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Chinese Speakers and

the English Language


Question: What are the best practices to help
native Chinese speakers become literate in the
English language?

Shelley Kennedy. 1st Grade Teacher. Mobile, AL.


Research Overview- Reading #1
Chapter One: Factors Influencing Second-
Language Literacy Development
Teachers are left to put the roadmap together on their own (p. 2)
Factors influencing second-language literacy learning
Areas of Literacy Focus
Phonology
Syntax
Morphology
Vocabulary
Cognates

Helman, L. (Ed.). (2016).Literacy development with English learners: Research-based instruction in grades K-
6(2nd ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Research Overview- Reading #2
Chapter Five: The Literacy Development of
Emergent Bilinguals
Students have unique social and language backgrounds, and teachers bend
instruction to help students resolve what confusions there might be between
students primary languages and English (p. 112)
What do we know about our ELLs literacy development?
We have found that the literacy learning of emergent bilinguals follows a very
similar developmental sequence as that of native speakers, but with a twist: Their
learning is tempered by what they know about multiple languages and other
literacies (p. 115)
Emergent bilinguals bring their primary languages and literacies to learning to read
and write in English. The more they know about language and literacy in one
language, the better prepared they are to learn to read and write in English.
Although there are genuine differences among literacies, there are also many
commonalities across writing systems, even between Chinese and English. (p. 118)

Helman, L. (Ed.). (2016).Literacy development with English learners: Research-based instruction in grades K-
6(2nd ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Research Overview- Reading #3
Language Proficiency, Reading, and the Chinese-Speaking
English Language Learner
Facilitating the L1-L2 Connection
A Case Study
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Chinese, second only to Spanish, is the most widely
spoken non-English language in the U.S. p. 44
However, Chinese has a difficult logographic code for children to learn, and Xin Wei did not
appear to have learned to decode accurately the Chinese ideographic system. He has limited
cognitive knowledge of decoding available for transfers from his L1 to his L2, as well as an
extremely limited English receptive vocabulary. p. 47
During these sessions, they worked on building language proficiency and building
connections between Chinese and English. An integral part of these biweekly interventions
included direct, explicit instruction in English decoding, comprehension, and fluency. each
lesson was based on reading a selection that would challenge Xin Wei and also capture his
attention. Then the tutor either modeled a fluent reading of the passage or asked Xin Wei to
listen to a taped recording of the passage. The tutor Scaffolded Xin Wei through a second
reading of the passage using echo reading, unison reading, or assisted cloze reading. p. 48

Palmer, B. C., Zhang, N., Taylor, S. H., & Leclere, J. T. (2010). Language Proficiency, Reading, and the Chinese-
Speaking English Language Learner: Facilitating the L1-L2 Connection. Multicultural Education, 17(2), 44-51.
Research Overview- Reading #3- Continued
Language Proficiency, Reading, and the Chinese-Speaking
English Language Learner
Facilitating the L1-L2 Connection
A Case Study
Sheltering Strategies
enhanced content area instruction and language development while also rapidly
building language proficiency (p. 44)

Palmer, B. C., Zhang, N., Taylor, S. H., & Leclere, J. T. (2010). Language Proficiency, Reading, and the Chinese-
Speaking English Language Learner: Facilitating the L1-L2 Connection. Multicultural Education, 17(2), 44-51.
Research Overview- Reading #4
Phonemic Awareness in Chinese L1 Readers
of English
Not Simply an Effect of Orthography
In addition to support L1 alphabetic reading acquisition, phonemic
awareness is also important for L2 English learners. Many EFL students have
pre-existing awareness of phonemes from L1 alphabetic literacy, and there is
evidence to suggest that once this has development, it can be applied to
later-learned languages.
However, individuals who have not previously had an explicit demonstration
of phonemes in their L1 will require specific exposure in order to develop the
phonemic awareness necessary for efficient L2 English decoding p. 498
Byrne, Freebody, and Gates (1992) demonstrated that although individuals
with poor decoding skills may painstakingly acquire a large reading
vocabulary, underspecified phonemic awareness can lead to later difficulties
in reading fluently, particularly when encountering unfamiliar words. p. 498
McDowell, H. J. and Lorch, M. P. (2008), Phonemic Awareness in Chinese L1 Readers of English: Not Simply an
Effect of Orthography. TESOL Quarterly, 42: 495513
Research Overview- Reading #5
The Role of Morphological Awareness in Reading
Achievement Among Young Chinese-Speaking English
Language Learners
A Longitudinal Study
It is possible that ELLs in general have lower levels of morphological
awareness than native speakers due to their reduced exposure to English. p.
1848
Chinese-speaking ELLs performed similarly to native English speakers in
compound awareness most likely to do the fact that compounding is more
prominent in Chinese than in Spanish. p. 1849
Compounding is the most prominent word formation process in Chineseover
75% of the words in Modern Chinese are compounds. Further, most Chinese
compounds are semantically transparent such that the meaning of each
morpheme contributes directly to the meaning of the word. It has been shown
that the salient compounding features in Chinese lead to a high level of
compound awareness in monolingual Chinese speakers in the early grades. p.
1864
Lam, K., Chen, X., Geva, E., Luo, Y. C., & Li, H. (2011). The role of morphological awareness in reading
achievement among young Chinese-speaking English language learners: a longitudinal study. Reading and Writing,
Question: What are the best practices to
help native Chinese speakers become
literate in the English language?
#1- Become familiar with your Chinese ELLs
literacy journey

Communicate with parents/ interview


Student records
Literacy Assessments
Informal student interview
Oral reading observation
Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test
Names Test
Jennings Informal Reading Inventory
Comprehensive Reading Inventory
Translating Chinese writing to English
#2-Become informed of Language
Similarities/Differences

Language Research
Recommend reading Learner English: A
Teacher's Guide to Interference and Other
Problems (Cambridge Handbooks for
Language Teachers) Edited by Michael
Swan and Bernard Smith
#3- Provide concrete experiences and meaningful practice
#4- Provide direct, explicit instruction in
focus literacy areas
Becoming familiar with your ELLs literacy journey and literacy needs will
guide you towards their deficiencies and strengths
Build teaching/interventions based on need
#5- Do not be afraid of your ELLs native
language to utilize their English
Translate English words into their own language to arrive at meaning
Writing in native language
Translating
Next steps for
Professional Practice
Next Steps

Researching language connections


Explicit interventions
Writing strategies for a reluctant writer
Continue researching best practices for ELLs
THANK YOU