first language and second language literature (e.g., Carrell, 1987; Floyd& Carrell, 1987;Johnson, 1981; McNamara, Kintsch, Songer, & Kintsch, 1996;Steffensen et a!., 1979).Each passage was first divided into idea units in preparation for scoring.A three-tieredhierarchy of idea units was used, including main, supporting anddetailed ideas. The recall120protocol scoring procedures (Johnson, 1970; Meyer, 1975a, 1975b) separate the recall ideasintoindividual items to arrive at total scores. The method of detennining quantitiesand qualities wasadapted from Pritchard (1990). An idea unit in the retelling is defined as “a word, a verborphrase with a stated or understood subject that, together with its modifiers,formed a single ideaunit” (Pritchard, 1990,p.278). The more common definition of idea units, using “functionalboundaries based on pausal acceptability” (Johnson, 1970,p.13), is based on surface structureconventions which ignore the semantic content of the text.This definition was less appropriatefor the present study.An idea unit was coded as ‘main’ if it represented the gist of the textpreserving itssemantic content (not necessarily the syntactic form) eventhough it was not a word-for-wordreiteration. An idea unit was coded as ‘supporting’if it represented an important element of thetext preserving its semantic content (not necessarily thesyntactic form). An idea unit was coded‘detailed’ if it represented a less important element of thetext preserving its semantic content(not necessarily the syntactic form) (see Appendix Ffor the semantic propositional breakdown ofthe two stories). A word count was made. The idea unitscorrectly recalled were judged to be theproduct of properly formed schemata in the subsequentanalysis. Idea units were identified,verified, rated and scored by the researcher and ten independentjudges prior to the study. Alljudges were native speakers of the French language. Five ofthe judges were French-Canadianand the other five judges were native to France. A mainidea was credited with three points, asupporting idea with two points and a detailed idea with one point.The maximum score for theidea units was 73 points for each story.In order to make sure that the total score was meaningful andappropriate, internalconsistency estimates were needed to supplement interrateragreement indices. Once all recalldata were recorded, the reliability for the coding was checked.To establish reliability of the121judgment of numbers of idea units, data from a randomly selected sample (20% of the totalsample population) was rated and coded by two judges from each culture — France and Canada—using the same coding scheme. For inter-rater reliability, the researcher,who is also a Frenchimmersion teacher (native of France), and another French immersion teacher (nativeof Quebec),who was trained to score participants’ recall protocols, scored 20 percentof all protocols. Theteacher scored the protocols using a template that had a list of idea unitsand connecting words.The scores were tested against the score given by the researcher for inter-rater reliability.Interjudge consensus was obtained between the two judges from eachculture in their ratings ofthe idea units. Reliability turned out to be .90(p < .01). For intra-rater reliability, the researcherscored again 20 percent of all the recall protocols after the completionof the first scoring. Thetwo scores were compared against each other using correlation analysis.Reliability turned out tobe.97p<.01).Connecting words reflecting the semantic content of a complexproposition in a text (i.e.,the predicate-argument schema) were identified adapting methodologiesused in Kintsch (1998b)for natiVe language reading and Barry and Lazarte (1998) for secondlanguage reading studies.Propositional analyses such as these represent the semantic content of thetext, rather than thesurface form of rhetorical organization of the passages. Sucha methodology for examiningcomprehension (in comparison of the sole use of surface structure ormultiple choiceinstruments) has received support stemming from the validity of propositions(Kintsch, 1998b).Each connecting word was worth one point for a total of 14 points foreach story.3.3.2.2.3 Comprehension Questions MeasureAfter reading a passage, each participant was asked to answer orally fiveliteral contentbased comprehension questions following the analysis of the narrative scheme(where, who,when, what, outcome). Once the participant had completed the free recalland answered the122literal comprehensionquestionsfor each passage,the participantwas askedto answerthreeinferentialcontent-basedquestionsbased onthe comparisonof the twopassages(why, how).The comprehensionquestionswere constructedand includedfor eachpassage accordingtoJohnston’s(1984) adaptationofPearsonand Johnson’s(1978) question-typetaxonomyto assessreading comprehension.A questionis consideredliteral ortextuallyexplicit whenthe questionand answerareparaphrasedfrom or foundin a singlesentence inthe text. Aquestionis consideredinferentialortextuallyimplicit whenthe questionand answerare not paraphrasedfrom or foundin a singlesentencebut are inferredin the passage.Asking twoother judgesto classifythe questionsindependentlycorroboratedthe assignmentof the questions,to eachofthe twocategories,literaland inferential.For each text,the score forthe literalquestionswas sevenpoints andfor theinferential questionsfive points,for a totalscore of 12points (seeAppendixE for a listofthequestions).The rawscore wasused for theanalysis.3.3.3 PhonologicalAwarenessParticipantswere administeredtwo measuresof phonologicalprocessing.The measuresincluded syllabicand phonemictasks adaptedfrom Gaux(1996)by Bournot-Tritesand Denizot(2005a) (seeAppendixG). Threepractice itemswere administeredprior to administratingthetest and theexaminergave instructionand correctivefeedbackat this time.The syllabictasks comprisedFrench initialand final syllabledeletion subtasks.In the Frenchinitial syllabledeletion task,the examinersaid a wordto the participant(e.g., ‘marcher’)and askedthe participantto say theword withoutthe first partor first syllable(i.e., ‘mar’).The participantanswered‘cher’.123In the French final syllable deletion task, the examiner said a wordto the participant (e.g.,‘poupée’) and asked the participant to say the word without thelast part or last syllable (i.e.,‘pee’). The participant answered ‘pou’.The phonemic task consisted of a French middle phonemedeletion subtask.In the French middle phoneme deletion task, the examiner saida word to the participant(e.g., ‘hibou’) and asked the participant to say theword without the middle part or middlesound(i.e., ‘b’). The participant answered ‘hiou’.Each item was scored 1, or 0 as follows:(a) 1 point for a correct answer, and (b)0 pointsfor an incorrect answer. The task was discontinuedafter five consecutive errors.The maximumscore on this task was 20 points. Theraw score was used for the analysis.For reliability purposes, the internal-consistencyreliability for the sample of thepresentstudy was calculated using Cronbach’s alpha.This test had a satisfactory levelof reliability(Cronbach’s a .82).3.3.4 SpellingSpelling was assessed with theFrench Immersion Achievement Test (FIAT)SpellingSubtest (Wormeli & Ardanaz,1987). In this task, the examiner read to theparticipant each wordalone, then presented the wordwithin a sentence and finally alone again.The participant wasasked to write the word as accuratelyas possible with no time constraint.As presented inAppendix H, there were 55 test itemsincreasing in difficulty, for example ‘lui’[him] to‘arrondissements’ [city-quarter].Each item was scored 1, or 0 as follows:(a) 1 point for a correct answer, and (b) 0 pointsfor an incorrect answer. The basallevel was reached after six correct consecutiveresponses. Thetask was discontinued after six consecutiveerrors. The raw score was the numberof correct124items plus the number of items below the basal level. The maximum score onthis task was 55points. The raw score was used for the analysis.The FIAT Spelling Subtest (Subtest 1) was found to have a reliability coefficient of.84 inGrade 3. For reliability purposes, the internal-consistency reliabilityfor the sample of the presentstudy was calculated using Cronbach’s alpha. This test had a satisfactorylevel of reliability(Cronbach’s a = .83). The standard error of measurement indicating theexpected band of errorsurrounding a raw score was 1.99 for the FIAT Spelling Subtest in Grade3. The standard error ofmeasurement also indicated the chance at about two-third thatthe participant obtained a scaledscore within 1.99 scaled-score points of his/her true score. That is the averagescore a participantwould obtain if he/she was tested a large number of times, and ifthe effectsof practice, fatigueand others, are ruled out. The validity of the FIAT was discussed in section3.3.1.3.3.5 Verbal Working MemoryVerbal working memory was measured with theDigit Span Test which is part of theSupplementary Verbal Test ofthe Wechsler IntelligenceScalefor Children (WISC-R) (Wechsler,1974). There were two parts to the Digit Span Test — Digits Forward andDigits Backward (seeAppendix I). The tasks were administered separately, followingone after the other.In the Digits Forward subtask, the participant was asked to listenand repeat correctly inFrench exactly the numbers given. For example, if the numbers 3-8-6were given, the childrepeated the numbers in the same order 3-8-6. The digits were givenat the rate of one persecond. Each task had seven items and twotrials. All seven items of each trial were tested. Bothtrials (Trial 1 and Trial 2) were administered, even if the participantpassed Trial 1. The task wasdiscontinued after failure on both trials of any item. One practiceitem was given prior toadministrating the test and the examiner gave instruction and correctivefeedback at this time.125In the Digits Backward subtask, the participantwas asked to listen and repeat in Frenchthe numbers backwards. For example, if thenumbers 7-2-9-6 were given, the participantrepeated the numbers in the reverse order6-9-2-7. The digits were givenat the rate of one persecond. Each task had seven items andtwo trials. All seven items of each trialwere tested. Bothtrials (Trial 1 and Trial 2) were administered,even if the participant passed Trial1. The task wasdiscontinued after failure on both trialsof any item. One practice item wasgiven prior toadministrating the test and the examinergave instruction and corrective feedbackat this time.Each item was scored 2, 1 or 0, for bothsubtasks, Digits Forward and DigitsBackward.The following scoring was used:(a) 2 points for a correct answeron both trials, (b) 1 point for acorrect answer on only one trial, and(c) 0 points for an incorrect answeron both trials. Themaximum score on Digits Forwardwas 14 points and on Digits Backwardwas 14 points. Thetotal score for the Digit Span Testwas the sum of scores on Digits Forwardand DigitsBackward. The maximum score on thistask was 28 points. The raw score wasused for theanalysis.The split-half procedure, whichprovides a measure of internal consistency,was notappropriate for Digit Span, because itwas given as two separate subtests. The reliabilitycoefficients were test-retest or stabilitycoefficients. They were obtained forsix age groups ofabout 50 children each tested twice (one-monthinterval) and corrected forthe variability of theappropriate normative agegroup. On average, the reliability coefficientwas .78, which issatisfactory. For the interested age groupfor this study,81’2and91/2years old, stabilitycoefficients were not available.“The best estimate of reliabilitycoefficient of the Digit Span atan age level were retestingwas not done is the value obtained at theadjacent age level, e.g., the.84 obtained for Digit Span atage71’2is the best guess for age8hh12(Wechsler, 1974,p.28, Noteb). For reliability purposes, the internal-consistencyreliability for the sampleof the present study126was calculated using Cronbach’salpha. This test hada satisfactory level of reliability(Cronbach’s CL = .81).The standard error of measurementprovides an indicationof confidence in makingjudgments about a child’strue ability on the Digit Span.It is a function of thereliabilitycoefficient and the variabilityof test scores indicatesthe band of errors surroundinga test score.The standard error of measurementfor the Digit Span was 1.44on average. The standard errorofmeasurement also indicatedthe chance at about two-thirdthat the participantobtained a sealedscore within 1.44 scaled-scorepoints of his/her true score.That is the average scorea participantwould obtain if he/she wastested a large number oftimes, and ifthe effectsof practice, fatigueand others, are ruled out.The mean and standard deviationwere 10.1 and 3.1 respectively,inreference to the norms givenfor61Q71years old.3.3.6 VocabularyVocabulary was measured withthe Echelle Vocabulaireen Images Peabody (EVIP)8(Dunn et a!., 1993b).This test is a measureofreceptive vocabulary. Inthis task, the participantwas asked to choose onepicture among four that bestrepresented the meaningof the word givenby the examiner. The participanteither pointed to thecorrect picture or gave thenumber of thepicture (1, 2, 3, or 4) thatrepresented the word. FormA and “PicturePlate Dand E forparticipants 8 yearsand older” (Dunn, Thériault-Whalen,& Dunn, 1993a,pp.28-29) were used.Five practice items were givenprior to administratingthe test and the examinergave instructionand corrective feedback atthis time (see Appendix J).Each item was scored1, or 0 as follows: (a)1 point for a correct answer,and (b) 0 pointsfor an incorrect answer. Araw score was determinedby subtracting the individual’stotal numberof errors over his or hercritical range from the ceilingitem. This score wasbased on the8EvIP is the French analogue ofthe Peabody Picture VocabularyTest— Revised (PPVT—R)(Dunn & Dunn, 1997).127assumption that all items below the basal set (the lowestset of items administered containingone or no errors) were correct, and all items above the ceiling set were incorrect. Theceiling setwas established after the highest set of items administered containedeight or more errors. Theceiling item was the last item in the ceiling set. The maximum scoreon this task was 170 points.The raw score was used for the analysis.EVIP, the French version of the PPVT, was normed in Canada with2038 young peoplewhose mother tongue was French. Split-half procedureswere applied to the scores of allparticipants in the standardization sample.“The resulting coefficient of internal consistency (Spearman-Brown)ranged from .68 to.88 (median .81) for children below age 19 for FormA and ranged from .66 to .85(median .80) for Form B. In particular the coefficientof internal consistency was of .76(Form A) and of .79 (Form B) for children between8 years and 8 years and 11 monthsold and of.83 (Form A) and of.81 (Form B) for childrenbetween 9 years and 9 yearsand 11 months old.” (Dunn et al., 1993a,p.40)Those correlations indicated acceptable to high levelsof internal consistency among theperformance on alternate items (Wiig, 1984). Test-retestreliability was established for asubsample of 1806 for all age groups testedwith a time interval of seven days.The resulting rawscore coefficients ranged from .55 to .78 (median .72).Although some coefficients are a bit low,the median is acceptable. The raw score coefficientwas .74 for participants between 8years and8 years and 11 months old and .77 for participantsbetween 9 years and 9 years and 11 monthsold. For reliability purposes, the internal-consistencyreliability for the sample ofthe presentstudy was calculated using Cronbach’s alpha. Thistest had a satisfactory level of reliability(Cronbach’s a = .83).The validity evidence of the EVIP was considered tosupport content, construct, andconcurrent validity (Bachman, 1990). Content validitywas supported by selection of thevocabulary items on the basis of vocabulary searchersand cross-references with age and gradelevel referenced vocabulary lists. Construct validitywas supported by gradual increases overage128in percentage of participants who respondedcorrectly to an item. Concurrentvalidity wasestablished against the EVIPand other vocabulary tests. Coefficientof concurrences withtheEVIP ranged from .36 to .86 with a medianof.71 for the raw scores (Dunnet al., 1993a,p.74).The median suggests adequateto high levels of content, constructand concurrent validity.Theauthors’ inferences of the test’sability to measure scholasticaptitude are supportedin theliterature (Umberger, 1985).In reference to the norms givenfor Form A for ages 8years to 8years and 11 months old, the meanand standard deviation were100.95 and 13.7, and forages 9years to 9 years and 11 monthsold, the mean and standard deviationwere 100.37 and 15.2respectively.3.3.7 Morphological AwarenessMorphological awareness wasmeasured with a task developedby Desrochers (2007). Inthis task, the participant was askedto read 60 sentences in Frenchand fill in the missing wordtomake the sentence completefrom a choice of four possibleanswers9(see Appendix K).Themissing word covered differentparts of the speech, suchas nouns, verbs, adjectives,prepositions, conjunctionsand punctuation. A correct responsehad to make morphologicalsenseto score one point For example,”ont déchiré leurs pantalons.”(a) Ii, (b) Vous, (c) Ils, (d)Tu. The participant circled (c) Ils. Responseswere recorded on thesheet by circling the rightchoice a, b, c, or d. Seven practiceitems were given prior to administratingthe test and theexaminer gave instructionand corrective feedbackat this time.Each item was scored 1, or0 as follows: (a) 1 point for thecorrect multiple choicethatbest completed the sentence,and (b) 0 points for the incorrectmultiple choice. The maximumscore on this task was 60 points.The raw score was used for theanalysis.The morphological task was done inwriting, as if it was done orally inthis context, it would misssomegrammatical morphemes.129Desrochers (2007) developed and validatedexperimental morphologicalawareness taskson advanced reading skills for Grades3 and 6 students in the provincesof Quebec and Ontario.Although designed for French nativespeaker, the author did a preliminaryanalysis of 250 itemsto identify the items according to their difficultiesand sensitivity to individualdifferences andrecommended the 60 most reliableitems for the use with French immersionstudents in Grade 3.Desrochers (2007) integrated thistask in the second part of a batteryof multidimensional tasksfor assessing reading comprehension (Batteried’épreuves multidimensionnellesd’évaluation dela lecture - BEMEL). This task isin the process of being published. Forreliability purposes, theinternal-consistency reliability forthe sample of the present study wascalculated usingCronbach’s alpha. Thistest had a satisfactory level of reliability(Cronbach’s a .79).3.3.8 Second Language CulturalKnowledgeThe second language cultural knowledgetask was designed to examine whatculture-specific vocabulary readers producedand recognized. Second languagecultural knowledge wasmeasured using culture specificwords from the two narrative passages(see Appendix L).For the Second Language Culturalknowledge measure, previous researchin secondlanguage inferencing and incidentalvocabulary acquisition has demonstratedthat increases ingeneral second language reading abilityand passage sight vocabulary arealso accompanied byincreases in inferencing. The commonaspects (time, food, activities)of the French and Canadianculture served as the contextswithin which three categories of wordswere situated as follows:(a) Target Words (TW) referredto cultural words in the story specificto lunch-recess in school,(b) Words Story Theme (WST) referred tocultural words in the story relevantto the schooltheme, and (c) Words Theme(WT) referred to words relevant to the schooltheme but notincluded in the story (see AppendixL for sample items for the culturallyless and more familiarpassage). The words werefound on the list of words that shouldbe common to Grade 3 readers,130or they were among the most frequent words in Baudot’s (1992) Fréquences d’utilisationdesmots enfrancais écrit contemporain, edited in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (see Appendix L).Theculturally less familiar story should not be linguistically less familiar to the reader.Since the ability to recognize new lexical forms is considered to be an initial step in theiracquisition, recognition memory of the cultural words (TW and WST) was assessed to tap intake(Pulido, 2003, 2004, 2007a, 200Th). “Intake was operationalized as a measureof accuracy inmemory discrimination for recently processed information” (Pulido, 2007b,p.168). This task ofverifying whether or not certain words were presented within the stories that were read isassumed to tap episodic memory’°. This task is an indirect measure of having noticedthecultural words while reading which should serve as a rough estimate of how deeplytextualinformation was processed (Baddeley, 1998). In theory, the more superficiallya new lexical itemis processed the less accurate is the episodic memory discrimination (Baddeley,Aggleton, &Conway, 2002; Tulving, 1972) for the cultural words. It becomes more difficultto associate thecultural words in question with the particular story context. It suggests that weakermemorytraces of associations may have been made during reading among the new form,the context, andinformation stored in long-term memory.In this task participants were required to make decisions as to whether ornot individualsecond language cultural words appearing in a list had appeared in the passage theyhadpreviously read. For each word in the list participants were instructedto circle the individualsecond language cultural words if the word had appeared in the