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Relationships among metalinguistic awareness, cognitive development, verbal abilities and biliteracy in first grade early French immersion students Hoskyn, Maureen Janet


The purpose of the current study was to investigate the relation of language and cognitive factors to biliteracy development among EFI first grade children. Variables of interest included phonological awareness, print awareness, level of operativity, English/French verbal ability, and influences in the home environment (e.g. socioeconomic status, parent's level of education, time spent on reading activities). A battery of language, cognitive and reading tests was administered in Fall and again in Spring of the first grade to sixty-eight preliterate Anglophone children. A parent questionnaire yielded information pertaining to socioeconomic status, and reading related leizure activities in the home. A teacher questionnaire provided details which described the various classroom environments of the children in the study. Results of correlational analyses indicate that phonological and print awareness both form a significant, positive relationship with French and English reading. Level of operativity and level of English verbal ability did not correlate significant with any measure of reading. The pattern of correlations between French verbal ability tasks and French/English reading was inconsistent. Four of the six French verbal measures correlated significantly, but weakly with French reading and only one measure formed a significant positive correlation with English reading. Analyses of scatterplots which showed the relation of phonological abilities to reading suggest that phonological awareness is a necessary, but not sufficient skill for learning to read. Several children who had mastered a French phonological test could not decode French words; however, there were no children who were good readers who did not score above the sample mean on at least one measure of phonological awareness. Step-wise multiple regression analyses of sample performance on measures of reading and phonological awareness indicate print awareness is the best predictor of reading achievement in French and English. Scores on phonological measures were able to account for residual variance after print awareness had entered the equation. Limitations and implications of the study are discussed and recommendations for further research are presented.

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