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The same or different: An investigation of cognitive and metalinguistic correlates of Chinese word reading for native and non-native Chinese speaking children

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 June 2015

The Hong Kong Institute of Education
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Address for correspondence: Dr. Yanling Zhou Room 33, 1/F, Block B2, Department of Early Childhood Education, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 10, Lo Ping Road, Tai Po, Hong Kong SAR.


We investigated cognitive and metalinguistic correlates of Chinese word reading in children with L2 Chinese learning experience and compared these to those in L1 Chinese speaking children. In total, 102 third and fourth grade children were recruited for the study. We examined a range of Chinese and English word reading related cognitive and metalinguistic skills. Compared to the native Chinese speaking group (NCSS), the non-native Chinese speaking group (NNCS) only performed better in English vocabulary knowledge and English working memory. On Chinese word reading related skills the NNCS group performed significantly worse than the NCS group. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that the unique correlates of Chinese word reading for both groups were Chinese vocabulary, working memory, lexical tone awareness, and orthographic skills. For the NNCS group only, visual skills were also unique correlates of word reading skills. The results suggest cognitive similarities and differences in reading among native and non-native Chinese speakers.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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*Preparation of this manuscript was made possible by the Public Policy Research Funding Scheme (#6903655) from the Hong Kong Government. We thank Gladys Wing-Sum Lui for administrative help.


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