passage they hadreadpreviously. The task was self-paced with no time constraints. A total of 24second-languagecultural words were divided into three types: TW, WST, and WT.The words without a translationwere listed on the test form. The order of presentation of the 24 words wasrandomized. As the10Episodic memory is generally described as the storage and recollection of personally-relevant eventsandexperiences (Tulving, 1972).131presentation of the passage was counterbalanced,so was the list of words. Assessingrecognitionmemory of the cultural words involveddiscriminating between words thatwere presented in thepassages and those that were not. The maximumscore on the cultural words recognitiontask was16 points. If the participant said the cultural-specificwords when recalling eachstory (seesection 3.3.2), it was noted as cultural wordproduction. The maximum scoreon the culturalword production task was 16 points. The rawscore was used for the analysis.3.3.9 InterviewsIn order to fmd out more about second languagecultural background knowledge,aninterview was conducted after thesecond language cultural knowledgetask had beenadministered. These interviewsprovided a more formal opportunityto discuss if, how, and whythe participant believed a particularpassage was more difficult to comprehend.Theirengagement in a particular culturalsetting could also be assessedand analyzed at the conclusionof each interview.The interviews were semi-structuredin design (Merriam, 1998) and focusedon twoopen-ended questions. Therewas a possibility of adding new questionsor follow-up questions toencourage participants to provideas much detail and information inorder to follow through oninteresting ideas. The two questionswere: (a) QueUe histoire as-ta trouvéela plus facile desdeux ? Pourquoi? [Which story didyoufind the easiest among the two?Why?], and (b) Dansquelle histoire est-ce que tu aimerais être? Pourquoi ? [In which story wouldyou like to be?Why?] (Appendix M). Much of whatthe participants were asked dependedon the individualparticipant’s reading comprehensionperformance and secondlanguage cultural knowledge,aswell as on his or her responses throughoutthe interview. The interviewswere kept within a 5-10minute range in duration.132The students were free to use French, English, or both during the interviews and theexaminer generally used whichever language the student felt most comfortable with. Sometimesa switch was made to English if it elicited a more complete response from the participant or toFrench if it elicited specific words or sentence examples. The interviews were recorded onaudiotape and later transcribed verbatim in the language used in the classroom, French. Theresearcher did not have the intention of translating the interviews to avoid misinterpretation inthe translation. For the purpose of presenting and discussing the fmdings, in Chapters 4 and 5,excerpts chosen to substantiate the theme categories emerging from the data that were translatedin English are italicized. Words were translated from French into English using The CollinsRobert French-English dictionary (Atkins, Duval, Mime, Lewis, Sinclair, & Birks, 1991). Datawere also managed by carefully collecting field notes throughout the interviewing.The interview transcripts were color-coded to mark the types of information that emergedfrom the data. A codebook was created with descriptions of each code, criteria and examples oftext associated with each theme (Ryan & Bernard, 2000). Both descriptive and interpretive codeswere marked. Propositions that emerged from the observed data were organized into ‘conceptualcategories’ taking into account both positive and negative cases (Taylor & Bogden, 1984).Coded maps (Ryan & Bernard, 2000) were established for a visual framework of the emerginganalysis to enable the researcher to explore relationships between the themes. Software such asNVivo (QSR, 2006) was used for emerging themes and sub-themes. Participants’ explanations ofresponses appeared to be related to one of the following salient categories: (a) for the firstinterview question, i.e., elements of the narrative and language of the text, and (b) for the secondinterview question, i.e., setting and social interactions. Within the context of each passage,elements of the narrative refer to the story structure and environment. Language of the text refersto the vocabulary (difficulty, length and knowledge and use of words). Setting of the story133included, curiosity, way of eating duration of lunch, and type of food. Social interactionsincluded rapport of the characters in the story with friends and the teacher. A content analysiswas performed. Participants’ statements were transformed into quantitative data (frequency ofoccurrences of main stateniênts) and discussed.The results were consistent and dependable with the collected data. All interviews wereaudio-recorded and transcribed. This will facilitate the recording of detailed and reliable dataresults for referencing and analysis. This process allowed for an awareness of patterns emergingfrom the research (Fontana & Frey, 2000; Johnson, 2002; Miller & Crabtree, 2004).3.3.10 Relationships Between Variables Tested in this StudyIt is important to note several points from Figure 2 above. There is no posited relationshipbetween word reading and reading comprehension. The present research intendedto uncover ifthe same or different variables played a similar or different role in word reading and readingcomprehension. Word reading as an outcome variable was only used to replicate a previousSecond language literacy knowledgeFigure 2. Relationships between variables tested in the present study.134study done by Boumot-Trites and Denizot (2005a) on predictors of word reading in Frenchimmersion students. Control for word reading in examining the relationship betweenmorphological awareness and reading comprehension was accounted for. It will be explained insection 3.5 Data Analysis.Spelling was not used as an outcome variable as the purpose of the present research wasto establish what predicts French word reading and reading comprehension in French immersionGrade 3 students. Nevertheless this is an important question that should be addressed in a futureresearch.First language measures could also be part of this ‘model’. Cross-linguistic contributionshave been uncovered in that performance on a linguistic task in the first language is related tosecond language reading and vice-versa. As mentioned previously forfirst language literacyknowledge such as phonological awareness, French immersion students transfer Englishphonological knowledge to their acquisition of literacy in French (Comeau et al., 1999). Forfirstlanguage knowledge such as morphological awareness, French immersion students transferEnglish morphological knowledge to their acquisition of French literacy (Deacon et al., 2006).For the purpose of the present study participants were only tested in their second language.Larger sample sizes are needed to assess the equivalence of the transfer of phonologicalawareness and morphological awareness. The number of participants in the present study beingequal to 72 and the ratio of 2 to 1 of first language English (45) to second language English (27)participants would not be enough. Some participants had also first languages with differentorthography (14 Asian, 3 Arabic, 6 Slavic) which might have acted as an influence and/orimpediment of the first language to the additional language ‘French’ (Geva & Siegel, 2000).1353.4 Procedures of AdministrationTrained graduate students and one learning assistance teacher in one school helped toconduct assessments in the schools. All experimenters were bilingual in French and English.Theexperimenters spoke French, the language of tests, as they administered the items for eachtest.Except for the researcher and the learning assistance teacher, the experimenters were notfamiliarto school staff andlor to participants. AU the tasks were in French and the instructions foreachtask were given in French. If participants did not understand the instructionin French, theexperimenters explained the instructions in English.All the tasks were given in the same fixed order for all participants.This practice iscommon in correlational studies so that measurements will not be dilutedby variance attributableto order effects. The order was as follows: spelling, morphological awareness,word reading,phonological awareness, vocabulary, verbal working memory, readingcomprehension of isolatedsentences, reading comprehension of narrative texts with cultural emphasis,and second languagecultural knowledge. The order of presentation of the narrative passageswas counterbalancedacross all participants. The text “Le dejeuner” was presented first to50% of the students of eachdivision followed by the text “Le lunch” and vice-versa.The second language culturalknowledge task for each passage was also counterbalanced. Counterbalancingallowed theresearcher to detect any practice effects.Spelling and morphological awareness tasks were administered ina group setting in theclassrooms by the researcher. The group setting lasted 60 minutes. Thespelling andmorphological awareness tasks were presented in the same orderto each division in bothschools. Participants started with the spelling task. The spelling task waspresented orally andrequired a written answer. Participants were then given the morphologicalawareness task. Themorphological awareness task was presented in writingand also required a written answer.136Several practice items with corrective feedback were presented before the experimental itemsformorphological awareness.The remaining tasks including word reading, phonological awareness, vocabulary,verbalworking memory, reading comprehension (of isolated sentences, andof narrative texts withcultural emphasis) and second language cultural knowledge wereadministered individually inthat order. Each participant was assessed in a quiet room lasting 60minutes. The word reading,phonological awareness, vocabulary, verbal working memoryand reading comprehension ofisolated sentences tasks were presented orally inthe same order for each participant and requiredan oral answer from the child. Several practice itemswith corrective feedback were presentedbefore experimental items for the phonological awareness, vocabulary,verbal working memoryand reading comprehension of isolated sentencestasks. Participants needed to be successfulonthe practice items before continuing with the experimentalitems.The participants were also given the reading comprehensionof narrative texts withcultural emphasis and second language cultural knowledgetasks. Each participant was asked tofirst read aloud one of the narrative passage withno time constraints. Reading aloud was acommon task that participants regularly performedin class. Before reading the passage, allparticipants were oriented to the task of reading thetext carefully in order to comprehend thesubstance in order to recall and answer comprehensionquestions about the stories. Participants’reading speed was recorded. For each passage,participants started with the recall measure,followed by the literal comprehension questions andthe second language cultural knowledgetask (culture specific vocabularyas presented on the cultural words sheet). Participants then readthe second passage following the same steps. Participantswere then asked to compare thepassages by answering three inferential questions.137After reading the first passage, each participant was askedto retell in oral fashion asmuch detail of the story read: “Imagine the teacher entersin the classroom and asks you whathappened in the story because he/she did not read the story. Whatwould you tell your teacher?Tell your teacher all you remember.” In the Frenchimmersion context, the language of literacyinstruction for all of the students since Kindergarten is French.Questioning was performed inFrench but children could recall in English or French.Although some students had a firstlanguage other than English, all students spoke English.Although language of assessment withsecond language populations is critical (Lee, 1986a, 1986b; Shohamy,1982, 1984, 2001), theFrench immersion context is different as studentsstart theirformal literacy in French inKindergarten. As all participants started theirschooling in Canada in Kindergarten inFrenchimmersion, recalling in French did not seemto impede their performance.Literal comprehension questions were also asked. Afterwards,participants wereinstructed to circle on the Cultural Words sheet anyword that had appeared in the passage.Thefree recall and comprehension questions were presentedorally but the second language culturalknowledge task was done in writing. Once participantshad completed all three tasks for the firstpassage (recall measure, literal comprehension questions,cultural words sheet), they read thesecond passage following the same procedures thanthe first one. Participants were then askedtoanswer three inferential questions drawing on a comparisonof the two passages. The wholeprocedure was audio-recorded.3.5 Data AnalysisQuantitative and exploratory qualitative measureswere employed in this analysis.Quantitative and qualitative data was collected, butpriority was given to quantitative data. Themethods used to analyze and interpret the informationgathered centered mainly on the principlesof quantitative data analysis using SPSS with someexploratory qualitative analysis using NVivo138(QSR, 2006). After the data were gathered, a procedure called hierarchical regression analysiswas used to analyze quantitative results obtained. The exploratory qualitative analysis was donewith the content analysis of interview transcripts.In the quantitative analysis, the use of hierarchical regressions enabled the researchertofmd the importance of each predictor variable (phonological awareness,spelling, verbal workingmemory, vocabulary, morphological awareness and second language culturalknowledge) inword reading and reading comprehension (of isolated sentences, and of narrativetexts withcultural emphasis). The effect size and the percentage of explained varianceeach variablecontributed to word reading and reading comprehension was calculated (Tabachnick& Fidell,2001). Data were analyzed in accordance with successful completion on the practiceitems,although the participant may not have been successful on the experimentalitems themselves.Most participants got the practice items right. If participants didnot get the practice items rightthe first time, they were given a chance to do them a second time.All participants who weregiven the practice items a second time, had them right the second time. Rawscores were used forthe analysis because about half of the measures used in thisstudy did not have standardizedscores. The present study did not include nonverbal intelligence asa control variable.The computer does not take into account the theory to determine which variablesareimportant. To take into account theory, hierarchical regressions were used todetermine whichvariables predicted word identification, reading comprehension of isolatedsentences and readingcomprehension of narrative texts with cultural emphasis. In a hierarchical regression,theresearcher decides not only how many predictors to enterbut also in which order they enter. Theorder of entry is usually based on logical or theoretical considerations. The valueof alpha wasset at .05, which means that ap value < .05 showed a statistically significantresult. The criticalvalue of the F value for significance was set atp < .05.139According to Hair, Black, Babin, Anderson, & Tatham (2005), there should be 10participants for each predictor variable. The sample size for this study was 72. Each separatehierarchical regression had no more than six predictor variables entered.To answer research question 1, the first hierarchical regression included one outcomevariable (word reading) and five predictor variables (vocabulary, verbal working memory,phonological awareness, spelling, and morphological awareness). To control for vocabulary andverbal working memory, these variables were entered first because they pertain to generalcognitive functioning and oral language. Given the importance ofphonological awareness inreading theories, it was entered in as the second variable (i.e., in the second step oftheregression). This would make the fmdings of any further significant variables more powerful.The remaining variables were entered in the next step.To answer research question 2, the second hierarchical regression included one outcomevariable (reading comprehension of isolated sentences) and six predictor variables (vocabulary,verbal working memory, word reading, phonological awareness, spelling, andmorphologicalawareness). To control for vocabulary and verbal working memory, these variables were enteredfirst because they pertain to general cognitive functioning and oral language. As mentionedinsection 3.3, although a relationship exists between word reading and reading comprehension, thepresent research intended to uncover ifthe same or different variables playeda similar ordifferent role in word reading and reading comprehension. Control for word reading inexamining the relationship between morphological awareness and reading comprehensionwasaccounted for, entering it in the second step of the regression. This was an effective way ofcontrolling for word reading and preventing this confound. Phonological awareness andspellingwere entered in the third and fourth step respectively. Morphological awareness wasentered inthe fifth step of the regression.140To answer researchquestion 3, four independenthierarchicalregressions wereconductedas there were one lessand one more familiarpassage. Therewere two independentoutcomevariables for each passage:comprehensionquestions and recallof ideas. The regressionfor theless familiar passageincluded: (a) oneoutcome variable(recall less familiar)and six predictorvariables (second languagecultural knowledgeproduction lessfamiliar, phonologicalawareness,spelling, verbalworking memory,vocabulary andmorphologicalawareness), and(b) oneoutcome variable(comprehensionquestions less familiarpassage) and sixpredictor variables(verbal working memory,second languagecultural knowledgeproduction lessfamiliarvocabulary, phonologicalawareness, spelling,and morphologicalawareness).The sameregressions wereconducted for themore familiar passage.To control forverbal workingmemory, it was enteredin the firststep of the regression.Second languagecultural knowledgewas entered in the secondstep of the regression,followed by vocabulary,and morphologicalawareness. Theremaining variableswere entered inthe next step.Student t-test wasused to examinewhether there weresignificant differencesamong thestudents readingcomprehensionof the two culturalpassages. Thedifferences weretested in fourdistinct areas:(a) reading speed,(b) recall scores (mainidea, supportingidea, detailrecall andconnecting words),(c) comprehensionquestions (literaland inferential),and (d) culturalwordsrecognition andproduction. A Boriferromcorrection was usedto correct for multipletestingwithin a sample.The Bonferroni correctionwas calculatedas a / p: a is thesignificance level(.05), andp is the number of comparisons.In the present study,17 comparisons weredonebetween the lessand more familiarpassages. As theywere 17 comparisonsthe Bonferroniadjustment was.05/17 = .0029. Theconclusions werebased on a .0029significancelevel.An exploratoryqualitative analysiswas also conducted.The analysis aimedto determineif participants perceiveddifferences of culturalelements in the comprehensionof the cultural141passages. An exploratory qualitative analysis of participants’ answer to the two interviewquestions was performed. The objectives of the exploratory qualitative analysis identifiedfactorsthat elicited information regarding the participants’ comprehensionof the cultural passages. Theparticipants’ perceptions of their responses as they appear to be relatedto one of the followingsalient categories: elements of the narrative, language of the text, settingand social interactionswas also noted.The general approach suggested by Creswell (2003) was adopted asa guide in theanalysis of the interview transcripts. The questions of the interviewswere used as a guide whencreating the main coding categories. The interview transcriptswere color-coded to mark thetypes of information that emerged from the data. The initial categoriesand the interviewsstatements they contained led to a more detailed analysis of the data.Themes and patterns wereidentified through repetitious surveys of the data andorganized in various text summaries,analytical tables and matrix of qualitative fmdings (Anfara, Brown,& Mangione, 2002). Thequalitative data was then quantified by counting the number of times statements correspondingtoa specific theme or category occurred.Although analysis and interpretation are usually takenas a single process, a cleardistinction exists between the two in qualitative research. Accordingto Wolcott (1994), analysisis the process whereby key factors and relationships amongdata are carefully and systematicallyidentified and isolated. Interpretation, on the other hand, is wherebyone seeks to imposemeaning on one’s data or making sense of one’s data (Wolcott,1994). In this study my analysisof data was separated from its interpretation. The analysis consistedof categorizing data intomanageable themes, identifying and isolating what wasimportant to note, what was learned andwhat could be reported about the findings of my research.142Some complementary exploratory qualitative measuresalso helped answer somequestions (for example perception in the difficultyof the narrative texts with culturalemphasisand engagement towards a cultural text) thatthe quantitative approach could notanswer in thepresent study. Consistent with the requirementsfor analyzing data (Wolcott, 1994),theparticipants’ own words where appropriatewere used. As is customary inexploratory qualitativeresearch, the analysis of the datapresented here was done continuously. Majorrecurrent themeswere identified and isolated as theyemerged: perceptions of participants developedfrom theanalysis of data.The second stage at which analysis of datawas done in the research was aftertheresearcher exited the research site. This isthe stage when data from the audio-tapedinterviewwas transcribed. The interpretation of datain this exploratory qualitative researchwasundertaken when the researcher hadto make sense of the data. Thedata was examined in theinterpretation stage against the backgroundof the literature reviewed in Chapter2.Bringing together quantitativeand some exploratory qualitativedata analysis enabled theresearcher to integrate both data inthe analysis phase (Tashakkori& Teddlie, 1998). Thisenhanced the validity, reliability and dependencyof the results. Validity was achievedinquantitative methods by respecting empiricalvalidity, population validity and contentvalidity.The content of the test mustbe representative of the domains it is purportedto measure to insureempirical validity. In the present study, theprimary function for which the experimentaltaskswere developed was to havean individualized screening test to indicatethe relative achievementof elementary pupils in phonologicalawareness, spelling, verbal workingmemory, vocabulary,morphological awareness, secondlanguage cultural knowledge, word readingand readingcomprehension of isolated sentencesand narrative texts with cultural emphasis.For populationvalidity, the population whom the experimentaltasks were used for was similar to thoseon143whom the various experimental tasks werenormed. Content validity was achievedas the contentof the test reflected many of the materialsused in French immersion programsacross BritishColumbia. The test was valid for the purposefor which it was intended, and theresults obtainedby its use were not suspect.3.6 Summary of Measures and ResearchQuestionsTable 4 shows links betweenthe measures used in the study, the correspondingquestionsand the method of analysis.144Table 4Summary ofResearchQuestions,Quantitativeand ExploratoryQualitativeMeasures,andData AnalysisResearchQuestionQuestion 1:What is thebest predictorof word readingamongphonologicalawareness,spelling, verbalworking memory,vocabularyand morphologicalawarenessin Grade3 French___________________immersionstudents?