The effects of L1 orthographic features and phonological awareness on Chinese speakers learning to read in English



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This report focuses on language transference between alphabetic (English) and logographic, non-alphabetic (Chinese) languages, with respect to the importance of phonemic awareness in literacy acquisition. Within large ESL/EFL classrooms, language learners from all cultures are taught in the same way. Instruction rarely caters for specific problems directly associated with L1 transfer or the learner’s culture. The purpose of this report is not only to gain a better understanding of the differences in literacy acquisition between the two languages (English and Chinese), but also to assess the impact of this difference on Chinese children learning how to read in English. Research is examined that focuses on the role that phonemic awareness plays in the acquisition of English literacy and in the acquisition of Chinese literacy. The relationship between Chinese orthographic features and word recognition processing in English as a second language is explored as well as cross-language transfer of phonological awareness and its effect on English literacy acquisition. Pedagogical implications are also discussed on how to apply these findings to the classroom for instructors of English as a second language.