Special Issue "Second Language Reading Acquisition in Languages with Different Writing Systems"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2022) | Viewed by 540

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Annie Yixun Li
E-Mail Website
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
Dr. Adrian Pasquarella
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Education, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
Interests: literacy development; English learners; reading comprehension; vocabulary; cross-language transfer
Dr. Min Wang
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
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: 30 June 2022


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 quarterly 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.


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

Published Papers

There is no accepted submissions to this special issue at this moment.
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