_______________QuantitativeDescriptiveStatisticsMeasures& Dataand HierarchicalAnalysisRegressionAnalysisFIAT WordIdentificationSubtestRaw score(/86)(Wormeli& Ardanaz,1987)Reliabilitycoefficient(.96)PhonologicalAwarenessRaw score (/20)(Bournot-Trites& Denizot, 2005b)Reliabilitycoefficient(.82)FIAT SpellingSubtestRaw score(/5 5)(Wormeli& Ardanaz,1987)Reliabilitycoefficient(.83)Verbal WorkingMemory - DigitSpan Test -Raw score(/28)SupplementaryVerbal Testof the WechslerReliabilityIntelligenceScale forChildren(WISC-R)coefficient(.81)(Wechsler,1974)Echelle Vocabulaireen ImagesPeabodyRaw score(/170)(EVIP) (Dunnet al., 1 993b)Reliabilitycoefficient(.83)MorphologicalAwarenessRaw score(/60)(Desrochers,2007)Reliabilitycoefficient(.79)145Research Question Question 2: Whatis the best predictor of readingcomprehensionamong phonological awareness,spelling, verbal working memory,vocabulary and morphologicalawareness in Grade 3 Frenchimmersion________________students?_________________QuantitativeDescriptive StatisticsMeasures & Dataand HierarchicalAnalysisRegression AnalysisEpreuve d’Evaluationde Ia Competence en Rawscore (/2 1)Lecture — Révisée (LMC-R),ReliabilityComprehension en Lecturecoefficient (.69)(Khomsi, 1999)Phonological AwarenessRaw score (/20)(Bournot-Trites & Demzot, 2005b)Reliabilitycoefficient (.82)FIAT Spelling SubtestRaw score (/55)(Wormeli & Ardanaz, 1987)Reliabilitycoefficient (.83)Verbal Working Memory - DigitSpan Test - Rawscore (/28)Supplementary VerbalTest of the Wechsler ReliabilityIntelligence Scale for Children(WISC-R) coefficient(.81)(Wechsler, 1974)Echelle Vocabulaire enImages Peabody (EVIP) Rawscore (/170)(Dunn et al., 1 993b)Reliabilitycoefficient (.83)Morphological AwarenessRaw score (/60)(Desrochers, 2007)Reliabilitycoefficient (.79)146Research Question Question 3:What is the relative role of secondlanguage culturalknowledge compared to phonologicalawareness, spelling, verbalworking memory, vocabularyand morphological awarenessin Grade 3_________________French immersion students’ readingcomprehension?QuantitativeDescriptive statisticsMeasures & Dataand HierarchicalAnalysisRegression AnalysisRecall of Cultural PassagesRaw score (/87)Comprehension Questions of CulturalPassages Raw score (/12)Phonological AwarenessRaw score (/20)(Bournot-Trites & Denizot,2005b) Reliabilitycoefficient (.82)FIAT Spelling SubtestRaw score (/5 5)(Wormeli & Ardanaz,1987) Reliabilitycoefficient (.83)Verbal Working Memory - DigitSpan Test - Raw score(/28)Supplementary VerbalTest ofthe Wechsler ReliabilityIntelligence Scale for Children(WTSC-R)coefficient (.81)(Wechsler, 1974)Echelle Vocabulaireen Images Peabody (EVIP)Raw score (/170)(Dunn et al., 1993b)Reliabilitycoefficient (.83)Morphological AwarenessRaw score (/16)(Desrochers, 2007)Reliabilitycoefficient (.79)Second Language CulturalKnowledgeRaw score (/16)RecognitionSecond Language Cultural KnowledgeRaw score (/16)Production__________________147Research Question Question 4: Whatdo French immersion Grade 3 students perceiveasdifferent in the culturally less and more familiartext that affectedtheir reading comprehension and whichcultural context do they__________________prefer and why?________________Qualitative Measure Participant’s InterviewsTranscription,compilation, andthematic analysis ofresponses.Participants’statementstransformed intoquantitative data(frequency of mainstatements) anddiscussed.148CHAPTER 4: RESULTSQuantitative and exploratory qualitative measures were used inthe present study toanswer the four main research questions. The data obtainedfrom these measures will bereviewed in this chapter as they were analyzed by statistical, thematicorganization anddescriptive procedures. The measures used to obtain thedata and the procedures used to analyzethat data are detailed in Chapter 3. The quantitativeresults and the qualitative interview fmdingsof the research questions will be presented inthe following order: predictors of word reading(Question 1), predictors of reading comprehensionof isolated sentences (Question 2), predictorsof reading comprehension of narrative texts with culturalemphasis (Question 3), andparticipants’ perception of differences in the culturallyless and more familiar passagesandengagement towards the cultural context (Question 4).The quantitative results are outlined in the order aboveusing the following indicators:predictors of word reading, reading comprehension ofisolated sentences and readingcomprehension of narrative texts with cultural emphasisare presented with the supportingdescriptive statistics and quantitative resultsbased on hierarchical regressions. Comprehensionof cultural passages is assessed using participants’ resultson the recall, comprehension questionsand propositional cultural words sheet. The exploratoryqualitative data analysis from theinterview questions providing fmdings to researchquestion 4 substantiates the quantitativedataanalysis of question 3 and the ensuingdiscussion.All 72 participants in the study answeredthe two open-ended questions on key aspectsofthe current research. All the respondents were assignednumbers followed by B (identifyingaboy) or G (identifying a girl) to protect theiranonymity and ensure confidentiality.1494.1 QuantitativeResultsThe analysis was doneusing hierarchicalregressions with theordinary leastsquare as anestimation methodto determine the importanceof each predictor variablein word reading,reading comprehensionof isolated sentencesand reading comprehensionof narrative texts withcultural emphasis inGrade 3 French immersionstudents. The varianceof variables predictingword reading, readingcomprehension ofisolated sentencesand reading comprehensionofnarrative texts withcultural emphasis wascalculated. There wereno missing valuesand thecases for analysis inthis study were 72 participants.Quantitative resultswill be presentedstarting with descriptivestatistics followedby correlationsand regression analysescorresponding toresearch questions1 to 3.4.1.1 Descriptive StatisticsMeans, standard deviations,ranges and skewnessfor all variables areshown in Table5.These are raw scores.150Table 5Ranges, Means, StandardDeviations, and SkewnessofOutcome and PredictorVariablesin Grade 3 French (n =72)VariableMm Max MSD Skewness1. Word Identification (FIAT)/863 82 48.65 16.00-0.232. Reading Comprehension(LMC-R) /214 19 13.042.68 -0.293. Comprehension QuestionsLess Familiar /121 11 7.33 2.32-0.774. Comprehension QuestionsMore Familiar /124 11 8.191.87 -0.285. Recall Ideas ConnectionsLess Familiar /870 81 24.15 12.691.356. Recall Ideas ConnectionsMore Familiar /875 79 25.83 14.300.747. Phonological Awareness/200 20 10.22 4.99-0.258. Spelling (FIAT) /552 36 14,5 1 7.480.779. Verbal Working Memory(WISCR) /284 17 9.67 2.290.3110. Vocabulary (EVIP) /17064 127 89.1313.40 0.5211. Morphological Awareness/6014 48 27.647.57 0.3512. Cultural WordRecognition Less Familiar/16 0 169.74 2.82-0.6413. Cultural WordProduction Less Familiar/160 12 3.392.26 1.0114. Cultural Word RecognitionMore Familiar/16 7 1512.04 1.86-0.4015. Cultural WordProduction More Familiar/16 0 145.43 2.76 0.62Note: Variables 1 to 6 arethe outcome variables and variables7 to 15 are the predictor variables.Cultural WordRecognition is the numberof Target Words and WordsStory-Theme a child recognizedon the cultural wordssheet after readingeach passage. Cultural WordProduction is the numberof Target Words and WordsStory-Themea child said when recalling eachpassage.Data were also inspectedfor each of the predictorand outcome variablesfor assumptionsof linearity, independenceof errors, normalityand equality of variance.151Linearity is important because Pearson’s correlation can confine the linear relationshipamong variables (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2001). The linearity assumption was assessedbyexamining the scatterplot with the simple regression line for each predictor variablewith theoutcome variable looking for a straight-line relationship between variables. No violationwasnoted in the scatterplots of Word Identification (FIAT), Reading ComprehensionofIsolatedSentences (LMC-R), Recall of Ideas and Connection of the less and more familiarpassages andComprehension Questions of the less and more familiar passages with each predictorvariable asthe data points were distributed equally.In terms of the independence assumption, by looking at the design ofthe model andvisualizing the data, there was no evidence of violation of this assumption.Each participantanswered each task individually and independently of each other.In reference to the normality assumption, grom Table5, all the skewness values areinferior to 1, with the exception of Recall Ideas Connections Less Familiar(skewness = 1.35)and Cultural Word Production Less Familiar (skewness = 1.01).The skewness values are withina safe range’1.Four outcome variables, Word Identification (FIAT), ReadingComprehension ofIsolated Sentences (LMC-R) and Comprehension Questions for both the lessfamiliar and morefamiliar passages were negatively skewed. The two remainingoutcome variables Recall of Ideasand Connections for both the less familiar and more familiar passageswere positively skewed.Three predictor variables, Phonological Awareness and CulturalWord Recognition for both theless and more familiar passages were also negatively skewed. All other variableswere positivelyskewed.From the boxplot of the standardized residuals, the distributionof the four abovementioned negatively skewed outcome variables showed fromthe way that the median line is notAcceptable range of values for skewness is between -2.5 and +2.5 (Tabachnick& Fidell, 2001).152centered withinthe box and thewhiskers areof differentlengths (Miles& Shevlin,2001). Theresiduals pointsappeared tobe fairly symmetricallydistributedabove andbelow thezero lineand there wasno violation ofthis assumption.The equalvariance’s assumptionis assumedwas examinedthroughthe scatterplotforthe standardizedresiduals andpredictor variablesand the scatterplotfor the standardizedpredicted valueof each predictorvariable withthe outcomevariable. Theresiduals appearedasan unstructuredhorizontal bandcentered atzero (meanof residuals)with noevidence ofcurvedor fan shapeand there wasno violationof this assumption.Examiningthe influentialdata point,one outlier(data pointfar from thebulk of theresiduals)was seen in theboxplotof the residualsfor the regressionon ReadingComprehensionof Isolated Sentences(LMC-R), onComprehensionQuestionsLess Familiar,on Recall IdeasandConnectionsLess Familiarand on RecallIdeas and ConnectionsMore Familiar.The maximumleverage pointfound was.208. All valuesfor the regressionswere below.5 and werewithin thesafe range(Fluber, 1981).The outlierwas not removedfrom the dataset.To draw amore precisepicture of differencesbetween lessand more familiarculturalpassages, apaired samplet-test wasused. Thesample t-testexaminedwhether significantdifferencesexisted amongthe students’ readingcomprehensionof the two narrativetexts withcultural emphasis.The differenceswere testedon five distinctareas: (a) readingspeed, (b) recallscores (mainidea, supportingidea, anddetailed idearecall and connectingwords), (c)comprehensionquestions (literaland inferential),(d) cultural wordproduction,and (e) culturalword recognition(target wordsand wordsstory-theme).Table 6 reportsthe meansof theculturally lessand more familiarpassages andshows thetasks thatwere statisticallysignificant.153Table 6Differencesfor Cultural Passage MeasureBetween Culturally Less andMore FamiliarPassage Comprehension in Grade3 French (n = 72)Less FamiliarM SD86.52 26.7224.15 12.6911.17 5.526.78 4.413.72 3.662.49 2.307.33 2.325.00 1.412.33 1.329.74 2.825.28 1.664.46 1.70.99 1.063.39 2.261.93 1.301.46 1.34More FamiliarM SD t(71)Cultural Passage MeasureReading Speed (words/mm)Total Idea of Unit Analysis (Recall)/87Main Ideas /27 (weighted x3)Supporting Ideas /22 (weighted x2)Details /24 (weighted xl)Connecting Words /14 (weighted xl)Total Comprehension Questions/12Literal Questions /7Inferential Questions /5Total Cultural Word Recognition/16Target Words /8Words Story-Theme /8Words not in the Story /8Total Cultural Word Production/16Target Words /8Words Story-Theme/895.24 27.246.25***25.83 14.30 -1.238.42 5.803.63**8.03 4.97 -2.066.53 3.936.33***2.86 2.18 -1.418.19 1.873.69***5.10 1.32 -.563.10 1.135.09***12.04 1.867.02***5.57 1.17 -1.446.47 1.188.81***.79 .92 1.495.43 2.765.71***2.99 1.455.19***2.44 1.893.96***Words not in the Story/8 .08 .28.14 .35 -1.16Note. The Bonferroni adjustment was .0029.The conclusions were based ona .0029 significance level.154In general terms, participants performed better on the more familiar story thanthe lessfamiliar story in all categories except for the recalling of main ideaswhere they did better in theless familiar passage. As reported in Table 6, participants read the culturallymore familiar textnearly 10% faster than the culturally less familiar text. Participantsrecalled 6% more of thesupporting ideas and 12% more details of the culturally more familiarstory than the less familiarstory. However, participants recalled more of the main ideasof the culturally less familiar textthan the more familiar text. They recalled 10% more main ideas.When participants recalled each story, they said 13% more ofboth the cultural targetedand story-theme words of the culturally more familiar story. Afterreading each story,participants also recognized 25% more cultural story-theme wordsof the culturally more familiartext compared to the less familiar text. Participants recalledon average approximately the samenumber of the targeted words for each passage. In terms of culturalreading comprehensionmeasured by answering literal and inferential questions, the totalscore on the questions was 7%higher for the culturally more familiar passage. Participants also inferred15% more fromculturally the more familiar than the less familiar story.4.1.2 CorrelationsPearson correlations among the outcome and predictor variablesare shown in Table 7.None of the negative correlations were statisticallysignificant.155Table7CorrelationMatrixofOutcomeandPredictorVariablesinGrade3French(n=72)Variable234567891011121314151.WI.22.11.10-.17.02.62***55***35**35**39**.16.11-.08-.002.RC.32**.09.27*.07.18.24*.06.27*.46***.31**.25*.29*-.033.CQLF57***44***.25*.18.13.01•39**.1553***41***.16.214.CQMF.19.25*-.09.14-.0533**.12.42***.22.28*.30**5.RICLF.63***.15-.05-.17.20.30*.2277***.0939**6.RICMF.19.07-.05.24*.21.23.50***.0377***7.PA44***.38**.31**.29*.11.36**-.17.158.S.20.48***.62***.17.28*-.11-.059.VWM.20.21.04-.09-.10.1210.V.41***.30*34**-.02.1011.MA.26*33**.06.1512.CWRLF.36**35**.28*13.CWPLF-.01.28*14.CWRMF.0315.CWPMFNote.Variables1to6aretheoutcomevariables,andvariables7to15arethepredictorvariables.Abbreviationsofvariablessignif’thefollowinginorder:WI(WordIdentificationFIAT),RC(ReadingComprehensionofIsolatedSentencesLMC-R),CQLF(ComprehensionQuestionsLessFamiliar),CQMF(ComprehensionQuestionsMoreFamiliar),RICLF(RecallIdeasandConnectionsLessFamiliar),RICMF(RecallIdeasandConnectionsMoreFamiliar),PA(PhonologicalAwareness),S(SpellingFIAT),VWM(VerbalWorkingMemoryWISCR),V(VocabularyEVIP),MA(MorphologicalAwareness),CWRLF(CulturalWordRecognitionLessFamiliar),CWPLF(CulturalWordProductionLessFamiliar),CWRMF(CulturalWordRecognitionMoreFamiliar),CWPMF(CulturalWordProductionMoreFamiliar).***p<.001(2-tailed).**p<.01(2-tailed).*p<.05(2-tailed).From Table 7, Word Identification was highly correlated with phonological awareness(.62) and spelling (.55). Correlations of other measures with the outcome variable were modest,ranging from .35 to .39. Reading Comprehension of Isolated Sentences was highly correlatedwith morphological awareness (.46) and vocabulary (.43). Correlations of other measures withthe outcome variable were low, ranging from .06 to .24. Also, they were not always significant.In regards to reading comprehension of narrative text with less familiar cultural emphasis(France), cultural word recognition less familiar was highly correlated (.53) to the outcomevariable Comprehension Questions Less Familiar. Correlations of other measures with theComprehension Questions Less Familiar outcome variable were in general modest, ranging from.01 to .40. They were not always significant. Cultural word production less familiar was highlycorrelated (.77) with the outcome variable Recall of Ideas and Connections Less Familiar.Correlations of other measures with the outcome variable were modest, ranging from .15 to .30.Also, they were not always significant.Concerning reading comprehension of narrative text with more familiar cultural emphasis(Canada), vocabulary (EVIP) had the highest correlation (.3 3) with the outcome variableComprehension Questions More Familiar. Correlations of other measures with the outcomevariable were modest, ranging from .14 to .30. They were not always significant. Cultural wordproduction more familiar was highly correlated (.77) with the outcome variable Recall of Ideasand Connections More Famifiar. Correlations of other measures with the Recall of Ideas andConnections More Familiar outcome variable were in general modest, ranging from .03 to .24.Also, they were not always significant.The correlation matrices for the correlation between the predictor variables showed nocorrelations values above .90 (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2001). Multicollinearity indicated that notwo outcome variables were too highly correlated, all below .70 (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2001).157The Variance Inflation Factor (VIF) values for each of the predictor variables werewithin the safe range, below 4. The highest VIF value was 2.07 for spelling on Recall of Ideasand Connections More Familiar (Canada) passage. The VIF for the models were all below 2.50.In addition, Eigenvalues were all above one, the maximum value being 2.95 for the regression onReading Comprehension of Isolated Sentences (LMC-R). The VIF and Eigenvalues recorded noevidence of multicollinearity among the predictor variables. The models constitute a coherentrepresentation of the data being studied.4.1.3 Regression AnalysesThe independent contributions of the various variables to word reading, readingcomprehension of isolated sentences and reading comprehension of narrative textswith culturalemphasis in a series of hierarchical regression analyses were examined.In addressing each research question, concurrent relationships between outcomemeasures and predictors to reading were analyzed. Each ofthe analyses is outlined inturn. Ineach of the subsequent tables, B, SEB,ftt, R Adjusted AR, and Pratt Index (d)12 are reported.The relative Pratt Index (Thomas, Hughes, & Zumbo, 1998) is used for orderingthe importanceof predictor variables. The variable ordering procedures are based on partitioning anmeasurefor each predictor variable. One can attribute a certain proportion of the overall R2 toeachpredictor and order the predictor variables in terms of the proportion of the R2that is attributableto each. The higher value will be first in order. If d3 <1/(2*P)(P = number of predictor variablesentered in the model), the variable is considered unimportant (Thomas, 1992). Forstatisticalanalysis purposes, models that had a higher variance (R2)were selected and compared witheachother. Looking for the R2 change, no other models were adding a significantcontribution to the12The formula of the relative Pratt Index is d,fl*r/R2 (Beta x [Correlation with dependent variable I R2]).158model. Subsequent sections give the candidate model for each of the regression correspondingtoresearch questions 1 to 3.4.1.3.1 Research Question 1 (Word Reading)The first research question was designed to identify which were the best predictors ofword reading among phonological awareness, verbal working memory, spelling, vocabulary,andmorphological awareness in Grade 3 French immersion students.Table 8 provides the candidate model for the regression on word identification(FIAT).The regression model on word identification (FIAT) was statistically significant for theregression, F (2, 69) 31.61,p< .001. As reported in Table 8, the regression analysis furtherrevealed that phonological awareness contributed to approximately 37% andspelling (FIAT) 9%,to word identification (FIAT).Table 8Modelfor the Hierarchical Regression on Word Identification (FIAT) in Grade 3 French(n = 72). Predictors Entered in Order: Vocabulary Verbal Working Memory, PhonologicalAwareness, Spelling, and Morphological AwarenessOutcome andPredictorWI (FIAT)Adj.B SEBftt R R2A a df FPA 1.49 0.31 .474.80***.38 .37 .61S (FIAT) 0.74 0.21 .35357**.48 .09 .39 (2,69)3l.61***Note. Abbreviations of variables signil’ the following in order: WI (FLAT) (Word Identification FIAT),PA(Phonological Awareness), and S (FLAT) (Spelling FIAT).