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Predictors of grade 3 French immersion students' reading comprehension : the role of morphological awareness, vocabulary and second language cultural knowledge Denizot, Isabelle Arlette Genevieve

Abstract

Research findings point to reading comprehension as an important mediator of academic achievement for French immersion students (Hogan, Caffs, & Little, 2005). This research investigated the best predictors of word reading and reading comprehension in French as a second language in 72 Grade 3 students of an early French immersion programme. The present research is based on Bemhardt’s (2005) model of second language reading, which views reading comprehension as an interactive-compensatory process. Four main questions guided this program of study: (1) What is the best predictor of word reading among phonological awareness, spelling, verbal working memory, vocabulary and morphological awareness in Grade 3 French immersion students? (2) What is the best predictor of reading comprehension among phonological awareness, spelling, verbal working memory, vocabulary and morphological awareness in Grade 3 French immersion students? (3) What is the relative role of second language cultural knowledge compared to phonological awareness, spelling, verbal working memory, vocabulary and morphological awareness in Grade 3 French immersion students’ reading comprehension? and (4) What do French immersion Grade 3 students perceive as different in a culturally less and more familiar text that affected their reading comprehension and which cultural context do they prefer and why? Results from hierarchical regression analyses showed that phonological awareness and spelling predicted word reading, whereas morphological awareness predicted reading comprehension of isolated sentences. Reading comprehension of a narrative text with more familiar cultural emphasis was predicted by receptive vocabulary (EVIP). Reading comprehension of a narrative text with less familiar cultural emphasis was predicted by second language cultural knowledge, followed by morphological awareness. However, participants perceived the culturally more familiar passage easier and perceived the culturally less familiar passage as more engaging. Thus, results from the study appear to confirm that reading is an interactive compensatory process. Several theoretical, pedagogical and programme development implications are drawn from the present research.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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