Second Language Reading Acquisition in Languages with Different Writing Systems

A special issue of Languages (ISSN 2226-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2023) | Viewed by 8317

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Early Childhood Education, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
Interests: language development and reading acquisition; reading intervention; Chinese-English bilingual reading

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Guest Editor
School of Education, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
Interests: literacy development; English learners; reading comprehension; vocabulary; cross-language transfer
Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
Interests: language and reading development; bilingual literacy; second language reading

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The goal of this Special Issue is to showcase “Second Language Reading Acquisition in Languages with Different Writing Systems”. In modern society, more than half of the world’s population are learning a second language (L2) . English, for instance, is the most learned L2 worldwide, with around 900 million people learning it as a new language (Eberhard et al., 2020). Learning to read in an L2 is different from learning to read in the first language. Empirical investigation for understanding L2 reading acquisition is of significant importance to support the vast number of L2 learners. Specifically, this Special Issue will examine L2 reading acquisition at the word level, covering diverse learners from languages with different writing systems for a fuller picture.

Written word acquisition is the foundation of reading acquisition, and thus a major benchmark that children must meet in order to advance their early reading capacities. Theoretical models of reading have primarily focused on the relations among three reading components: phonology, orthography, and semantics (see the Lexical Quality Hypothesis, Perfetti, 2007). At the word level, acquiring a new written word refers to knowing how a word is pronounced, spelled, and what it conceptually means. Relatively, less is known about L2 learners’ written word learning in the literature. Experiments that examine how L2 written word learning occurs at both behavioral and neural levels, and its optimal learning conditions, as well as approaches that can promote L2 written word learning can enrich existing reading theories. The findings from the collection of studies in this Special Issue will also benefit educators and teachers who work with L2 children’s language and literacy learning.

We are interested in soliciting a set of empirical studies across languages with different writing systems that address the following possible research questions, covering diverse learners including developing and skilled learners, learners with or without different sets of difficulties (e.g., reading difficulties, autism, specific language impairment, or genetic syndromes):

  • How do the writing-system specific features of the first language influence learning to read an L2?
  • What are the specific cognitive effects of these features on L2 reading? Do they vary across writing systems?
  • What are the optimal learning conditions for learning to read an L2? Are there any effective approaches promoting L2 word learning?
  • What are the cognitive neuroscience markers of written word learning in L2 readers that could be evidenced with data elicited via different methodologies such as eye tracking, ERP, and fMRI?

Clearly, more investigations on languages and writing systems that have been historically less studied are warranted for a universal science of reading (Share, 2008). Hence, we will be especially interested in submissions on diverse, less-studied languages and writing systems with less studied language and writing system features. Papers from any language and writing system contexts, as long as they fit into the scope of this special issue, are welcome.

The proposed Special Issue will fill in a gap in the recent special issue “Language and Literacy in Bilingual Learners” published in Languages in 2021, volume 6, which focused on the link between oral language and literacy, as well as home language assessment and instruction of heritage speakers and recent immigrants. In addition, Reading and Writing published a special issue in 2010, volume 23, entitled “Acquiring Reading in Two Languages: Linguistic and Orthographic Factors”. This Special Issue mainly concentrated on cross-language transfer of metalinguistic skills (e.g., phonological and morphological awareness) in developing readers. Our proposed Special Issue will include studies across a wider range of aspects of reading acquisition not limited to phonological and morphological awareness, and diverse L2 populations including developing and skilled learners, learners with or without varieties of difficulties (e.g., reading difficulties, autism, SLI, or genetic syndromes).

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit (1) a proposed title, (2) an abstract of 400-600 words summarizing their intended contribution, and (3) a bibliography. Please send it to the guest editors: Dr. Annie Yixun Li ([email protected]), Dr. Adrian Pasquarella ([email protected]), and Dr. Min Wang ([email protected]) or to Languages editorial office ([email protected]). Abstracts will be reviewed by the guest editors for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the Special Issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer-review.

The tentative completion schedule is as follows:

  • Abstract submission deadline: 31 March 2022
  • Notification of abstract acceptance: 15 April 2022
  • Full manuscript deadline: 31 May 2023

References:

Eberhard, D. M., Gary, F. S., & Charles, D. F. (2020). Ethnologue: Languages of the World (23rd ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International.