***p<.oo1. **p<.ol.*p<.o5.159According to Cohen (1992), given the relationship between the effect size(/)13and R2for the model with phonological awareness and spelling, the value ofR2 was large (.48). Theeffect size for the candidate model was also large (.92). The relative importance of eachpredictorvariable to the regression model as shown in Table 8 was assessed by the relative Pratt Index(Thomas et al., 1998). According to the relative Pratt index in Table 8, phonologicalawareness(di, = .61) and spelling (FIAT) (4= .39) are, in relative order, the most important predictorvariables in the regression on word identification (FIAT). Based on the principle,if dj < l/2p =.10 (p is the number of predictor variables), all the other variables were consideredunimportant.This result was also confirmed by (1 - 1) = 0 < .10. All other variables wereremoved.4.1.3.2 Research Question 2 (Reading Comprehension of Isolated Sentences)The second research question was directed at identifying the best predictorsof readingcomprehension of isolated sentences among phonological awareness, verbalworking memory,spelling, vocabulary and morphological awareness in Grade 3 French immersionstudents.Table 9 provides the candidate model for the regression on reading comprehensionofIsolated Sentences (LMC-R). The regression model on reading comprehensionof isolatedsentences (LMC-R) was statistically significant, F (1, 70) = 18.43,p< .001. The regressionanalysis further revealed that morphological awareness contributedto approximately 20% toreading comprehension of isolated sentences (LMC-R).13 . .2 .. . .The formula for the effect size isj = ic/(1 - ic). Accordmg to Cohen (1992), an effect sizeis defined as small =.02”; “medium = .15”, and “large = .35” (p. 157).160Table 9Modelfor the Hierarchical Regression on Reading Comprehension ofIsolatedSentences (LMC-R) in Grade 3 French (n = 72). Predictors Entered inOrder:Vocabulary, Verbal Working Memory, Word Reading, Phonological Awareness,Spelling, and Morphological AwarenessOutcome and Adj.Predictor B SEBftt R R2 df FRC (LMC-R)MA 0.16 0.04 .464.29***.21 .20 (1,70)18.43***Note. Abbreviations of variables signif’ the following in order: RC(LMC-R) (Reading Comprehension of IsolatedSentences LMC-R), and MA (Morphological Awareness).***p<.001.**p<.01.*p< .05.According to Cohen (1992), given the relationship between the effectsize(/)and R2 for themodel with morphological awareness, the value R2 was large(.2 1). The effect size for thecandidate model was medium (.27). According to the relative Pratt indexin Table 9,morphological awareness (4 = 1) is, in relative order, themost important predictor variables inthe regression on reading comprehension of isolated sentences.4.1.3.3 Research Question 3 (Reading Comprehension of NarrativeTextswith Cultural Emphasis)The third research question examined the relative role of second languageculturalknowledge compared to phonological awareness, verbal working memory,spelling, vocabularyand morphological awareness in Grade 3 French immersion students’reading comprehension ofnarrative texts with cultural emphasis. Reading comprehensionof narrative texts with culturalemphasis was measured respectively by comprehension questionsand recall of ideas andconnections. The role of second language cultural knowledgeas measured by cultural wordproduction (targeted words children said in their recall)and by cultural word recognition161(targeted words children recognized on the cultural wordssheet) was compared to phonologicalawareness, spelling, verbal working memory, vocabulary,and morphological awareness.Table 10 outlines the candidate model forthe regression on reading comprehensionofnarrative texts with cultural emphasismeasured by comprehension questionson the less familiar(France) and more familiar (Canada)passage. Table 11 outlines the second candidatemodel forthe regression on reading comprehensionof narrative texts with cultural emphasis measuredbyrecall of ideas and connections on the less familiar(France) and more familiar (Canada)passage.4.1.3.3.1 Comprehension Questions ofNarrative Texts with CulturalEmphasisTable 10 provides the candidate model forthe regression on reading comprehensionwithcultural emphasis measured byoral literal and inferential comprehensionquestions. The modelwas statistically significant for the culturallyless familiar (France) passage, F (2, 69)= 17.33,p < .001, and the more familiar (Canada) passage, F (2, 69) =7.69,p< .001. The regressionanalysis further revealed that culturalword recognition less familiar contributedtoapproximately 27% and vocabulary (EVIP)5% to comprehension questions ofa culturally lessfamiliar (France) passage. By contrast the regressionanalysis further revealedthat vocabulary(EVIP) contributed to approximately10% and cultural word recognition morefamiliar 7% tocomprehension questions of a culturally morefamiliar (Canada) passage.162Table 10Modelfor the Hierarchical Regression on Comprehension Questions ofCulturally Lessand More Familiar Passages in Grade 3 French (n = 72). Predictors Entered in Order:Verbal Working Memory, Second language Cultural Knowledge, Vocabulary,Morphological Awareness, Phonological Awareness, and SpellingOutcome and Adj.Predictor B SEBftt R R2A4df FCQLFCWRLF 0.37 0.09 .45 4.39 .28 .27 .71V (EVIP) 0.04 0.02 .252.44*.33 .05 .29 (2,69)l7.33***CQMFV (EVIP) 0.05 0.02 .322.98**.11 .10 .59CWRMF 0.27 0.11 .282.50*.18 .07 .41 (2,69)7.69***Note. Abbreviations of variables signify the following in order: CQ LF (ComprehensionQuestions LessFamiliar), CWRLF (Cultural Word Recognition Less Familiar), V (EVIP) (VocabularyEvil’), CQ MF(Comprehension Questions More Familiar), CWR MF (Cultural Word Recognition More Familiar).***p<001**p<01*p<.05.What participants comprehended when they answered orally both literal and inferentialquestions on a cultural less familiar passage (France) in Grade 3 willbe examined first.According to Cohen (1992), given the relationship between the effect size(/)and R2 for themodel with cultural word recognition less familiar and vocabulary (EVIP), the value ofR2 waslarge (.33). The effect size for the candidate model was large (.50). The relative importance ofeach predictor variable to the regression model as shown in Table 10 was assessed by therelativePratt Index (Thomas et a!., 1998). According to the relative Pratt index in Table 10, culturalwordrecognition less familiar(4= .71) and vocabulary (EVIP)(4.29) are, in relative order, themost important predictor variables in the regression on comprehensionquestions less familiar163(France). Based on the principle, if dj < l/2p = .08(p is the number of predictor variables), allthe other variables were considered unimportant. This result was also confirmedby/3j(1 - 1) = 0 < .08. All other variables were removed.By comparison, what subject comprehended when they answered orally bothliteral andinferential questions on a culturally more familiar passage (Canada) in Grade3 will beexamined next.According to Cohen (1992), given the relationship between the effect size(/)and R2 forthe model with vocabulary (EVIP) and cultural word recognition more familiar, thevalue ofR2was medium (.18) The effect size for the candidate model was also medium (.22).The relativeimportance of each predictor variable to the regression model as shown in Table10 was assessedby the relative Pratt Index (Thomas et al., 1998). According to the relative Pratt indexin Table10, vocabulary (EVIP) (d = .59) and cultural word recognition more familiar(d = .41) are, inrelative order, the most important predictor variables in the regression on comprehensionquestions of the more familiar passage (Canada). Based on the principle, ifdj < l/2p= .08 (p isthe number of predictor variables), all the other variables were considered unimportant.Thisresult was also confirmed by /3 (1 - 1) = 0 < .08. All other variables were removed.Recall was used as a second measure of comprehension. Although,recall as a measuremay be seen as bearing on memory rather than comprehension, Yuill (1998)defends recall as ameasure of comprehension because the wording of a particular wordor phrase is often crucial tomaintaining the integrity of the interpretation.4.1.3.3.2 Recall of Narrative Texts with Cultural EmphasisTable 11 shows the second regression model on reading comprehensionof narrative textswith cultural emphasis measured by oral recall of ideas and connections. As reportedin Table11, the regression model was statistically significant for the culturally less familiar(France)164F (2, 69) = 50.78,p< .001 and the more familiar (Canada), F (2, 69) = 58.84,p< .001 passages.The regression analysis further revealed that cultural word production less familiar contributed toapproximately 59% and morphological awareness 8%, to recall of ideas and connections ofaculturally less familiar (France) passage. By contrast, the regression analysis further revealed thatcultural word production more familiar contributed to approximately 59% and vocabulary(EVIP) 2%, to recall of ideas and connections of a culturally more familiar (Canada)passage.Ad].B SEBftt R R2A4 df F4.41 0.46 .789.66***.59 .59 .870.29 0.14 .182.07*.70 .08 .13 (2,69)50.78***RICMFCWPMF 3.91 0.39 .76l0.16***.60 .59 .94V(EVIP) 0.17 0.08 .162.18*.62 .02 .06 (2,69)58.84***Note. Abbreviations of variables signif’ the following in order: RIC LF (Recall Ideas ConnectionsLessFamiliar), CWP LF (Cultural Word Production Less Familiar), MA (Morphological Awareness),RIC MF(Recall Ideas Connections More Familiar), CWP MF (Cultural Word Production More Familiar),V (EVIP)(Vocabulary EVIP).***p<.ool. **p<.ol. *p<.o5.What participants comprehended when they recalled a less familiar culturalpassage(France) in Grade 3 will be examined first. According to Cohen (1992), given therelationship165Table 11Modelfor the Hierarchical Regression on Recall ofCulturally Less and More FamiliarPassages in Grade 3 French (n = 72). Predictors Entered in Order: Predictors Enteredin Order: Verbal Working Memoiy, Second language Cultural Knowledge, Vocabulary,Morphological Awareness, Phonological Awarenes and SpellingOutcome andPredictorRICLFCWP LFMAbetween the effect size(/)and R2 for the model withcultural word productionless familiar andmorphological awareness,the values ofR2 was large(.70). The effect size forthe candidatemodel was also large (2.29). Therelative importance ofeach predictor variable tothe regressionmodel as shown in Table11 was assessed by the relativePratt Index (Thomas et al.,1998).According to the relative Prattindex in Table 11, culturalword production lessfamiliar (di, .87)and morphological awareness(4=.13) are, in relative order,the most importantpredictorvariables in the regressionon recall of ideas and connectionsof the less familiarpassage(France). Based on the principleif4< l/2p .08(pis the number of predictorvariables), all theother variables were consideredunimportant. This resultwas also confirmedby (1 - 1) =0 <.08. All other variables were removed,including spelling althoughit appeared in the initialmodel.By comparison, whatparticipants comprehendedwhen they recalleda more familiarcultural passage (Canada)in Grade 3 will be examinednext.According to Cohen (1992),given the relationship betweenthe effect size(/)and R2 forthe model with culturalword production more familiarand vocabulary (EVIP),the value ofR2was extremely large (.62).The effect size for the candidatemodel was also large (1.65).Therelative importance of eachpredictor variable to the regressionmodel as shown in Table11 wasassessed by the relative Pratt Index(Thomas et a!., 1998). Accordingto the relative Pratt indexinTable 11, cultural wordproduction more familiar(4= .94) and vocabulary(EVIP)(4= .06)are, in relative order, themost important predictorvariables in the regressionon recall of ideasand connections of the morefamiliar passage (Canada).Based on the principle,if dj < l/2p = .08(p is the number of predictor variables),all the other variables wereconsidered unimportant.Thisresult was also confirmedby /3 (1 - 1) = 0 < .08. All othervariables were removed.1664.2 Qualitative Findings - Research Question 4 (Participants’Perception of and Preferencein Cultural Reading Comprehension)As part of the researcher’s initial effort to draw a general profileof the participantsreading comprehension perceptions of difference in cultural elements,two open-ended questionswere asked. The two questions were “Quelle histoire as-ta trouvéela plus facile ? Pourquoi?[Which story did youfind easier? Why?]” and “Dans queue histoireest-ce que tu aimerais être?Pourquoi ? [In which story wouldyou like to be? Why?]” The twoquestions were designed toexplore the interpretative resources Grade 3 children might haveavailable for making sense ofcultural narrative texts. Seventy-two participants were interviewedin the course of this study.The study yielded a total of four categories: two categories of easinessand two categories ofpreference of a cultural passage. To provide a richnessof details, the category of easiness wasfurther broken down into two subcategories, elements of narrativeand language of the text andthe category of preference into setting and social-interactions.A synopsis of the qualitative interview findings ofthe participants readingcomprehension perceptions of difference in cultural elements fromthe interview questions ispresented in the following sections. Findings from the first interviewquestion will be presentedfirst, followed by findings from the second interviewquestion.4.2.1 Interview Question 1 (Story Easiness)The first interview question was “Quelle histoire as-ta trouvée laplus facile ? Pourquoi?[Which story didyoufind easier? Why?]”. Relevant insightscan be derived from theparticipants’ utterances for finding the culturally morefamiliar text easier, as presented in Figure3 and Table 12 below. Figure 3 shows the occurrencesof participants’ perceptions in terms ofeasiness of cultural passages.167706050405 More Familiar• Less FamiliarO30_ _LCultural PassageFigure 3. Occurrences of participants’ perceptions oneasiness of cultural passages.In terms of perceived easiness, the culturally more familiar‘story side’ tallied four timesas many as the less familiar ‘story side’. There were fifty-eight occurrencesfor the more familiaragainst fourteen for the less familiar story. Table 12 liststhe discerning themes for perceiving theculturally more familiar text easier, and displays the distributionof substantiating categoriesfrom interview data within each of the discerningthemes.IMore Familiar Less Familiar168Table 12Reasonsfor Easiness ofCulturally More Familiar over Less FamiliarPassage ComprehensionDiscerning Themes Substantiating CategoriesNo of occurrences (%)More Familiar Less Familiar1. Elements of the narrative1.1 Story structure Fewer words7 (9.72%) 1(1.40%)1.2 Setting Familiar with setting15 (20.83%) 4 (5.60%)2. Language of the text2.1 Vocabulary Easier words30 (41.67%) 9 (12.50%)Shorter words 12 (16.67%)3 (4.17%)Knowledge/Use of words 19 (26.39%)4 (5.60%)Note. The number of occurrences takes into account participants mentioningmore than one theme.In terms of the reasons given for perceiving the more familiar passageas easier than theless familiar passage, the themes discerned from the interview datawere the elements of thenarrative and the language of the text.4.2.1.1 Elements of the NarrativeThe two sub-themes most strongly echoed in the elementsof the narrative were the storystructure and the setting of the story.The story structure was characterized by the respondents interms of the perception of thenumber of words in the story. In total, seven participants perceivedto be fewer words in the169more familiar passage,as opposed to one participant for theless familiar passage. Inonesubject’s words (Excerpt 1 — 680):“Le lunch parce qu’ily a moms de mots. C’est plus facile a lire etje comprends mieux.”[The lunch because there are fewerwords. It is easier to read andI understand better.]The number of words was perceivedto make the text not only easierto read but also easier tounderstand.The second key aspect in theelements of the narrative themewas the knowledge aboutand familiarity with the settingof the more familiar story. Fifteenparticipants stated they knewthe environment where lunchrecess took place in the more familiarpassage, in contrast with fourparticipants for the less familiarpassage. Two participants describedthe setting in the morefamiliar story by drawing a parallelwith their daily lunch recessexperience (Excerpts 2 and 3—70 and 22B):“... je suis familière avec le lunch dansIa classe, parce que c’est dansclasse comme ici.”[...I am familiar with lunch inthe classroom, because it is inthe classroom like here.]and“... on mange comme ça dansIa classe.”[...we eat like this in the classroom.]Excerpts 2 and 3, respectively froma girl and a boy, highlight that participantswere familiarwith the environment of the more familiartext as they eat in a similar wayin their classroom.A number of participants also commentedthat they perceived themore familiar text aseasier because they were familiarwith the infonnation in the morefamiliar environment. Richinformative details included theteacher’s location and actionsduring lunch recess as oneparticipant expressed (Excerpt4— 67B):“Le professeur aussi mangeson sandwich a son bureau etle téléphone ring. C’est pareildans la classe.”[The teacher also eats his sandwichat his desk and the phone ringsin the classroom. It isthe same in the classroom.]170Another participant further echoed being familiar with the environment ofthe more familiarpassage (Excerpt 5— 40G):“Le lunch parce que plus de les informations que tu connais.”[Le lunch because more information that you know.]The underlying feature of the statements is that the participants perceived themorefamiliar text to be easier to understand because the story had fewerwords. Participants were alsofamiliar with the setting, in particular the details of the environment.Familiarity with the setting,and details of the more familiar story echoed in excerpts 1to 5, which corroborate the significantdifferences of the quantitative results from section 4.1.1. Asa result, participants recalled 6%more of the supporting ideas and 12% more details of the culturallymore familiar story than theless familiar story (see Table 6).4.2.1.2 Language of the TextThe second theme emerging from the first interview question relatedto the language ofthe text. The sole item most strongly echoed was the vocabulary ofthe story. Among the reasonsinvoked, 41.67% of the participants perceived that theculturally more familiar passage hadeasier words (vs. 12.50% in the less familiar), 16.67% shorterwords (vs. 4.17% in the lessfamiliar) and 26.93% knew and used the words daily (vs.5.60% in the less familiar).Easier words were by far the largest of all vocabulary categories, withthirty out ofseventy-two participants emphasizing its saliency. As one participantstated (Excerpt 6— 14G):“Le lunch parce que le lunch il y a les mots sont plus faciles.”[Le lunch because le lunch there are words are easier.JParticipants gave examples of which words they perceivedas ‘easier’ in the morefamiliar passage. The words were grouped in the same two categoriesused on the CulturalWords Sheet, namely target words and story-themewords. In total four out of the eight targetwords in the more familiar passage were perceived as ‘easier’as opposed to one target word in171the less familiar passage. The four target words perceivedas easier in the more familiar passagewere ‘la cloche’ [the bell], ‘le lunch’ [the lunch],‘le professeur’ [the teacher], and ‘nos casiers’[our lockers/compartments (in the coatroom)]. Thereason mentioned for perceiving thesetargetwords as easier was their knowledge of the words. Inthe less familiar passage, the only targetword perceived as easier was ‘une table’ [a table].The same number of story-theme words was perceivedas easier in both the more and lessfamiliar passages. In the more familiar passage, thetwo most mentioned story-theme wordsperceived as easier were ‘une banane’ [a banana]and ‘un biscuit’ [a cookie]. In the less familiarpassage, the two story-theme words perceived as easierwere ‘du fromage’ [cheese] and ‘un verred’eau’ [a glass ofwater]. As one participant furthernoted, the words were also easierto read andunderstand, which reinforces what participants echoedpreviously in the elements of narrative-story structure category (Excerpt 7 — 26B):“Le lunch parce qu’ily a les plus faciles mots et c’est plus facile a lire. Je comprends plusbon.”