Convergent evidence suggests that, for bilingual learners, well-developed morphological awareness in the first or second language may facilitate second language reading comprehension. However, there may be important differences between types of morphological awareness which could affect the degree to which second language reading comprehension is facilitated. In this study, we investigated how different types of morphological awareness in Chinese and English contributed to English vocabulary and reading comprehension for English as Foreign Language (EFL) students. Eighth-grade Chinese EFL students (n = 49) completed researcher-designed assessments of derivational and compound awareness in both Chinese and English, as well as standardized tasks of vocabulary and reading comprehension in English. Measures were administered twice in a six-month interval. We used hierarchical linear regression to investigate contributions of Chinese and English morphological awareness to English vocabulary knowledge and English reading comprehension. As expected, we found moderate correlations across languages for both derivational and compounding morphology. However, contrary to our hypotheses of cross-linguistic transfer of morphological awareness, Chinese derivational awareness did not explain unique variance in either English vocabulary or reading comprehension. In fact, only English derivational awareness explained significant unique variance in English reading comprehension and only English compound awareness explained unique variance in English vocabulary knowledge. These findings may inform future intervention research to improve English reading-related skills.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Linguistics and Language
- Speech and Hearing