Skip to main content Accessibility help

Linguistic distance effect on cross-linguistic transfer of morphological awareness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 February 2012

Nanyang Technological University
E-mail address:


This study examined transfer facilitation effect of first language morphological awareness on second language lexical inference ability among Grade 6 Chinese-speaking English as a foreign language learners in China. A set of paper and pencil tests was administered to measure children's morphological awareness and lexical inference ability in both Chinese and English. Results showed that the contribution of Chinese morphological awareness to English morphological awareness was larger for compound words than for derived words. In addition, the indirect effect of Chinese compound awareness on English compound word meaning inference was significant, but that of Chinese derivational awareness on English derived word meaning inference did not achieve significance. These findings confirmed that cross-linguistic transfer of Chinese morphological awareness was responsive to the linguistic distance between Chinese and English.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


Anglin, J. M. (1993). Vocabulary development: A morphological analysis. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 58 (10, Serial No. 238).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baumann, J. F., Edwards, E. C., Boland, E. M., Olejnik, S., & Keme'enui, E. (2003). Vocabulary tricks: Effects of instruction in morphology and context on fifth-grade students’ ability to derive and infer word meaning. American Educational Research Journal, 40, 447494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bentler, P. M., & Wu, E. J. C. (2002). EQS 6 for Windows: User's manual. Encino, CA: Multivariate Software, Inc.Google Scholar
Bowers, P. N., & Kirby, J. R. (2010). Effects of morphological instruction on vocabulary acquisition. Reading and Writing, 23, 515537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carlisle, J. F. (2000). Awareness of the structure and meaning of morphologically complex words: Impact on reading. Reading and Writing, 12, 169190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chen, X., Hao, M., Geva, E., Zhu, J., & Shu, H. (2009). The role of compound awareness in Chinese children's vocabulary acquisition and character reading. Reading and Writing, 22, 615631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cheung, G. W., & Lau, R. S. (2008). Testing mediation and suppression effects of latent variables: Bootstrapping with Structural Equation Models. Organization Research Methods, 11, 296325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cheung, H., Chung, K. K. H., Wong, S. W. L., McBride-Chang, C., Penney, T. B., & Ho, C. S.-H. (2010). Speech perception, metalinguistic awareness, reading, and vocabulary in Chinese–English bilingual children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 367380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Deacon, S. H., & Kirby, J. B. (2004). Morphological awareness: Just “more phonological”? The roles of morphological and phonological awareness in reading development. Applied Psycholinguistics, 25, 223238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Deacon, S. H., Wade-Woolley, L., & Kirby, J. B. (2007). Crossover: The role of morphological awareness in French immersion children's reading. Developmental Psychology, 43, 732746.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Duke, N. K., & Carlisle, J. F. (2011). The development of comprehension. In Kamil, M. L., Pearson, P. D., Moje, E. B., & Afflerbach, P. (Eds.), Handbook of reading research (Vol. 4, pp. 199228). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Durgunoglu, A. Y. (1997). Bilingual reading: Its components, development, and other issues. In de Groot, A. M. B. & Kroll, J. F. (Eds.), Tutorials in bilingualism: Psycholinguistic perspectives (pp. 255276). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Durgunoglu, A. Y., Nagy, W. E., & Hancin, B. J. (1993). Cross-language transfer of phonemic awareness. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 453465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fabb, N. (1998). Compounding. In Spencer, A. & Zwicky, A. M. (Eds.), The handbook of morphology (pp. 6683). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kline, R. B. (2004). Principles and practices of structural equation modeling (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Koda, K. (2005). Learning to read across writing systems: Transfer, metalinguistic awareness, and second language reading development. In Cook, V. J. (2005). Second language writing systems (pp. 311334). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Koda, K. (2008). Impacts of prior literacy experience on learning to read in a second language. In Koda, K. & Zehler, A. M. (Eds.), Learning to read across languages: Cross-linguistic relationships in first- and second-language literacy development (pp. 6896). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Ku, Y.-M., & Anderson, R. C. (2003). Development of morphological awareness in Chinese and English. Reading and Writing, 16, 399422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kuo, L.-J., & Anderson, R. C. (2006). Morphological awareness and learning to read: A cross-language perspective. Educational Psychologist, 41, 161180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