[Le lunch because there are easier words and it is easierto read I understand moregood.]By contrast, in the less familiar passage, thirteen participants(18%) perceived four targetwords as difficult: ‘la sonnerie’ [the bell], ‘la cantine’[the dining hail], ‘la cantinière’ [the dininghall lady], ‘notre maltresse’ [our teacher]. In addition,nine children (12.50%) perceived threestory-theme words in the less familiarpassage as difficult. One participant illustrated theserecurring story-theme words in his statement (Excerpt8— 30B):“Le déjeuner les mots sont plus difficiles et plusconfusing. Qui sont des mots comme‘chantilly’, ‘circulent’, ‘bifteck haché’.”[Le déjeuner words are more dfJIcultand confusing. Who are the words like ‘cream(puff)’, ‘move around’, ‘ground beef/steak’.]The second vocabulary subcategory perceived as makingthe more familiar passage easierto read related to the length of words. Twelve participantsperceived the words in the more172familiar passage to be shorter, as opposed to three participants in the less familiarpassage. Thevariation of the wording varied as the following quotes exemplified (Excerpts 9 and 10— 6G andlOB):“C’était plus facile parce que les mots c’étaient plus petits.”[It was easier because the words it is smaller.]and“Le lunch parce que les mots sont plus courts.”[Le lunch because the words are shorter.]When participants were asked to provide specific examples of words they perceivedto beshorter in the more familiar passage, they recounted one target word, ‘Ia cloche’[the bell], andthree story-theme words ‘1 1h45’ [11:45], ‘une banane’ [a banana], and ‘un biscuit’[a cookie].No target or story-theme words were perceived to be shorter in the less familiarpassage. On thecontrary, fourteen participants perceived one specific target word ‘la cantinière’ [thedining haillady], and one story-theme word ‘(ehou) chantilly’ [cream (puff)] as longer in theless familiarpassage.The last key aspect in the emergent vocabulary category was knowledge anduse ofwords. Nineteen participants (26.3 8%) stated they knew the words from the morefamiliarpassage and used them daily. The following quotes illustrated the participants’ knowledgeof avariety of words from the more familiar passage (Excerpts 11 and 12— 34G and41B):“Je connais plusieurs mots parce que j ‘ ai compris plus etj ‘ai appris les mots commelongtemps, comme ‘pupitre’, ‘sandwich’.”[I know several words because I understood more and I learned the wordslike long ago,like ‘desk’, ‘sandwich‘.1and“Parce que c’ était les mots que je sais plus et que je use comme ‘cloche’, ‘easier’,‘boIte alunch’, ‘pupitre’, ‘sandwich’, ‘banane’, ‘biscuit’. Dans le premier (le déjeuner),les motsc’est comme nouveau a moi.”173[Because it is the words I know more and that I use like ‘bell’, ‘compartment(in thecoatroom) “lunch box’, ‘desk ‘sandwich’, ‘banana ‘cookie’. Inthefirstaedejeuner), the words it is like new to me.]Fifteen participants (20.83%) expressed knowing and using the following words.Six Target Words: ‘nos casiers’ [our compartments (in the coatroom)],‘la cloche’ [thebell], ‘notre bolte a lunch’ [our lunchboxl, ‘le lunch’ [lunch], ‘le professeur’ [theteacher] and ‘son pupitre’ [his desk].andSeven Story-Theme Words: ‘1 1h45’ [11:45], ‘une banane’ [a banana],‘un biscuit’ [acookie], ‘son bureau’ [his desk], ‘deuxjus’ [twojuices], ‘mon sandwich’[my sandwich],and ‘ranger’ [to put aside].Four participants stated that they did know some of the words in the less familiarpassage,such as one target word ‘le déjeuner’ [the lunch], and one story-themeword ‘du fromage’[cheese]. Eleven participants (15.27%) highlighted that they did not knownor use four targetwords in the less familiar passage such as ‘Ia cantine’ [the dining hai)j,‘la cantinière’ [the dininghall lady], ‘se metire en rang’ [to line up], ‘notre maltresse’ [our teacher],and ‘un plateau’ [atray] as well as two story-theme words, ‘un bifteck haché’[a gyound beef/steak], and ‘un chouchantilly’ [a cream puff].These findings show that vocabulary plays a major role in understandinga text withcultural emphasis as echoed in excerpts 6 to 12. Participants’ perceptionsof easiness of the morefamiliar cultural passage corroborate with the quantitative results fromsection 4.1.1. Resultsfrom Table 6 showed that differences in the less and more familiarpassages for story-themewords recognition, target words production and story-themewords production, were statisticallysignificant. As previously mentioned, when participants recalled eachstory, they produced (saida word in their recall) 13% more of both the cultural targeted andstory theme words of the morefamiliar story. After reading each story, participants also recognized 25%more cultural story-theme words of the more familiar text compared to the less familiar text.174In terms of reading comprehension of narrative texts with cultural emphasis measuredbyanswering literal and inferential questions, participants’ total score onthe questions was 7%higher for the more familiar passage. Participants also inferred 15% morefrom the more familiarthan the less familiar story. It was noted in Chapter 2 that second languagelearners consideredvocabulary as the most important component in understanding what theyread. Vocabulary hasbeen identified as the most contributing factor to reading comprehension forboth first andsecond language readers (Laufer, 1989, 2003). Having a large vocabularyand goodcomprehension can also be seen as an “indicator of good world knowledge”(Hsueh-Chao &Nation, 2000, p. 405).World knowledge includes second language culturalknowledge(Bernhardt, 1991b).Some differences were also found in the qualitative analysis of thepatterns ofconnections made by individual participants as they constructed theirinterpretations of the text.When retelling and answering the literal questions about the culturallymore familiar passage, themajority of readers used a sequence of connections tobe able to state what happened at the endof the story. Participants who conformed to this pattern seemedto rely on their knowledge of thenarrative genre (discourse features of narrative text:who, what, when, where) and lunch recessschema to generate a concluding statement. The ideas leadingto a conclusion occurred morefrequently in the retelling of the culturallymore familiar passage.Fifty-seven out of seventy-two participantsalso answered the literal question “Whathappened at the end?” and made a concluding statement when recallingthe more familiar text.However, an overwhelming majority of participants,forty-two in total out of seventy-two, couldnot accurately provide an answer to the literal question“What happened at the end?” nor make aconcluding statement when recalling the less familiartext. The gaps between connectionssteadily increased until the connections disappeared all together.175Statistically significant differences werefound in the number of main ideas,supportingideas and details recalled. Although childrenrecalled more main ideas from the culturallylessfamiliar passage, they recalled less supportingideas and details from the lessfamiliar passage.Connections were marked by recallinglinks between ideas (main ideasto the supporting ideasand/or supporting ideas to details) leadingto a concluding statement through connectingwordsrelated to purpose (pour [for]) andsuccession (ensuite [then]), in boththe culturally less andmore familiar passage. When the participantsanswered explicit questions relatedto bothpassages, they inferred more from the morefamiliar than the less familiar passage.They showeda deeper understanding of themore familiar passage. Readers hadthe appropriate schema tocomprehend the culturally more familiartext but a lack of it for the less familiartext.4.2.2 Interview Question 2 (StoryPreference)The second interview question was“Dans queue histoire est-ce que tuaimerais être?Pourquoi? [In which story wouldyou like to be? Why?]”. Relevant insightscould be derivedfrom the participants’ utterancesof preferring to engage in the less familiarpassage, as presentedin Figure 4 and Table 13 below. Figure4 shows occurrences of participants’preference for eachof the cultural passages.17645403530a25a2015ELCultural PassageFigure 4. Occurrences of participants’ preferences of cultural passages.In terms of preference, the less familiar ‘story side’ tallied forty-twooccurrences, themore familiar ‘story side’ tallied thirty occurrences. Table 13lists the discerning themes forpreferring to engage in the less familiar text and displays the distributionof substantiatingcategories from interview data within each of the discerned themes.•42U Less FamliarMore FamiliarLess Famliar More Familiar177Table 13Reasonsfor Preference ofCulturally Less Familiarover More Familiar PassageComprehensionDiscerning Themes SubstantiatingCategories No of occurrences(%)Less Familiar More Familiar1. Setting1.1 Curiosity Discovery ofnew place 20 (27.77%) 1(1.34%)1.2 Way of Eating Relaxing, fun8 (11.11%) 5 (6.94%)1.3 Duration More time toeat 9 (12.50%) 2(2.77%)1.4 Food Quantity, varietyandperceived tastiness15 (20.83%) 11 (15.30%)2. Social interactions2.1 Friends Better rapportwithfriends, closeness,sharing 19(26.39%) 5 (6.94%)2.2 Teacher More present,attentive 6 (8.33%) 2(2.77%)Note. The number of occurrences takes into accountparticipants mentioning more thanone theme.In terms of the reasons given forpreferring to engage in the less familiarthan the morefamiliar passage, the themes discerned fromthe interview data were the settingof the story andsocial interactions.4.2.2.1 SettingIn relation to the setting or environmentof the less familiar passage, thefour sub-themesmost strongly echoed were curiosity aboutthe location to eat lunch, the way ofeating, theduration of lunch and the food proposed.Discovery was the most importantaspect of engagement in the less familiarpassage.178Twenty participants perceived to be more engaged in the less familiarstory because they werecurious about the setting, discovering a new place to eat lunch,as opposed to only one subjectfor the more familiar passage. Twelve out of the twenty participantsstressed a curiosity aboutdesiring to experience what it was like to eat in ‘la cantine’[the dining halt] equating it with acafeteria. They perceived ‘la cantine’ as being different from whatthey were used to, usually theclassroom. The following quote exemplified this subeategory (Excerpt13 — 8B):“Le déjeuner parce qu’ily a une comme cafeteria. Parce que c’est different, c’est unchangement. Parce que j’ai pas allé a une commenttu dis le mot pour cafeteria?”[Le dejeuner because there is like a cafeteria. Because itis djfferent, it is a change.Because I did not go to a how do you say the wordforcafeteria?]Few participants stated their preference for engagingin the more familiar story by beingable to answer the phone. This highlightsa cultural reference to the less familiar setting. InFrance, there are seldom phones in the classroom.One participant described his thoughts(Excerpt 14 — 63B):“Le lunch parce queje peux répondre ala téléphone.Le professeur a laisse le petit garconcomme moi parler sur la téléphone. J’aime répondrea la téléphone clans la classe.”[Le lunch because I can answer the phone. The teacherlet the little boy like me talk onthe phone. I like answering the phone in the classroom.]The second key aspect that emerged from the settingtheme related to the perceived wayof eating in the less familiar passage. A total of eightparticipants perceived that participants atein a more relaxing and fun way during the lunch recess,in contrast with five participants for themore familiar passage. As one participant described(Excerpt 15 — 47G):“C’est plus fun avec tes amis a une grande tableavec cinq. Je veux manger a une grandetable. Tu dois pas asseoir a ton pupitre. Pourque quand tu es dans les pupitres,ton amin’est pas avec toi. Tu peux pas asseoir a côté de lesmais quand tu as une grande table tupeux asseoir a coté de les, de tes amis.Je ne sais pas comment c’est.”[ft morefun with yourfriends at a big table withfive.I want to eat at a big table. Youdon ‘t have to seat at your desk For that when you arein the deslç yourfriend is not withyou. You can ‘t seat near them but when you are ata big table you can seat near them,yourfriends. I don ‘t know how it is.]179Participants also expressed that the durationof the lunch inspired them to preferthe lessfamiliar passage. Nine participants preferredthe less familiar story. Twoparticipants preferredthe more familiar story. The duration oflunch was not mentioned inany of the passages, only thetime at which the bell rang for the lunch-recess.Participants perceived and inferredthat lunchwas longer in the less familiar passage, preferringthe less familiar over the more familiarpassage. This concurs with the previouslymentioned participants’ perceptionof lunch (seeExcerpt 15) as being more relaxedas there is more time to eat. With a perceivedlonger lunch,participants said they would liketo have more time to eat, to enjoythe food and not be rushed.As one participant summarized (Excerpt16— 56G):“Le déjeuner parce que je peux mangermore calme. Ici on mange juste en15 minutes.C’est plus more fun manger lent. Tu peuxmanger beaucoup des choses.”[Le dejeuner because I can eat more calmly.Here we eatjust in 15 minutes.ft is more(more) fun to eat slow. You caneat a lot ofthings. ]Some participants preferred having lesstime to eat as inferred from themore familiarpassage. They perceivedto have more time to go outside and play.Although in the less familiarstory, the characters also went outsideto play after eating. Such a perceptionhighlighted thefamiliar cultural background knowledgeof the participants’ similardaily experience in Canada.In one participant’s words (Excerpt17 — 23B):“Le lunch ii a plus short lunch hour pour manger.J’aime parce que tu peux allerdehorsquand tu as fmi de manger et allervite pour jouer.”[Le lunch it has more short lunchhour to eat. I like becauseyou can go outside when youarefinished eating and gofast toplay.]Food provided another reasonfor preferring to engage in the lessfamiliar story. Thepreference was expressed in differentways, from perceived quantity,variety and tastiness. Asone participant validated (Excerpt 18 -12B):“Je préfère être dans le premierpour quej’ai pas toujours la mémenourriture. Tu peuxcommander et je veux avoir plus denourriture. Comme le food quiest fresh.”180[Iprefer to be in thefirst (referring to the lessfamiliar text) for that Idon ‘t have alwaysthe samefood. You can order and I want to have morefood Like thefood that isfresh.]For eleven out of the fifteen participants, the culinary choices tallyingthe highestfrequencies were story-theme words ‘de la purée’ [puree] - participantsperceiving it as hashbrowns - ‘un chou chantilly’ [a cream puff], and ‘dufromage’ [cheese]. A fair number ofparticipants stressed that the more familiar story reflected what theyeat and drink everyday, e.g.,a sandwich, cookies, and juice and characterized them as “I have alwaysthe samefood”.The underlying feature of the statements is that the participants expresseda preferencefor the less familiar text because they wanted to discover whatit was like to have lunch in ‘acantine’ [a dining hall]. Alongside the discovery camethe perception of being able to have timeto eat in a more relaxed and fun way with a wider choice offood on the menu and perceivedtastiness. Unfamiliarity with the setting where the menu is differentdaily (although cheese andpastry are a constant menu item of the daily lunch in Franceat school or at home) bears heavilyon unfamiliar cultural schemata of the participants. The participantsnevertheless expressed adesire to experience the culture.4.2.2.2 Social InteractionsThe second theme emerging from the second interview question relatedto the socialinteractions with friends and the teacher. The role of friends, being ableto eat with a number ofthem (five in total) at a big table was perceived by 26.29%of the participants as an importantfactor in engaging with the less familiar story as opposedto 6.94% with the more familiar story.One participant captured well the preferenceof perceiving the importance of closeness, laughing,talking and having a good time in the less familiar story (Excerpt19— 28B):“Le déjeuner c’est une bonne place a être. C’est amusant. Parceque quand ii allait a latable, je peux ne en mangeant, us ont nigole, us ont dela fun.”[Le dejeuner it is a goodplace to be. It isfun. Because whenhe went at the table, I canlaugh while eating, they laughea they hadfun.]181The perceived sense of ‘inclusion’was opposed to a perceivedsense of ‘exclusion’ in themore familiar story. Althoughthe more familiar passagedid not mention that studentsdid nottalk, the following quote exemplifieda sense of quietness the participantsassociated with beingalone or excluded (Excerpt 20— 6G):“Le lunch quand tu es toute seuletu peux pas parler ettu manges seul. Tu ne mangespasa la comment tu dis, cantine,juste sur ton pupitre.”[Le lunch when you are all aloneyou can not talk andyoueat alone. You don ‘t eat at thehow do you say, ‘cantine juston yourdesk.1The second social interactionsubcategory associated with preferringthe less familiarpassage related to the role ofthe teacher in the passage. 8.33%of the participants perceivedtheteacher as having a more prominentrole. The teacher wasperceived as being moreattentive inthe less familiar storyas opposed to 2.77% in the more familiarstory. The following quotes,respectively by a boyand a girl illustrated this idea(Excerpts 21 and 22— 28Band 48G):“... quand elle circulejepeux être gentil parcequ’on va en rang a mangerlelunch ...“[...when she goes through I canbe nice because we stand infile to eat the lunch...]and“Le déjeuner parce qu’ily a une maItresse qui amène les élèves lacantine. C’estimportant de la maItresse. Jesais pas ce que c’est.”[Le dejeuner because there isa teacher that brings the studentsto the cantine. It isimportant ofthe teacher.I don ‘t know what it is.]The last excerpt (Excerpt 22)also emphasized the sense ofcuriosity as previouslymentioned indesiring to engage and discovermore of the less familiarstory setting.Social interactions with classmatesand teacher would appear tobe a key aspect of whyparticipants were moreengaged with the culturallyless familiar passage than withthe morefamiliar passage. It maybe that participants tested feltmore engaged in a closerrelationship withschool friends and less excludedby the teacher in the less familiarcultural passage.1824.3 Synthesis of ResultsQuantitative data analysis using SPSS with some exploratory qualitativeanalysis usingNVivo were performed. Linear regression analysis was used to analyzequantitative resultsobtained. The exploratory qualitative analysis was done with thecontent analysis of interviewtranscripts.Regressions analyses were used to find the percentageof explained variance of eachpredictor variable: (a) phonological awareness, spelling,verbal working memory, vocabulary,and morphological awareness in word reading, (b) phonologicalawareness, spelling, verbalworking memory, vocabulary, and morphologicalawareness in reading comprehension ofisolated sentences, and (c) phonological awareness, spelling,verbal working memory,vocabulary, morphological awareness and second languagecultural knowledge in readingcomprehension of narrative texts with cultural emphasis.The regression models were statisticallysignificant in all cases. It means that the mean square ofthe models (MSM) is not zero. The nullhypotheses should be rejected. All regression coefficientsdiffered also from zero. The effect sizefor all four models were medium to large capturing the relationshipand exploring the nature ofassociation between the variables in the study. Table 14 below synthesizesthe quantitativeresults on the regression on word reading, reading comprehensionof isolated sentences andreading comprehension of narrative texts with cultural emphasis(measured by comprehensionquestions and recall of ideas and connections).183Table 14Synthesis ofQuantitative Results on Regressions in Grade3 French (n =72)Outcome Variable Predictor VariableProportionofVariance(%)Reading Comprehension ofNarrative Texts with Cultural EmphasisComprehension QuestionsLess Familiar PassageMore familiar PassageLess Familiar PassageMore familiar PassageCultural Word RecognitionVocabulary (EVIP)Vocabulary (EVIP)Cultural Word RecognitionPratt EffectIndex Size(d1)(t2)Word Identification (FIAT) Phonological Awareness37 .61Spelling (FIAT) 9.39 .92Reading Comprehension of MorphologicalAwareness 20 1.00.27Isolated Sentences275105.71.29.59.41.50.22Recall of Ideas and ConnectionsCultural Word Production59 .87Morphological Awareness8 .13 2.29Cultural Word Production 59.94Vocabulary (EVIP) 2.06 1.65Note. The relative Pratt index c4, is usedfor ordering the importance of predictor variables.The effect sizefrepresents the effect size for the candidate model.184Participants readfaster and recalledmore of thematerial dealingwith the morefamiliarculture andtended to distortthe informationfrom the lessfamiliar culture.The cultural originofa text and havingsecond languagecultural knowledgelead studentsto achievea more detailedreading comprehensionof the culturallymore familiarpassage. It wasalso found thatculture-specific vocabularyand morphologicalawareness wereimportantto the comprehensionofcultural passages.The exploratoryqualitative fmdingscorroboratedsome of thequantitativeresults.Interviews revealedthat participantsperceivedthe culturally morefamiliar passageas easierpointing to familiaritywith culture-specificvocabulary andthe settingof the story.By contrast,participantsperceived theless familiarcultural passageas more