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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A longitudinal study of the role of phonological awareness in early reading development in English speaking (L1) and English as a second-language speaking (ESL) students Hoption, Claire Audrey

Abstract

This study examined the role phonological processing (PP) skills play in identifying English as a Second language (ESL) students at risk of early reading failure compared to native English speaking (L1) students at risk of early reading failure. This study also examined whether early PP skills continue to be good predictors of reading ability for L1 and ESL learners over time. This 4 year longitudinal study began in 1996 with three grades of participants Junior Kindergarteners, Senior Kindergarteners, and Grade 1 students. There were 156 ESL students and 195 L1 students in 1996, and among the ESL participants, the two most predominant languages were Punjabi and Chinese. Students were further classified as either reading disabled (RD) or normal achieving readers (NA) based on their scores on a reading measure. All students were given tasks to assess their word reading, phonological awareness, syntactic awareness, spelling and working memory skills in English over the years, although in some years certain groups of participants were administered additional and different tasks depending on their grade level. For example, math tasks were administered only to grade 3 and 4 children in 1999. Although there were a few observable differences on some of the measures between the two language groups, this study found no significant differences in early reading development between L1 and ESL learners overall. In addition, this study found evidence of a positive and stable relationship between PP skills and reading ability in ESL and L1 students.

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