The Relationship Between Selective Aspects of Metalinguistic Awareness and Degree of Second Language Acquisition in Emergent Readers

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Clare, Lauren
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Mount Saint Vincent University
The purpose of this study was to determine whether knowing a second language would be related to having greater phonological and word awareness skills than their monolingual peers. Three groups of kindergarten children, of varying levels of second language experience participated in a variety of tasks examining their phonological and word awareness skills. One group was fluent in French and English (bilingual), one group was in a French immersion program (immersion), and the other group spoke English and had no exposure to a second language (monolingual). Results indicated similar abilities among the three groups of children in terms of their phonological awareness abilities, with the exception of segmenting syllables and phonemes. The bilingual group scored significantly higher than the immersion group when manipulating syllables and the immersion and monolingual group scored significantly higher than the bilingual group when manipulating phonemes. In the “moving word” word awareness task, both groups of children with a second language background performed significantly better than chance, whereas the monolingual group did not differ from chance. The findings suggest that by the end of the child’s first year of formal literacy instruction, second language advantage may only exist in the area of manipulating syllables and increased awareness of print. Therefore, children possessing a second language have some increased metalinguistic skills which may be beneficial in learning to read.
Second Language , Awareness Skills , Literacy Instruction