engagingbased on theircuriosity upon discoveringthe lunch setting.They alsofelt more engagedin a closer relationshipwith schoolfriends andless excludedby the teacherin the less familiarcultural passage.185CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSIONThe ability to read fluently and comprehend adequately is considereda hallmark ofskilled reading in first and second languages (Grabe,2002; Koda, 2005). Readingcomprehension is central to French immersion schooling.The steady increase in early Frenchimmersion enrolment combined with a high transferrate out of the programme because ofreading difficulties make predictors of Frenchas a second language reading comprehension ofprime importance. Identifying the concurrent predictorsof French reading comprehension givesus a rationale to guide second language teachers on howto provide students the support neededto achieve academic success. This focused support wouldgive students the abilities needed tosucceed in French immersion and eventually encouragethem to remain in the French immersionprogramme.To be able to learn the content subject courses taughtin French, French immersionstudents needed to understand what they read. It is expectedthat students in those programs areable to deal with narrative or expository texts in Frenchin a daily manner. A narrative textincludes such elements as theme, plot, conflict(s), resolution,characters and setting. Expositorytexts, on the other hand, are written to convey, describeor explain non-fictional information. Thenarrative text uses story to inform and distract.The expository text uses facts and details,opinions and examples to do the same. French immersionstudents need to understand both typesof material, though “the development of fluent readingabilities by second language studentsis achallenging undertaking” (Carrell& Grabe, 2002,p.235). Fluent reading deservesa detailedanalysis by teachers and administrators of French immersionprogrammes who take theirstudents’ academic progress and success seriously.186The present research was conducted in aneffort to examine and identifythe predictors ofreading comprehension among French immersionGrade 3 students in BritishColumbia, Canada.Reading is defined as a highly complex, interactiveand compensatory process inthis research.The meaning and interaction betweenthe linguistic and cultural characteristicsof the text dependto a measurable extent on the reader’s existingsecond language cultural knowledge.The currentresearch is focused on word readingand reading comprehension withvarious predictors such asphonological awareness, spelling, verbalworking memory, morphologicalawareness,vocabulary and second languagecultural knowledge.Having examined the quantitative resultsand the qualitative interviewfindings of thisstudy, it is important to contextualizeboth and reflect on the theoretical,pedagogical andprogramme development implicationsof this study. In this chapter thequantitative results andthe qualitative interview findingsare considered in light of the compensatorymodel ofsecondlanguage reading (Bemhardt, 2005).A summary of the main quantitativeresults and qualitativeinterview findings of the presentstudy will be presented. The quantitativeresults and thequalitative interview findingswill also be discussed in the contextof the existing researchliterature on second languagestudents’ reading comprehensiondescribed in Chapter 2. Thetheoretical, pedagogical and programmedevelopment implications will alsobe addressed.5.1 Summary of ResultsThe first research question addressedthe role of phonologicalawareness, spelling, verbalworking memory, vocabulary andmorphological awareness in wordreading. Results from thequantitative analysis establishedthat phonological awarenessand spelling predicted wordreading.The second research question addressedthe role of the same predictorsmentioned above inreading comprehension of isolatedsentences (Khomsi, 1999). Resultsfrom the quantitative187analysis showed that morphological awareness predictedreading comprehension of isolatedsentences.The third research question investigated predictors of reading comprehensionof narrativetexts with cultural emphasis. The results showed that second languagecultural knowledge,vocabulary and morphological awareness were importantfor comprehending a text with acultural emphasis. The more familiar text (Canada)was read faster than the less familiar text(France). Readers recalled more, and made more appropriateelaborations on the more familiartext than on the less familiar text. Participants recalledmore supporting ideas and details in thepassage that was culturally more familiar. However, participantsrecalled more of the main ideasof the less familiar text than of the more familiartext. When participants were asked to recalleach story, they remembered more of the cultural targetedand story-theme words from the morefamiliar story than the less familiar story. In terms of readingcomprehension of narrative textswith cultural emphasis measured by answering literaland inferential questions, the total score onthe questions was higher for the more familiar passagethan for the less familiar passage.Participants inferred more from the more familiar thanthe less familiar story as well.Findings from the interview relating to the fourthresearch question indicated thatparticipants perceived the more familiarpassage as easier. They perceived that the morefamiliarpassage had less words, easier words and shorter words. Participantsacknowledged having abetter knowledge of words and were more familiar with thesetting. Participants also perceivedthe less familiar cultural passage as more engaging. Theirperception was based on their curiosityupon discovering the lunch setting, the way of eating,the duration of lunch, and the quantity,choice and tastiness of food items in France. Participantsfelt that the characters in the storieswere more engaged in a closer relationship with schoolfriends and less excluded by the teacherin the less familiar cultural passage than in the Canadiansetting.1885.2 DiscussionThe present study was intendedto investigate the predictors of word readingand readingcomprehension of Grade 3 Frenchimmersion students. The study was also intended toinvestigate what the students perceivedas different in the culturally less andmore familiar textthat affected their readingcomprehension as well as which culturalcontext they preferred andwhy. This section will interpretthe data by “transcending factual data andcautious analysis andprobing into what is to be made ofthem” (Vakalisa, 1995,p.1266). Based on the findingsof thepresent study, the role of lowerlevel skills (phonological awareness and spelling)in wordreading, the role of higher-level skills(morphological awareness and vocabulary)in readingcomprehension, and the importanceof second language cultural knowledge andengagement inreading comprehension with culturalemphasis will be discussed.5.2.1 The Role of Lower LevelSkills in Word ReadingThe first question in this studyconcerned the best predictors of word readingamongphonological awareness, verbal workingmemory, spelling, vocabulary, and morphologicalawareness in Grade 3 French immersionstudents.The results from regression analysesrevealed in third grade that phonological awarenessand spelling predicted early readingskills. The results of this study correspondto and reinforceprevious findings found infirst language and second language contexts aswell as in Frenchimmersion educational settings.Phonological awareness was the strongestpredictor compared to spelling and accountedfor a substantial proportionof the variance (3 7%) in French word readingability. The resultsconfirm that French immersion Grade 3 studentsrely heavily on ‘breaking the code’, whichishighly related to phonological awareness. Frenchimmersion Grade 3 students use thephonological knowledge in order to read words,leading to a phonological-based decodingthat189could be automated. The present study did not differentiatephonemic or syllabic awarenesswithin phonological awareness as previous Frenchimmersion studies did (Bruck &Genesee,1995; Bruck Ct a!., 1997; Rubin& Turner, 1989; Tingley et a!., 2004). It blended phonemicandsyllabic tasks under the umbrella of phonologicalawareness.The findings of the present studyshow that phonological awareness predictsearlyreading skills and confirm previous resultsfrom other studies in the French immersioncontextthat also blended phonemic and syllabic tasks(Comeau et al., 1999; Cormier& Kelson, 2000;Lafrance & Gottardo, 2005; Tingleyet a!., 2004). As a reader grasps the principlesof phonology,his/her decoding improves. This suggeststhat the more phonological awareness trainingstudentsreceive in early years, the more gain couldbe expected to be made in word reading. Measuresofphonological awareness can be ofuse in screening students with regard to reading readiness.Spelling also contributes to word reading inFrench in Grade 3 French immersion studentsbut inweaker terms (9% of the variance). This findingis consistent with previous research indicatingthat spelling plays an important role inword reading and reading comprehension ina secondlanguage context (Lesaux et al., 2007).The role that phonological awarenessand spelling play in word reading in Frenchimmersion students would suggest that Frenchimmersion students probably use their knowledgeof phonology to spell words and inturn to decode the words they read. Ehri (1995,1996, 1998)argues in her developmental model that childrengo through different phases. French immersionreaders in this study recognizedwords on the basis of visual characteristicsand reading throughphonological recoding. It appearsthat the French immersion reader had at his/herdisposal thealphabetic process and internalized the classificationsof sounds that are embodied in the Frenchconventional writing system (Treiman &Bourassa, 2000). This result also correspondsto190Bernhardt’s (2005)compensatory modelofsecond language reading-first dimension,especiallythe contribution of thesound/symbol correspondences(‘Beliefs about words’)to word reading.The results suggest thatphonological awarenessand spelling are importantfor Frenchimmersion students in wordreading. By comparison,phonological awarenessand spelling didnot predict reading comprehension.A secondary goalof the present study wasto investigatewhether reading comprehensionrelies on the sameor different predictorsthan word reading instudent’s literacy acquisition.However, the skillsimportant for decodingare different fromtheones important for comprehension.The findings ofthepresent studysuggest that phonologicalawareness is a lowerlevel skill that contributesto decoding. Morphologicalawareness andvocabulary are higherlevel skills that contributeto reading comprehension.5.2.2 The Role ofHigher Level Skillsin Reading ComprehensionThe role of phonologicalawareness, verbalworking memory, spelling,vocabulary andmorphological awarenessin the predicting ofreading comprehensionin Grade 3 Frenchimmersion studentswas examined in the presentstudy. The role ofmorphologicalawareness,vocabulary and secondlanguage cultural knowledgeon reading comprehensionin the presentstudy will be discussed.The plausible reasonwhy verbal workingmemory did notemerge as apredictor of readingcomprehension of isolatedsentences will alsobe addressed.Khomsi’s (1999)test was used tomeasure reading comprehensionof isolated sentencesin the present study.Two narrative texts werealso used to measurereading comprehensionwithcultural emphasis.Morphological awarenesswas most stronglyrelated to readingcomprehensionof isolated sentencesin French measuredby Khomsi (1999) inthe present study.It explained20% of the variance.Morphological awarenessalso playeda role in the recallprotocol of theculturally less familiarpassage. It accounted for8% of the variance. Theseresults are in line withFrench monolingual(Casalis & Louis-Alexandre,2000; Plaza & Cohen,2003) and second191language learners (Bindman, 2004; Deaconet al., 2007; Droop & Verhoeven, 1998b;Wang etal., 2006) studies. It should be noted that syntaxand morphological knowledge measureswerecombined in the Bindman (2004) and Droopand Verhoeven (1998b) studies.The results ofthe present study suggestthat the higher order process, morphology,isimportant in French reading comprehension.This result supports Bialystok’s (1988) view on therelationship between morphological awarenessand reading comprehension. AccordingtoBialystok’s (1988), increasing reading comprehensionwould depend on the readers’ ability todetect, extract, or articulate some structuralproperty of language. The structuralproperty oflanguage includes awarenessof morphology or concept of word, which drawprimarily on areader’s knowledge of linguistic structure.Furthermore, according to Geva’set a!. (1997) secondlanguage proficiency basedhypothesis, higher order processes suchas morphology may beimportant in French because French is highlyinflected. Inflection is the way languagemodifiesword forms to handle grammatical relationssuch as tense conjugation, person and number.French has more inflectionthan English for example, especially in verbconjugation. A singlemorpheme usually carries information aboutperson, number, tense, aspect and mood.Adjectives, nouns and articles are considerablyless inflected, but they still havedifferent formsaccording to number and grammaticalgender. Therefore, this could also explainwhymorphological awareness is importantin French reading comprehension.In addition, the measure of morphologicalawareness used was not a puremeasure ofmorphological awareness. It also measuredreading skills. It probablyalso measured readingcomprehension because many of the morphologicalfacets measured are entangledwith semanticcontrasts (e.g., singularity vs. plurality;action occurring in the past, presentor future). The linkbetween morphological awareness and higher-orderprocesses needs to be qualifiedasmorphological awareness was strongly correlatedwith spelling (.62). Indeed, as Frenchis a192highly inflected language, many sublexical markers(e.g., plural markers, gender markers, andtense markers) are important in reading comprehension.Finally, reading comprehension in French in the present studywas assessed using1 ‘Epreuve d ‘evaluation de la competence en lecture— Révisée (LMC-R), Comprehension enlecture (Khomsi, 1999). As this test is designed to detectstudents with reading difficulties, theoral sight-reading of sentences matching it with theappropriate picture among four choices,drewon the morphological structure.In the reading comprehension of isolated sentences task,vocabulary was also needed to alesser extent than morphological awareness becausethe participants had pictures all relatedtothe topic of the sentence read. This gave the participantssupport for any vocabulary they mayhave not known. The reading comprehensionof isolated sentences task may have requiredreaders to be aware of the internal morphologyof sentences, which allowed them to understandwith accuracy the meaning of the sentencesbeing read in order to point to the rightpicture.French immersion students need to develop enhancedawareness and control of morphologicalstructures of the French language to increasetheir reading comprehension. Some comprehensiondifficulties, which are often observed in Frenchimmersion students, could be dueto a lack ofmorphological awareness or impairmentin the ability to use morphological awarenessin aproductive way. The similarity in methodology betweenthe reading comprehension of isolatedsentences and morphological awareness tasks might bean alternative explanation for the highcorrelation and independent contribution of morphologicalawareness to the readingcomprehension of isolated sentences measure.It is important to note that some of the relationshipsbetween French reading-relatedabilities and French reading may have been driven bystrong correlations. As positedby Ebri(1995, 1996, 1998), in the fourth stage‘consolidated alphabetic’ larger spellingunits (onset-193rhyme) but also morphemic units (roots) are used torecognize words as wholes. Specificlanguage features such as morphological complexity anddepth of lexical familiarity may interactwith more global second language proficiency effectsin the development of second languagereading skills (Geva et al., 1997). Vocabulary developmentmay also have an impact on thetransfer of morphological knowledge in a second language.Thus, the magnitude of therelationships uncovered in the present study to readingrequires further study.The research data analyzed in the present study suggeststhat morphological awarenessdoes play a role in the literacy of French immersionstudents. Morphological deficiency wouldbe a major impediment to comprehendingtexts for French immersion students. Knowledgeofthe morphology may help facilitate the parsingof sentences. It may also lead to moreeffectiveprocessing of ambiguities and resolutionof breakdowns in comprehension whichin turn maylead to speedier text comprehension (CarlisleCt a!., 1999; Leong, 1984).Reading comprehension of narrative texts withcultural emphasis required a higher skilllevel of semantics. Reading comprehensionof narrative texts with cultural emphasiswasmeasured using comprehension questions (literaland inferential) and recall of ideasandconnections of both a culturally less familiar narrativepassage (taking place in France) and amore familiar narrative passage (taking placein Canada).Results from regression analyses showedthat oral receptive vocabulary14was a moreimportant predictor in reading comprehension ofa culturally more familiar than a lessfamiliartext. When reading comprehension wasmeasured using literal and inferentialcomprehensionquestions, oral receptive vocabulary (EVIP) accountedfor 10% of the variance in themorefamiliar passage and for 5% in the lessfamiliar passage.14As explained in Chapter 3, it is important to remindthe reader that oral receptive vocabulary was measuredusinggeneral oral receptive vocabulary (EVIP — French PPVT).194It is not surprising that vocabulary emerges as an important predictorof readingcomprehension of narrative texts with cultural emphasis.This fmding is concurrent with that ofAlderson (2000). Alderson (2000) noted that higherlevel skills, such as lexical skills(vocabulary) is important to comprehension. Resultsof the present study also confirmed thatvocabulary is important in reading comprehensionof narrative texts with cultural emphasis(Campbell, 1981; Droop & Verhoeven, 1998a; Garcia,1991; Jiménez et al., 1995, 1996). InGarcia’s (1991) study with English second languageelementary students, English generalvocabulary was the major factor that adversely affectedthe Spanish students’ reading testperformance in English. The relationships betweenvocabulary knowledge and readingcomprehension are complex and dynamic.When second language learners cometo a word theycannot understand in a sentence, they canuse other clues to anive at an understanding(Tumneret al., 1987). These clues include knowledgeof the meaning of the sentences as wellasknowledge of the morphology, which isan aspect of grammatical form in Bernhardt’s(2005)compensatory model ofsecond language reading.This contextual facilitation contributesto thereader’s vocabulary acquisition and mayresult in an overall improvement in readingskills.Contrary to other studies in English, Frenchor French immersion, verbal workingmemory did not predict reading comprehensionin the present study. The type of taskthat wasadministered could explain this result. Ina previous French immersion study,verbal workingmemory was measured by sentence repetitionin Grade 3 students and predicted readingcomprehension (measured by CurriculumBased Assessment Reading Comprehension),bycontributing 3% of the variance (Bournot-Trites& Denizot, 2005a). In the present study, verbalworking memory was measuredby a number task (Digit Span). Such a task preventedvocabulary and syntactic demands to be confoundedwith verbal working memoryin theassigned exercise. This explanation iscorroborated by the findings of a recentstudy by Lesaux et195at. (2006) with English as asecond language Grade 4 students. TheLesaux et al. (2006) studyfound that verbal working memoryfor numbers also failedto predict reading comprehension.The Lesaux et al. (2006) study wouldseem to indicate that verbal workingmemory is a complexskill. This area of language researchneeds further study to determinein what ways and whydifferent measures play a role in readingcomprehension.Reading comprehension requiresthe higher levels skills of morphologicalawareness andvocabulary. Vocabulary is evenmore important when readingtext with cultural emphasis.Reading requires proper sampling andintegration of information(graphemic to decodeandmorphology to comprehend)and semantic (lexical) information.That is the interplayofmorphology and vocabulary intext processing. Morphologicalawareness and vocabularyknowledge do playan important role in second languagereading comprehensionand are part ofBernhardt’ s (2005) compensatorymodel ofsecond languagereading - second dimension -second language knowledge.When reading texts withcultural emphasis, French immersionGrade 3 students may beable to integrate information acrossthe text when they have well-developedcorrespondingsecond language cultural knowledgeas discussed in the next section.5.2.3 The Role of SecondLanguage Cultural Knowledgein ReadingComprehensionThe study also addressedthe relative role of second languagecultural knowledge asapredictor of reading comprehensionin a more or less culturallyfamiliar narrative text,ascompared to phonological awareness,verbal working memory,spelling, vocabularyandmorphological awareness inGrade 3 French immersion students.Reading comprehensionofnarrative texts with culturalemphasis was measuredusing comprehension questions(literal