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The development of reading in English and Italian in bilingual children

  • AMEDEO D'ANGIULLI (a1), LINDA S. SIEGEL (a1) and EMILY SERRA (a2)

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Canadian children (n = 81; 9–13 years) who spoke both English and Italian were administered phonological, reading, spelling, syntactic, and working memory tasks in both languages. There was a significant relationship between English and Italian across all phonological tasks. The relationship was less evident for syntactic skills and was generally absent for working memory measures. Analyses of phonological, syntactic, and memory processes based on levels of skill in English reading showed significantly better performance by skilled readers compared to less skilled readers; this was also true for the 11- to 13-year-olds compared to the 9- to 10-year-olds. Similar results were obtained as a function of levels of skill in Italian reading. On all Italian tasks, the bilingual children lagged behind monolingual children matched on age. However, less skilled and skilled bilingual Italian children had significantly higher scores than monolingual English–Canadian children (with comparable reading skills) on English tasks involving reading, spelling, syntactic awareness, and working memory. The results suggest that English–Italian interdependence is most clearly related to phonological processing, but it may influence other linguistic modules. In addition, exposure to a language with more predictable grapheme–phoneme correspondences, such as Italian, may enhance phonological skills in English.

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Corresponding author

Linda Siegel, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2125 Main Mall, Vancouver V6T 1Z4, British Columbia, Canada. E-mail: linda.siegel@ubc.ca

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The development of reading in English and Italian in bilingual children

  • AMEDEO D'ANGIULLI (a1), LINDA S. SIEGEL (a1) and EMILY SERRA (a2)

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