Perfetti, C. (2007). Reading ability: Lexical quality to comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading11(4), 357-383. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888430701530730 

Share, D.L. (2008). On the anglocentricities of current reading research and practice: The perils of overreliance on an “outlier” orthography. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 584–615. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.134.4.584

Dr. Annie Yixun Li
Dr. Adrian Pasquarella 
Dr. Min Wang
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Languages is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • second language reading
  • cross-language transfer
  • orthographic learning
  • phonological learning
  • semantic learning

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

22 pages, 491 KiB  
Article
Age, Experience and Language and Literacy Skills in English-Arabic Speaking Syrian Refugees
by Alexandra Gottardo, Redab Al-Janaideh, Johanne Paradis, Adriana Soto-Corominas, Xi Chen and Norah Amin
Languages 2023, 8(2), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages8020101 - 03 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1751
Abstract
Although age of acquisition (AoA) is frequently used when examining the endpoint of second language (L2) learning, it is rarely used to examine the initial phases of L2 acquisition. The present study provided a unique look at the role of AoA in early [...] Read more.
Although age of acquisition (AoA) is frequently used when examining the endpoint of second language (L2) learning, it is rarely used to examine the initial phases of L2 acquisition. The present study provided a unique look at the role of AoA in early language and literacy acquisition in the L2 by a priori selecting two groups of Arabic-English speakers based on their ages, 6–8-year-olds (N = 43) and 9–13-year-olds (N = 53). These Syrian refugees were matched on English experience, having immigrated to Canada and having learned English for two years or less. Raw scores on language and literacy measures were compared across groups. The older group had higher scores on all first language (L1) variables. The groups did not differ on most L2 variables except for English word reading. Additionally, L1 and L2 variables were examined in relation to English word and pseudoword reading with different patterns of relations found for the two groups. For the younger group, phonological awareness and vocabulary were related to reading, while for the older group phonological awareness and morphological awareness were key predictors. These finding points to the unique relations among age, age of acquisition, L1 skills, and L2 language and literacy skills. Full article
19 pages, 439 KiB  
Article
The Role of Context in Learning to Read Languages That Use Different Writing Systems and Scripts: Urdu and English
by Amna Mirza and Alexandra Gottardo
Languages 2023, 8(1), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages8010086 - 16 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2544
Abstract
Language learning involves linguistic and societal factors that interact to facilitate or hinder second language learning. Different contextual factors provide an opportunity to examine and understand the similarities and differences that occur among bilingual children who learn the same first (L1) and second [...] Read more.
Language learning involves linguistic and societal factors that interact to facilitate or hinder second language learning. Different contextual factors provide an opportunity to examine and understand the similarities and differences that occur among bilingual children who learn the same first (L1) and second language (L2) in different countries and contexts. This paper explored the role of context, learners’ profiles and linguistic differences of Urdu–English bilinguals in Canada and Pakistan. Within- and cross-linguistic comparisons were conducted for 76 Urdu–English speakers from Pakistan and 50 participants from Canada. Children, ages 8–10 years, were tested on language and literacy measures in both languages. Group comparisons of performance on language measures across languages and countries confirmed that relative strengths were based on the societal languages of each country (Urdu in Pakistan and English in Canada). Despite some similarities in relations among skills within language, differences in the language learning context provided interesting findings regarding the role of L1 skills for acquiring L2 reading skills. These findings challenge the theories developed using data from L2 learners, where learners acquire the societal language in immersion contexts, such as in North America or Europe. Full article
19 pages, 854 KiB  
Article
Syntactic Awareness and Reading Comprehension in Emergent Bilingual Children
by Diana Burchell, Kathleen Hipfner-Boucher, S. Hélène Deacon, Poh Wee Koh and Xi Chen
Languages 2023, 8(1), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages8010062 - 23 Feb 2023
Viewed by 2664
Abstract
The present study investigated the role of syntactic awareness in reading comprehension among English–French bilinguals learning French as an additional language in Canadian French immersion programs. We examined the direct effect of French syntactic awareness on French reading comprehension as well as the [...] Read more.
The present study investigated the role of syntactic awareness in reading comprehension among English–French bilinguals learning French as an additional language in Canadian French immersion programs. We examined the direct effect of French syntactic awareness on French reading comprehension as well as the indirect effects mediated through French word reading and French vocabulary. We further examined the extent to which English syntactic awareness contributed to French reading comprehension through cross-language transfer, again considering both the direct effect and the indirect effects through French word reading and French vocabulary. Mediation analyses indicated that, within French, the relationship between French syntactic awareness and French reading comprehension was fully mediated by both French word reading and French vocabulary. In contrast, English syntactic awareness contributed directly to French reading comprehension. Finally, French word reading partially mediated the relationship between English syntactic awareness and French reading comprehension. Our study suggests that children who learn French as an additional language rely on word reading and vocabulary, in addition to French syntactic awareness, to comprehend French texts. Given that English is French immersion children’s stronger language, they use English syntactic awareness to support French reading comprehension both directly and indirectly through French word reading. Full article
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