and196inferential) and recall of ideas andconnections of both a culturallyless familiar narrative passage(taking place in France) and a more familiarnarrative passage (taking placein Canada).The quantitative results from therecall protocols and comprehensionquestions as well asthe findings of the exploratory qualitativeinterview data showed clearlythat second languagecultural knowledge affects the processingand comprehension of textof Grade 3 Frenchimmersion students. In the presentstudy, second language culturalknowledge was importanttoreading comprehensionof narrative text with cultural emphasis.The correct answersto thecomprehension questions and amountof information recalled differedaccording to whetherparticipants were readingthe culturally more familiar orless familiar passage.Results from regressionanalyses showed that cultural receptivevocabulary’5was themost important predictor for theculturally less familiar text.It predicted comprehensionquestions accounting for27% of the variance. Cultural oralproductive vocabulary predictedrecall of ideas and connections accountingfor 59% of the variance. Culturaloral productivevocabulary was also an important predictorof the more familiar passagewhen readingcomprehension was measured usingoral recall protocol of ideasand connections accountingfor59% of the variance. However, culturalreceptive vocabulary accountedonly for 7% of thevariance in the comprehension questionsof the more familiar passage.Being able to recognize and producecultural terms, such as targetand story-theme words,probably helped readers activateappropriate second language culturalknowledge moreefficiently. When counting thetarget words in the participants’responses when they recalledeach passage, the participants significantlysaid more target and story-themewords in theculturally more familiartext. Participants also recognizedmore story-theme words inthe moreAs explained also in Chapter 3, second languagecultural knowledge was measured usingcultural oral receptivevocabulary (Cultural Words Sheet) ofnarrative texts with cultural emphasis.197familiar passage on the Cultural WordSheet than the culturally lessfamiliar text. Thisrecognition factor was significant inthe texts examined.A striking example concernedthe concept of the bell ringing.In the more familiar text, thesentence was ‘the bell rings’ and inthe less familiar text ‘we hearthe bell’. The word ‘sonnerie’was used for the word ‘bell’ in theless familiar text. Theword ‘cloche’ was used for theword‘bell’ in the more familiar text. Onlynine participants recalled thatthe bell rang in the lessfamiliar text as opposedto thirty-three participants in themore familiar text. This maybeexplained by the use ofthe targetword ‘la sonnerie’ usedin France as opposed to the word‘lacloche’ in their Canadian context.The study also addressed whether studentsperceived a difference of culturalelements inthe less and more familiar text thataffected their reading comprehension.The interview dataabout this question indicatedthat readers perceived those samewords from the culturallymorefamiliar passage as easier. Theinterview data suggestthat the understanding of thesekey termscontributed to the participantsmore successful overall performance.By contrast, participantstended not to recall cultural unfamiliarterms in the less familiarpassage. They did notunderstand their meaningperceiving them as ‘difficult andlong’ (e.g., ‘bifteck haché’ [groundbeef], ‘chou chantilly’ [creampuf/], ‘circulent’ [move aroundJ asexpressed in section 4.2.1.2Language of the Text). Thesewords affected the participants’comprehension of the less culturalfamiliar passage.These results are very interestingas the word frequencies weresimilar for the twomeasures. Participantsshould have been familiar withmany of the culture-specificwords in thestory about France. Participantsthemselves appeared to note thatthey were not familiar withmany of the words inthe story about France as discussedin section 5.2.2. The culturallylessfamiliar story should not havebeen linguistically less familiarfor the participants. It maybe the198case that participants lacked the relevant second languagecultural knowledge and vocabularyrequired for the less familiar text.The themes discerned from the qualitativeanalysis of the interviewdata providedevidence that participants were able to integratetheir local understandingsmore quickly whenreading the culturally more familiarpassage than the less familiar passage.These fmdingssuggest that having the relevant culturalschemata for a reading passage facilitatesthe readingprocess. The following excerpt from oneparticpant’s response illustrates thispoint exactly(Excerpt 21- 7B):“Le lunch parce que c’est dans la classeet je suis familière avec leschoses de la classependant le lunch. Je comprendsbon.”[The lunch because it is in the classroomand Jam morefamiliar withthe things in theclassroom during the lunch. I understandgood.]Consistent with schema theory arethe findings that participants mademore elaborations,or culturally appropriate extensionsof the text, when reading the culturallymore familiar text.For instance, the culturally more familiarpassage stated that “... vers noscasiers au fond de laclasse pour aller chercher notre boItea lunch”- [...to the coatroom at the back ofthe classroomto get our lunch box]. Participants made inferencesabout the graphic descriptionsof the lunchbox and about getting their coats from thecoatroom. Both are important factorsin the morefamiliar school culture. The culturallymore familiar passage also stated “Letéléphone de laclasse sonne ...“ - [The classroom phonerings .. .1.Although this was the only timethe phonewas mentioned, some responses made referenceto the number of times the phone rang.One possible explanation for thisfmding lies in the different culturalroles andresponsibilities children might havein the classroom. Answering a telephonecall being anexample. Whatever the specifictasks, characters in the culturally more familiarpassage appearto be more ‘active’ (answering the phone, gettingtheir lunch box, getting their lunchout of their199lunch box, perceiving to eatfaster so they can go and play, etc.).Characters in the less familiarpassage on the other hand maybe perceived more as ‘passive’.Passivity may be perceivedbecause the characters inthe more familiar story were ledby the teacher to go to the ‘cantine’,were given the food, were perceivedas taking more time to eatand were supervisedby theteacher while eating.By way of contrast, when readingculturally less familiar materialparticipants relied moreheavily on accepting ambiguity(cantine vs. cafeteria). Theyconcentrated on getting themainideas of the passage rather thanthe details. This does not necessarilyimply superficial reading.Participants may haveleft aside supporting ideasand details because theyencountered difficultyin relating stimulus sentencesto other portions of the textor to their second languageculturalknowledge. The recall resultsalso suggest that these differencesin understanding whatparticipants read may havebeen related to differencesin the comprehension oftext. As predictedby schema theory, readerswho possessed accurate culturalcontent knowledge directlyrelating tothe material they were reading comprehendedthat material more effectivelythan readers wholacked such schemata. Significantlymore supporting and detailedideas were recalled fromtheculturally more familiarthan from the culturally less familiarpassage.The number of cultural omissionsthat surfaced in the participants’retellings of theculturally less familiartext also supports the importanceof schemata in text comprehension.Itinvolved “outright omissionsfrom one’s own culture”(Steffensen et al.,1979,p.15). Forexample, the retellingsof the culturally less familiarpassage contained veryfew references tothe following supporting ideasthat are different thanin the Canadian culture:‘on sort de la classe’ [wego out ofthe classroom (to thecantine)], ‘les maltressescirculent entre les tables’[the teachers move around the tables],‘après le déjeuner,on seremet en rang’ [after lunchwe go back in afile/line].and the following detailed ideas:200‘tout le monde se lève’ [everyone stands up], ‘sans faire de bruit’[without making noise],‘en entrant, nous prenons un plateau, une assiette ...‘ [going in, we takea tray, a plate],‘... des carottes râpées, de la purée, un bifteck haché sur mon assiette... etje prends unchou chantilly’[...grated carrots, purée, a ground beefsteakon my plate... and I take acream puff].The participants’ familiarity with the more familiar story seemedto provide ‘ideationalscaffolding’ (Anderson et al., 1977) for selected categoriesof ideas in the stories while reading.Presumably, there is a slot established in the schemafor which supporting and detailed ideasin‘Le lunch’ are leading candidate ideas by the time thespecific phrases are encountered. Evidencefor encoding or retrieving information lies inthe fact that a schema operative when a passage isread affects encoding, possibly by directing attentionto text elements that are significant in thelight of the schema (Anderson & Pearson, 1984). Theschema affects remembering, in partproviding the plan for searching the memory.The schema also provides a basis for inferentialelaboration when a passage is read and for inferentialreconstruction when there aregaps andinconsistencies. Lack of second language culturallydetermined knowledge seemed to affectrecall of propositions from the culturally less familiarstory.The schema for ‘Le déjeuner’ was either nonexistentor culturally biased. Passages in thisstory were ambiguous to the participants because ofthe lack of knowledge of the language andthe lack of schema for the cultural situation inthe story. The qualitative analysis of theinterviews also highlights the influence of theparticipants’ native school culture. This influencewas clearly evident in the participants’ perception of easinessassociated with being able to recallsignificantly more elaborations and details of the culturallymore familiar passage. Thesefindings suggest that differences in cultural schemataare a significant source of differences incomprehension processing of a culturally more and lessfamiliar narrative text.In her compensatory model ofsecond language reading,Bemhardt (2005) identified adimension not yet explained in readingcomprehension, of which ‘engagement’. Additional201insights from the exploratory qualitativefindings suggest that engaged readingis strategic.“Engaged reading is strategic and conceptualas well as motivated and intentional”(Guthrie,Wigfield, Barbosa, Perencevich, Taboada,Davis, Scafiddi, & Tonks,2004,P.404). Whenreaders are intrinsically motivated,they are reading for somethingthey really want to knowabout. Readers would like to recognizewords as they relate to the comprehensionof the text.The data collected in the presentstudy suggest participants perceivedto be more engagedwith the less familiar passage. Themore participants would recognizewords, the more theywould comprehend the text andthe more they would be involved inthe story and intrinsicallymotivated to read it. It would followthat readers would recall moreinformation and achieveagreater integration of text informationwith their knowledge (Kintsch,Kozminsky, Streby,McKoon, & Keenan, 1975; Kintsch& van Dijk, 1978). The quantitativeresults and qualitativeinterview fmdings further suggestthat the less readers are familiarwith a cultural passage, theless they understand because of alack of second language cultural knowledge.Overallcomprehension is also relating andintegrating new informationwith the second languagecultural knowledge and effectivelyutilizing, confirming and integratingstrategies to constructmeaning and text.Participants also used their culturalknowledge and the situationalcontext as well aslinguistic strategies such asvocabulary and morphology to constructan interpretation of themeaning of a text. When readingthe culturally more familiar passage,vocabulary and secondlanguage cultural knowledgeprovided the basis for a better understandingcompared to theculturally less familiar passage. Morphologicalawareness was alsorelated to the readingcomprehension of the culturallyless familiar passage. Forthe less familiar passage, participantsused morphological knowledge to comprehendthe text.202It would appear that when a narrative textis culturally more familiar, the participantsused the general vocabulary (EVIP) to understandwhat they were readingand did not need tocompensate with morphological awareness.When reading a less culturally familiarnarrativetext, the participants compensatedthe unknown vocabulary and partof the missing culturalschemata with morphological awarenessto understand what theywere reading. The role ofcultural knowledge was also crucial forcomprehending written discourse.Knowing the secondlanguage cultural content enableda reader to differentiate informationin a text. Whenappropriate schemata are available,readers may differently allocatecognitive resources to whatthey perceive as important. The schemarepresenting a reader’s cultural knowledgeabout thecontent of culturally more familiarmaterials appeared to facilitateand to enable him/her todevelop a unified meaning of thetext. The unified meaning impliedconnecting ideas togetherfrom the main ideas to the details.When reading culturally less familiarmaterials, participantslacked the relevant cultural knowledge,resulting in fewer connectionsand greater ambiguity. Inthe present study, participants appearedto abandon the search fora detailed understanding andcompensated with morphologyto understand the text at hand. Participantsalso tended to be lesssuccessful in their comprehensionofthe text.The research reported hereadds to the current second languageknowledge andcorresponds to existing theoreticalframework of second language reading.It shows that readingis an interactive process. Thenature of this process and itsultimate success dependson a varietyof factors. The underlying skills,phonological awareness and spellingprocessing are stronglyrelated to word reading in French.The quantitative results andqualitative interview findingsofthis study indicate that three of themost important factors in readingcomprehension aremorphology, vocabulary and thesecond language cultural knowledgeof the reader.203It seems that French immersionGrade 3 studentsin the present studydrew on skillsthathad been thoughtof being “higher level”(Ehri, 1999). The fmdingsof the present studysuggestthat French immersionGrade 3 students usedFrench morphologicalinformation forunderstandinga French text more effectively.Morphology andvocabulary knowledgewhich arepart of Bernhardt’s (2005) second dimension- second languageknowledge - playedan importantrole. Morphologicalawareness covereddifferent partsof the speech suchas nouns, verbs,adjectives, prepositions,conjunctions andpunctuation. Morphologicalawareness at leastmeasuredby doze sentences appearedto be important. Readersalso used semanticinformationto comprehendtexts with culturalemphasis.Elements suchas content and domainknowledge (whichincludes secondlanguage culturalknowledge) andto a lesser extent engagementcorrespondto Bemhardt’ s(2005) third dimension— hypothetical variables.The findings of thepresent study furthersuggest that whenreadingtexts with culturalemphasis secondlanguage culturalknowledge was alsocrucial forcomprehendingwritten discourse.Participants recalledmore informationand achieveda greaterintegration oftext information whengiven culturally familiartext material.The contributionofthe present study inFrench supportsa compensatory readingmodel of Frenchimmersion Grade3 students. This modelis presented next.5.3 CompensatoryModel of Predictorsof Second LanguageReadingFigure 5 belowshows the compensatorymodel of secondlanguage readingresultingfrom this study.204Word Identification (FIAT)1. Cultural receptiveReading Comprehensionofvocabularyeralreceptiveness Narrative Texts with LessFamiliar2. Morphological awareCultural Emphasisvocabulary (EVIP)1. General receptivevocabulary (EVIP)2. Cultural recevocabularyptiveMorphological awareneFigure 5. Compensatorymodel of predictors ofsecond language reading.Note. The number in frontofthe predictors indicates theirrole in order of importanceas predictors of the dependentvariables.Reading ComprehensionofNarrative Texts with MoreFamiliar CulturalEmphasisThe main contributionis that this research demonstrateda compensatory effectbetweenthe variables usedto predict reading comprehensionin French as a secondlanguage in theFrench immersion contextAs shown in Figure 5, forthe three reading comprehensiontasks,three predictors appearedin one or several of them.These were morphologicalawareness,receptive vocabularyand second language culturalknowledge.Second language literacy knowledge1. PhonologiSecond language knowledgedimensionReading Comprehensionof IsolatedSentences with PictorialSupport(Khomsi)205From the abovemodel, it isinteresting tonote that therole of predictorsis different indifferent readingcomprehensiontasks. Whenreading comprehensionwith more familiarculturalemphasis wastested witha narrative text,general receptivevocabulary(EVIP) wasthe mainpredictor of readingcomprehension.When readingcomprehensionwith less familiarculturalemphasis wastested witha narrative text,second languagecultural knowledge(measured bycultural receptivevocabulary),general receptivevocabulary (EVIP)and morphologicalawarenesspredicted readingcomprehension.When reading comprehensionwas tested withisolated sentenceswith pictorialsupport, morphologicalawareness emergedas the singlepredictorof reading comprehension.It seems thatdepending onthe readingcomprehensiontaskat hand andthe readers’ backgroundknowledge (linguisticor content),readers usedifferent toolsat their dispositionto understandwhat they read.In that way,the modeldescribed aboveiscompensatory.For example,when a narrativetext was culturallymore familiar,the participantsused thegeneral vocabulary(EVIP) to understandwhat they werereading anddid not needto compensatewith morphologicalawareness.But, when readinga less culturallyfamiliar narrativetext, theparticipantsmay have compensatedthe unknownvocabularyand part ofthe missingculturalschemata withmorphologicalawarenessto understandwhat theywere reading.Whenparticipantsread isolatedsentences with pictorialsupport, theydid not needto know asmuchvocabulary dueto the supportgiven to themby the picture.Schemata werealso not crucialtounderstandisolated sentenceson very generaltopics. Therefore,participantsrelied moreonmorphologicalawareness to understandwhat they readwith accuracyto choose amongthe fourpictures relatedto the sametheme. Indeed,the test wasmore aboutaccuracy sinceeach pictureand sentence wereabout the sametopic withsome subtle differencesthat could onlybeunderstoodwith the supportof morphologicalawareness.206It seems that depending on the reading comprehension taskat hand and the readers’knowledge (linguistic or content), readers use differenttools at their disposition to understandwhat they read. As found in first and second language,vocabulary is very important. However,this research shows that morphological awarenessand second language cultural knowledgearealso very important. Indeed, morphologicalawareness takes more importancewhen context ismissing or limited. These three variablescompensate with each other. In thatway, the modeldescribed above is compensatory and interactive.In view of the discussions andmodel above,implications for French immersionpolicy and practice are suggested from the resultsof thisstudy in the following section.5.4 Implications: Turning theTideSeveral theoretical, pedagogical and programmedevelopment implications canbe drawnfrom the present research. Developingreading skills in French immersionshould help Grade 3students notice phonemes and spelling whendecoding words. The developmentof readingcomprehension through morphological awarenessand vocabulary including lexicalchoices andthe selection of reading materials,which enhance and broaden francophonecultural backgroundknowledge must be addressed.5.4.1 Theoretical ImplicationsThe present study provides empirical supportfor the compensatory model ofsecondlanguage reading in French immersionas described before. The pattern ofresults from this studyalso contributes to currenttheoretical discussions.During the initial stages ofliteracy acquisition, word reading seems tobe the product ofphonological awareness and spelling.In Gough, Juel and Griffith (1992), to breakthe ‘cipher’,children have to understand the rule-governedrelationships between letters inwords’ spellingpatterns and the phonemes for which theystand. As reading skill develops,the child can be207thought of as abstracting more and more sophisticated, but implicit,rules about the relationshipsbetween print and sound. To support effective generalizationto new words, the mappings need tooperate at the level of graphemes and phonemes. Theprocess of learning to read an alphabeticscript (as French in the present study) involves the creationof mappings between graphemic andphonological representations. Viewed in this way it seemsnatural to expect phonologicalawareness to be an important predictor or early readingskills.The present research identified which variables arereliable precursors of readingcomprehension skills including morphological skills.Although a significant body of data isavailable on letter knowledge and word decoding skills,less is known on the role ofmorphological skills. The present research has determinedthat morphological awareness is also apredictor of reading comprehension skills. The inclusionof morphological awareness is useful,particularly given the potential overlapbetween knowledge of patterns and of morphology.Itmay be the case that higher order processes,such as morphology, are more