This study describes the language proficiency and early literacy skills of Cantonese-speaking English language learners (ELLs) in kindergarten. A total of 113 Cantonese-speaking kindergarteners in Canada and the United States, composed of three subsamples from three different locations participated in this study. Results showed that on average, the Cantonese-speaking ELLs in this study performed below average on vocabulary measures when compared with monolingual norms, but at or above average on English letter-word identification and phonological awareness (PA) tasks. Cluster analysis was used to identify two new groups of children based on their language proficiency in each language: English dominant and Cantonese dominant. There were no differences on PA in English and Cantonese between the cluster groups. However, the English dominant group performed significantly higher on English vocabulary and English decoding than the Cantonese dominant group. At the same time, the Cantonese dominant group performed significantly higher on Cantonese vocabulary and Cantonese word reading than the English dominant group. Finally, multiple regression analysis revealed that there was cross-language facilitation of PA on Chinese character recognition. Educational implications and directions for future research are discussed.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 12, 2011
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