Speaker: Ms. Sofia Lau

Title:  The Role of Visual Processing and Phonological Awareness in Word Reading among Mandarin and Malay Bilinguals

Date: Tuesday, 15 March, 12-1 pm 

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room) 


Bilingual learners with different language backgrounds (LB) have been found to develop their second language reading skills using different modes of processing (Muljani, Koda, & Moates, 1998).  These differences, often referred to as visual vs phonological, have been attributed to the transparency of the orthography-phonology mappings of their first written language (L1). (Franceshini, Gori, Ruffino, Pedrolli and Facoett, 2012). The aim of this study was to investigate the extent to which the linguistic structure of Singaporean bilinguals’ home language influences non-lexical phonological processing of English words and nonwords. Mandarin-English (n=30) and Malay-English (n=30) bilinguals (aged 6-8 years) were matched pairwise for age, nonverbal intelligence, and English receptive vocabulary, and performance on phonological awareness (PA), visual processing (VP), reading and spelling was assessed.  Consistent with the orthography-phonology relationships in their home languages, the results showed that the Mandarin-English children had developed significantly better visual processing ability whilst the Malay-English children had developed significantly better phonological awareness and were better at decoding nonwords. Despite no group differences in reading performance overall, separate hierarchical regression analyses revealed that VP as well as PA predicted accuracy for regular inconsistent words for the Mandarin-English bilinguals, but not for the Malay-English bilinguals. Pedagogical implications are briefly discussed.

About the Speaker:

 Sofia is currently a Masters students in the NUS Psychology Department, and is interested in bilingualism, particularly in the acquisition of a second language (in this case, the English Language). She hopes to investigate the cognitive processes that underlie one’s mastery of a new language. 

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