importantin Frenchbecause the French language is highly inflected.Comprehension can be said to be a product ofa higher-level skill set when readingasecond language cultural text. These skills includesemantics, second language culturalknowledge and to a lesser extent morphological processing.The combined influenceof thesefactors appears to be strong. These skill indicatorswill require further investigation to identifyifthe importance of each varies according to thelevel of literacy development in French immersionstudents and the types of texts they read.The results and fmdings of the present study are furthercause to consider the effects ofinstructional context. Pedagogical implications emanatingfrom the results and fmdings of thisresearch will be explored in the next section.2085.4.2 Pedagogical ImplicationsIf French is not spoken in the home, reading acquisition and language developmentreliesvery heavily on classroom instruction. In some cases parents teach readingin English to theirchildren before they come to school. The skills acquired by those childrenin one language aretransferred to the second language. Cases such as these are not common.The results of this study have a number of practical implications. Theysuggest thatteachers could help their students’ reading development by helpingthem notice phonemes whendecoding, by making them aware of grammar in particular morphologythrough acounterbalanced approach (Lyster, 2007) and by expandingtheir vocabulary. The present studyalso indicates that instructional practices bridging thecultural knowledge gap between the nativeculture of the readers and the culture of the second languagecould improve the readingcomprehension of texts taken with a francophone cultural emphasis. Thiscould be done byexpanding lexical knowledge and second language cultural knowledgein French immersionstudents. Readers could make relations between the francophone schematicknowledge and textinformation. The pedagogical implications in regardsto phonological awareness, morphologicalawareness, vocabulary and second language cultural knowledge developmentwill be discussednext.5.4.2.1 Development of French Phonological SkillsThe present study indicates that a strong emphasis ona balanced approach to earlyliteracy development, which includes teaching of Frenchphonemes and spelling in the primarygrades seems important to success in any French immersion programme.Findings fromintervention studies in English first language(Castiglioni-Spalten & Ehri, 2003; Ebri et al., 2001;Elbro & Petersen, 2004; Lundberg et al., 1988) and French immersion(Boumot-Trites, 2005)suggest that second language reading skills can be significantly improvedwith targeted phonics209instruction in the primary grades. Intervention studies at the Kindergartenand Grade 1 level forstudents identified as ‘at-risk”6of word reading have demonstrated the efficacyof instruction inphonological skills on reading acquisition (Bradley & Bryant, 1983b;Lundberg et al., 1988).These ‘at-risk’ students improved their performance with phonologicalawareness and phonicsinstruction. Teachers could formulate more suitable techniquesto read for decoding such asusing La methodephonique (Moizan & Lloyd, 2001). La methodephoniqueputs the emphasis onphonics, graphemes, spelling or games (Sones, Goulet, & Christen, 2007;Webster, Deuling, &Frizzell, 2000). The training of phonological awareness skills in Frenchshould therefore beencouraged for French immersion students as soonas Kindergarten. The results also showed theimportant role of morphological awareness skills in literacy.Another pedagogical implication isthe development of morphological ability.5.4.2.2 Development of Morphological AbffityThe present study points to the need to have a strong emphasison a counterbalancedapproach (Lyster, 2007). A counterbalanced approachimplies using corrective feedback to helpstudents become aware of French morphological andsyntactic rules. Such an approach also helpsFrench immersion students to better comprehend the texts theyare reading. Lyster’s approachhelps in the processing of language through noticing,awareness and production activities.Formal oral language games might be considered in drawingstudents’ attention to thelanguage structure before the onset of learning to read and beyond.Combining phonological andmorphological training on reading acquisition would facilitatelater reading achievement andproduce a better reading achievement such as comprehension aspects(Demont & Gombert,1996). Students could benefit from a counterbalancedapproach of grammatical skills and more16The term ‘at risk’ means “at risk of reading difficulties” and was defmedas follows: ‘low risk’ when only onevariable other than word reading is below average significantly (i.e.,misses the average cut off by only one point);‘high risk’ when word reading is below average or when any combinationsof variables is below averagesignificantly (i.e., by more than just one point).210particularly morphological skills required for second language reading. This approachwouldimply the negotiation of language through content by means of interactional strategiesthatinvolve teacher scaffolding and corrective feedback.The findings of this study also showed that vocabulary helps reading comprehension.Educators should be encouraged to work on the improvement of general vocabulary,secondlanguage culture-specific lexical choices and overall proficiency in the Frenchlanguage to lessenany difficulties in reading comprehension.5.4.2.3 Development of VocabularyVocabulary knowledge exerts a strong and direct influence on readingcomprehension.Vocabulary knowledge and culture-specific lexical choicesappear to be an extremely importantfactor in French immersion. A strong focus should be placed on vocabulary at multiplelevelswithin the elementary school immersion programme. Instructionshould be focused on two mainobjectives: (a) exposing French immersion students to many wordsof varying difficulty innumerous contexts, and (b) providing French immersionstudents with a deep understanding ofwords important to the texts they are listening to or reading. Thesewords should berepresentative of academic or literary language used in texts throughouttheir school years.French immersion students should also build a large sightvocabulary in order to access wordmeanings automatically. Low-frequency words are of particularconcern. In order that studentsbetter grasp the meaning of these difficult words, lessons shouldbe designed to illustrate howboth high and low frequency words are coreto the material being studied (Sökmen, 1997).Research by Coyne et al. (2004) indicates that the use of sophisticatedwords and relatedactivities that structure students’ opportunities to analyzeand use words in many contexts isimportant to comprehension success. Instruction shouldbe aimed at a deeper level of processing.Numerous encounters with a word in many different contextsshould be provided as well as211lexical choices across francophone culture. French immersion students who encountera word ina variety of activities and different contexts develop a more accurate understandingof itsmeaning and use. Better learning can also be fostered when a deeper level of semanticprocessingis required and the encoding of a word is more detailed. Students shouldpractice words theyhave learned in multiple subject areas or contexts to promote the buildingof vocabularyknowledge (Goldman & Rakestraw, 2000; Kame’enui, Dixon, & Camine,1987).As French immersion students are confronted with texts containing morecomplex andabstract language, reading comprehension will naturally become morechallenging. This willoccur as students move on to higher grades where education gets moredecontextualized incontent areas in French immersion such as Science or Social Studies.The difficulties in readingmay appear to be considerable for second-language learners due to theirmore limited French oralproficiency. Students should be encouraged to read, play games(flash cards, riddles), do wordassociations (words, antonyms, sentences including the definition,visual representations) anduse a dictionary. Extensive vocabulary training is crucial for efficientsecond language readingcomprehension. Carver (1994) reported for examplethat 90% of the words in a text should befamiliar for global reading comprehension.In French immersion classes students have to read texts fromfrancophone cultures withspecific content. Students should be taught different words which havethe same meaning indifferent francophone cultures as soon as is possible. Another pedagogicalimplication is theinstruction of culture.5.4.2.4 Development of Second Language CulturalKnowledgeSince second language cultural knowledge has beenshown to be an important predictorof reading comprehension, teachers should read books from different francophonecultures. Itwould help build second language cultural knowledge in French immersionstudents, which212would in turn help them understand what they read. Teachers shouldalso monitor students’problems in reading less familiar texts. Helping studentscope with less familiar texts and/orspecific lexical terminology would involve training them in suchskills as inferring unknownmeaning from the context. If students are not exposedto texts from francophone cultures that areprogressively more diverse, those texts may still remain unfamiliarto them. Readers may then beunable to make hypotheses about the meaning ofthe text. Students may therefore fail to developstrategies necessary to read the text. Teachers needto implement instructional practices thatenable students to make the connection betweentheir semantic knowledge and text informationthey are reading. Reading then could become a morevaluable source of exposure to thelanguage, especially in written form.Scaffolding would help French immersion students understandwhat they read and learnabout specific cultural aspects included or alludedto in the text. Scaffolding instruction as ateaching strategy originates from Vygotsky’ s (1978) socioculturaltheory and his concept of thezone of proximal development (ZPD).In scaffolding instruction, a more ‘knowledgeable other’ providessupports to facilitatelearner’s development. The scaffolds facilitatea student’s ability to build on prior knowledgeand internalize new information. The ‘more capable other’ providesthe scaffolds so that thelearner can accomplish, with assistance, the task heor she could otherwise not complete. The‘more capable other’ helps the learner throughthe ZPD (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000).In the second language educational setting, the scaffoldsare activities and tasks that may includemodels, hints, cues, cue-cards, prompts, partially completedexamples, questions, think-aloudmodeling and direct instruction of scenarios (Hartman, 2002)in the second language culture.These activities would help bridge the cultural knowledgegap between the more familiar culture213of the reader and the less familiar cultural information in the text(Andersson & Bamitz, 1984;Barnitz, 1985; Carrell, Carson, & Zhe, 1993; Carrell& Eisterhold, 1988).The results and findings of the present research have also implicationsfor the programmedevelopment of French immersion in British Columbia. These willbe explored next.5.4.3 Programme Development ImplicationsThe results and findings of the present research have also implicationsfor the programmedevelopment of French immersion in British Columbia.Research that examines readingcomprehension in the context of French immersion is particularlyrelevant in view of theincreasingly multilingual nature of student populationsin French immersion. The insightsobtained through this research could be used toguide teachers in providing French immersionstudents the support required for academic success. This successcould act to encourage morestudents to remain in the French immersion programmeto secondary school graduation level.The present research can contribute to the importanttask of making sure that all Frenchimmersion students are provided with equal opportunitiesto master the two official languages ofCanada. The insights obtained through this researchcould add to the body of knowledge in thepresent bilingual Canadian context and should be of great interestto second language students,educators, scholars, and policy makers seeking to improve levelsof bilingual literacy obtainedby all members of Canadian society.214CHAPTER 6: LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCHAlthough the present study provides new fmdings and insights, ithas some limitations. Inview of these limitations, suggestions for future research are alsoaddressed in the followingsections.6.1 LimitationsThe findings of this research provide further evidence that phonologicalawareness andspelling are important for word reading. Language developmenttasks, such as morphologicaland vocabulary knowledge, are important for reading comprehension.Emphasizing secondlanguage cultural knowledge in all areas of language developmentis also important.The study was restricted to a set of variables considered importantfor the explanation ofword reading and reading comprehension development:phonological awareness, spelling,morphological awareness, verbal working memory,vocabulary and second language culturalknowledge. While these components have been foundto be extremely relevant for secondlanguage reading comprehension (Bernhardt,2005), more in-depth study of actual second-language reading behavior, attitudes, and second-languagecontact could provide a morecomplex picture of French immersion reading comprehension process.The tasks undertaken inthis research were not content specific in reducing thepossible effect of confounding variablesregarding culture specific reading comprehension measurement.There is a limitation in the typeof text used. The results of the present research are applicable tonarrative texts only. The use ofdifferent types of text or genres would possiblyshow different results about the best predictorsinsecond language comprehension.With respect to the measurement instruments, the morphologicalawareness task requiredthe participant to read a sentence in French and fill inthe missing word to make the sentence215complete. The missing word covered different parts of the speech,such as nouns, verbs,adjectives, prepositions, conjunctions and punctuation. The reading comprehensionof isolatedsentences task also required readers to be aware ofthe internalmorphology of sentences. Themorphology of sentences allowed them to understand the meaningof the sentences being read inorder to point to the right picture. The similarity inmethodology might be an alternativeexplanation for the high correlation and independent contributionof morphological awarenesstothe reading comprehension of isolated sentences measure.All the tasks were in the French language. Although,participants had the choice ofrecalling in English, all recalled the narrativetexts in French. Lee (1986b) showed that secondlanguage students recall second language text betterin the first language than in the secondlanguage. Nevertheless, French is the onlylanguage of instruction of the participants until Grade3. They receive noformal reading instruction in their first language,which is often, but notexclusively English. They are exposed to informal literacyin first language at home or in theircommunities. Providing French immersion Grade 3students with questions in English couldhave put some in an even more disadvantaged position.There is also a limitation in themeasurement properties of the experimental dependentvariable of reading comprehension ofnarrative texts with cultural emphasis and the experimentalindependent variable of secondlanguage cultural knowledge. Depending on the levelof the reliability, the power of these tasksto reflect group differences and relationships among variablesmay be reduced due tomeasurement error.With respect to the methods of analysis, the researcherused quantitative methods as themain approach with exploratory qualitative measures.The exploratory qualitative measures werecomplementary and helped answer some questions(for example difficulty encountered inreading comprehension of narrative texts with culturalemphasis and engagement towards a216cultural text) that the quantitative approach could not answer. A morein-depth study with a moredeveloped qualitative approach would bring much more insight into the perceptionsand thestrategies that students use when reading in a second language. However, thiswas not the maingoal of this research.Replicating this study with a larger number of participants wouldresult in a more defmiteanswer to the research questions. The number of participantsin the present study limits theextent to which these findings might be generalizedto other French immersion groups. Thislimitation extends to the generalization of the researchfindings to other French immersioncontexts. The present study involved participantsat a particular age, living in a particularsociopolitical and sociocultural context. Caution shouldbe taken if these research results aregeneralized to another city or province. French immersioncurricular programmes in BritishColumbia are the source of linguistic experience. Theattrition rate in any sample of developingbilingual children is important. In this research,the attrition rate was extremely low, 2.7%. Theanalyses reported in this study can only be generalizedto individuals who remain in the Frenchimmersion programme. It has been noted that only50 % to 60% of the students starting inKindergarten continue until Grade 6 (Stem, 1991).Of this 50% to 60%, some may not havecontinued due to geographic relocation. Others becauseparents decided to transfer their childfrom the French immersion to the English programme.Another portion may not have continuedbecause their ability to read French content forcomprehension may have been less advancedthan those who remained. Immersion studentsmay have had difficulties in achieving satisfactorygrowth within the French language programme.The ratio of first language English to second language Englishparticipants in this studywas 2 to 1. Some participants had first languages withdifferent orthography (14 Asian, 3 Arabic,6 Slavic) which might have acted as an influence andlor impedimentof the first language to the217third language ‘French’ (Geva & Siegel, 2000). Readers of the present research should approachand engage with their own French immersion realities which will vary from provinceto provinceor country to country (Cummins, 2000; Genesee, 2006).6.2 Suggestions for Future ResearchThis study is intended to serve as a first study in order that similar researchcan beconducted in other French immersion contexts. Because of the limitednumber of participantsand the number of analyses on the data, this study should also be replicatedin other immersionsettings across British Columbia and Canada to see if similar resultsare obtained. It may be thatthe heterogeneity of immersion programs, such as early vs. late, ruralvs. urban, or someprovinces being more bilingual (e.g., New Brunswick)than others may provide different results.An obvious next step requires the investigationof comprehension in French immersionstudents’ reading development through middle and high school. At theselevels the demands onreading comprehension abilities continue to increaseand reading comprehension becomescentral to academic success. Beyond Grade 3, heavier demands areplaced on the readers, not justfor obtaining a deeper understanding of text material,but also for working with more challengingaspects of foundational reading processes. Words to be read and spelledbecome morephonologically and morphologically complexas course material becomes more difficult (Leach,Scarborough, & Rescorla, 2003). Furthermore, a true longitudinaldesign could also be useful.Such a design is necessary to identify valid longitudinal predictors ofstudents ‘at risk’ of readingdifficulties.French immersion students also need to learn to reada different genre of informativetexts in Science or Social Studies courses. Students generally only readnarrative texts up toGrade 3. For second language speakers, progress in reading can falter whenthey are faced with amore difficult reading text material as they reach higher grades.Conducting longitudinal218research through the middle and high school years in French immersionwould shed light onwhether gains made in previous grades are retained and progress maintained.Reading comprehension is crucial for second language acquisitionto occur whenfactors known to affect text processing, such as morphologicalawareness, vocabulary andsecond language cultural knowledge, are accounted for. A future studycould be to test thecompensato?y model ofreading comprehension dependingon the tasks at hand. This wouldinvolve testing the compensation between morphologicalawareness, vocabulary and secondlanguage cultural knowledge in reading comprehensiondepending on the type of text read.Inpractical terms, to test the compensatory model, a futurestudy could involve readingcomprehension of different types of texts to see if thesame variables are the best predictors forthe different types of texts: narrative, informative, argumentative,etc.The present research offers clear evidence that wordreading and reading comprehensionare far from being influenced by a single process. Thepresent research outlined the dominantroles played by phonological awareness and spellingin word reading, morphological and lexicalknowledge in reading comprehension as well as secondlanguage cultural knowledge in thereading of texts with cultural emphasis. All theseskills play a role in the reading processofdeveloping French immersion students into bilingualstudents. 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