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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cognitive assessment of Chinese immigrant students in Cantonese and English Tam, Susanne


Assessing English-as-a-second-language (ESL) children in their native and second languages (L1 & L2) is likely to result in a better estimate of their academic potential than in the L2 alone. In the present study, the Hong Kong-Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (HK-WISC), the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale: Fourth Edition (SB: FE), and the Woodcock Language Proficiency Battery (WLPB) were administered to 32 Cantonese-speaking children from Hong Kong. The mean age of these children was 11.01 years. Their mean age on arrival (A0A) was 9.27 years, while their mean length of residence (L0R) was 1.74 years. Results of the multiple regression analyses and analysis of variance indicated that AOA and LOR are significant predictive variables for ESL immigrant's verbal performance. In addition, variables such as family socioeconomic status, frequency of speaking Cantonese at home, gender, and having studied English before are also useful to make predictions of these children's performance. The present sample had a high nonverbal and low verbal profile of performance on the English IQ measure. However, this profile of performance was not present on the Chinese IQ measure. These findings add to the cumulative data that Orientals have a characteristic intellectual profile. Finally, this study suggests that, if feasible, immigrant children should be assessed in both LI and L2. Standardized tests can be used to assess ESL immigrant children, even in their first few years of arrival to a new country. The results of the assessment should be kept as a record so that comparisons can be made with future assessment results. However, all these results need to be interpreted with extreme caution because inappropriate labelling and misplacement of these children are unacceptable.

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