, Li. C., & Thompson, S. (1981). Mandarin Chinese: A functional reference grammar. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
McBride-Chang, C., Tardif, T., Cho, J.-R., Shu, H., Fletcher, P., Stokers, S. F., et al. (2008). What's in a word? Morphological awareness and vocabulary knowledge in three languages. Applied Psycholinguistics, 29, 437462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McBride-Chang, C., Wagner, R. K., Muse, A., Chow, B. W.-Y., & Shu, H. (2005). The role of morphological awareness in children's vocabulary acquisition in English. Applied Psycholinguistics, 26, 415435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nagy, W. E. (2007). Metalinguistic awareness and the vocabulary–comprehension connection. In Wagner, R. K., Muse, A. E., & Tannenbaum, K. R. (Eds.), Vocabulary acquisition: Implications for reading comprehension (pp. 5277). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Nagy, W. E., & Anderson, R. C. (1984). How many words are there in printed school English? Reading Research Quarterly, 19, 304330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nagy, W. E., Berninger, V., & Abbott, R. (2006). Contributions of morphology beyond phonology to literacy outcomes of upper elementary and middle-school students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 134147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Packard, J. L. (2000). The morphology of Chinese: A linguistic and cognitive approach. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Paris, S. G. (2005). Reinterpreting the development of reading skills. Reading Research Quarterly, 40, 184202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pasquarella, A., Chen, C., Lam, K., & Luo, Y. C. (2011). Cross-language transfer of morphological awareness in Chinese–English bilinguals. Journal of Research in Reading, 34, 2342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Plag, I. (2003). Word-formation in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ramirez, G., Chen, X., Geva, E., & Kiefer, H. (2010). Morphological awareness in Spanish-speaking English language learners: Within and cross-language effects on word reading. Reading and Writing, 23, 337358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Saiegh-Haddad, E., & Geva, E. (2008). Morphological awareness, phonological awareness and reading in English–Arabic bilingual children. Reading and Writing, 21, 481504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Satorra, A., & Bentler, P. M. (1988). Scaling corrections for chi-square statistics in covariance structure analysis. Proceedings of the American Statistical Association, pp. 308–313.Google Scholar
Shrout, P. E., & Bolger, N. (2002). Mediation in experimental and nonexperimental studies: New procedures and recommendations. Psychological Methods, 7, 422445.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sobel, M. E. (1982). Asymptotic confidence intervals for indirect effects in structural equation models. Sociological Methodology, 13, 290312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wang, M., Cheng, C., & Chen, S.-W. (2006). Contribution of morphological awareness to Chinese–English biliteracy acquisition. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 542553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wang, M., Park, Y., & Lee, K. R. (2006). Korean–English biliteracy acquisition: Cross-language phonological and orthographic transfer. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 148158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wang, M., Yang, C., & Cheng, C. (2009). The contributions of phonology, orthography, and morphology in Chinese–English biliteracy acquisition. Applied Psycholinguistics, 30, 291314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wysocki, K., & Jenkins, J. R. (1987). Deriving word meanings through morphological generalization. Reading Research Quarterly, 22, 6681.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zhang, D., & Koda, K. (in press). Contribution of morphological awareness and lexical inferencing ability to L2 vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension among advanced EFL learners: Testing direct and indirect effects. Reading and Writing.Google Scholar
Zhang, J., Anderson, R. C., Li, H., Dong, Q., Yu, X., & Zhang, Y. (2010). Cross-language transfer of insights into the structure of compound words. Reading and Writing, 23, 311336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 44
Total number of PDF views: 458 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th January 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Hostname: page-component-76cb886bbf-rm8z7 Total loading time: 0.248 Render date: 2021-01-24T04:20:55.382Z Query parameters: { "hasAccess": "0", "openAccess": "0", "isLogged": "0", "lang": "en" } Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false }

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Linguistic distance effect on cross-linguistic transfer of morphological awareness
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Linguistic distance effect on cross-linguistic transfer of morphological awareness
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Linguistic distance effect on cross-linguistic transfer of morphological awareness
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *