UBC Theses and Dissertations
Acquisition of English and French language proficiency and reading comprehension of multilingual students in French immersion programs : a 3-year longitudinal study Bérubé, Daniel
This dissertation consists of three articles that explore the oral language proficiency and reading skills in the second language (English) and third language (French) of multilingual students in Canadian French immersion programs. Oral language proficiency included measures of vocabulary knowledge and listening comprehension. In this dissertation, multilingual students are children who are exposed to a home language other than English or French. Chapter 2 shows that multilingual students developed oral language proficiency and reading skills differently from bilingual English-French students in Grades 4 and 6. This emphasizes the importance of studying multilingual learners in greater detail, and several factors such as first language and the interdependence between the L2 and L3 are identified as contributors of English and French proficiency. Chapter 3 examines the relationship between first language typology—defined as the classification of languages according to their structural characteristics (e.g. phonological and writing systems)—and the development of English and French language proficiency and literacy skills in groups of students who are either literate in an alphabetic first language (e.g. Spanish) or literate in a logographic/syllabary first language (e.g. Chinese). Results indicated that students with an alphabetic first language showed advantages in reading comprehension. However, there was no difference in word reading and pseudoword reading. A more accurate picture of what facilitates reading in English and French is enhanced when differences in oral language proficiency are also considered. It was found that vocabulary knowledge had a greater influence on reading comprehension in both English and French in students who were literate in an alphabetic first language rather than a logographic first language. The fourth chapter further explores other factors associated with multilingual students’ oral language proficiency and reading skills in French: socio-linguistic factors (e.g. motivation, socio-economic status, amount of reading in French), metalinguistic awareness factors (e.g. morphological awareness), and language proficiency factors (e.g. vocabulary knowledge and listening comprehension). Controlling for amount of reading in French and morphological awareness in English, regression analyses showed that oral language proficiency and reading comprehension skills in English were the best predictors of oral language proficiency and reading comprehension skills in French.
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