Yaqi Shen (Penn State)
January 21, 2022
9:00 am

Yaqi Shen (Penn State)

Convergent evidence suggests that, for bilingual learners, well-developed morphological awareness in the first or second language may facilitate second language reading comprehension. However, there may be important differences between types of morphological awareness which could affect the degree to which second language reading comprehension is facilitated. In order to understand how different aspects of morphological awareness in each language contribute to English reading comprehension and vocabulary knowledge, Yaqi conducted two studies for her dissertation. In study 1, she developed a new Chinese derivational awareness measure, piloted it, and validated it by the Normal-Ogive Harmonic Analysis Robust Method. The findings of study 1 showed that the measure assesses a unidimensional construct. Results also suggested that Chinese middle schoolers were able to effectively manipulate and produce derived forms. Ninth-graders performed slightly better on the test than seventh-graders, indicating that Chinese middle schoolers’ derivational awareness develops over time. In study 2, she traced literacy skills of Chinese adolescents who are learning English as a Foreign Language over the course of half a year and explored the possible relationship between morphological awareness in Chinese and English with English reading-related skills using hierarchical linear regression. The findings showed that compound awareness correlated across languages at both time points providing some tentative evidence of cross-linguistic transfer. In the hierarchical linear regression models predicting English vocabulary knowledge and models predicting English reading comprehension, Chinese derivational awareness did not explain unique variance. English derivational awareness was a significant predictor of English reading comprehension, and English compound awareness was a significant predictor of English vocabulary knowledge. Intriguingly, she noted that some participants’ responses to the English derivational awareness items were inventive (e.g., “adventureful”), suggesting that they may apply syntactic knowledge encoded in the suffixes to aid the comprehension process. The study provides insight to inform instruction by identifying aspects of morphological awareness in which language are most critical for English reading-related skills.