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Phonological awareness in Chinese monolingual and Chinese-English bilingual children Zhao, Jing

Abstract

This thesis reports on two studies that examined the development of phonological awareness in Mandarin monolingual children and the bilingual advantages in phonological awareness in Mandarin-English bilingual children. The first study was conducted in Shanghai, China to examine the development of three levels of phonological awareness in Mandarin speaking children (i.e., syllable awareness, onset-rime awareness, and tone awareness) from the ages of 4 to 6. The results showed that like English-speaking children, the development of phonological awareness in Mandarin progressed from an awareness of relatively large segments (e.g. syllables) to smaller ones (e.g., onset-rime). Tone awareness, as a specific phonological awareness of Chinese, was developed earlier than other levels of phonological awareness in Mandarin-speaking children, whereas onset-rime awareness was last acquired. The second study compared Mandarin-English bilingual children's performance on phonological awareness with Mandarin monolingual children and English monolingual children. The results showed that Mandarin-English bilinguals performed better than English monolinguals on the Elision and Blending subtests of the CTOPP. Mandarin-English bilinguals also performed better than their Mandarin monolingual counterparts on all Mandarin phonological awareness tasks except for a syllable deletion task. The results from the two studies are discussed in terms of language-general vs. language-specific developmental profiles of phonological awareness as well as the effects of bilingualism on phonological awareness of both languages in bilingual children. Further clinical and educational implications of these results are also discussed.

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