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LINGUIST List 22.2989

Fri Jul 22 2011

Diss: Applied Ling: McDowell: 'The Relationship Between ...'

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        1.     Heather McDowell , The Relationship Between Phonological Awareness And Alphabetic Literacy With Reference To L1 Chinese Users of L2 English

Message 1: The Relationship Between Phonological Awareness And Alphabetic Literacy With Reference To L1 Chinese Users of L2 English
Date: 22-Jul-2011
From: Heather McDowell <heatherjmcdowellyahoo.co.uk>
Subject: The Relationship Between Phonological Awareness And Alphabetic Literacy With Reference To L1 Chinese Users of L2 English
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Institution: Birkbeck College, University of London
Program: Applied Linguistics and Communication
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2011

Author: Heather McDowell

Dissertation Title: The Relationship Between Phonological Awareness And
Alphabetic Literacy With Reference To L1 Chinese Users of
L2 English

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics


Dissertation Director(s):
Marjorie Perlman Lorch
Zhu Hua

Dissertation Abstract:

Phonological awareness is considered fundamentally important to literacy
acquisition; however, the exact nature of its relationship with alphabetic
literacy appears complex. Individuals who are illiterate, preliterate or
literate only in a non-alphabetic script display minimal amounts of phonemic
awareness; meanwhile, L1 English adults are subject to orthographic effects in
phonological awareness tasks. This confirms a close association between
phonological awareness and orthography but raises questions concerning the
validity of phonemic awareness as an independent construct. Crucially, previous
research has also demonstrated weak phonemic awareness despite years of
alphabetic literacy in the specific case of L2 English users from Hong Kong,
coupled with strong performance by Mainland Chinese Pinyin-literates. It is
therefore important to explore the extent of the phonological awareness
displayed by these groups, in the light of their differing linguistic and
educational backgrounds.

This thesis is an empirical investigation designed to build a fine-grained
picture of the phonological awareness of teenage L1 Chinese users of L2 English
from Mainland China and Hong Kong, alongside age-matched L1 English
participants. A number of new differentiated phonological awareness tests and
stimuli were created to enable examination of performance across a range of
controlled phonological, orthographic and lexical environments.

Results indicate weak phonemic awareness in the Hong Kong group, while
Mainland Chinese participants gained high phonemic awareness scores but
experienced difficulty in syllable segmentation. Meanwhile, the English group
demonstrated extensive but not fully elaborated phonological awareness.
Performance varied across tasks and stimuli, with group-specific patterns
suggestive of susceptibility to certain orthographic and phonological
anipulations. This points to phonological awareness being highly differentiated
and derived from multiple input sources including phonology, orthography and
explicit training. It is suggested that the relationship between phonological
awareness and alphabetic literacy forms a complex interaction which may display
specific features in groups with differing L1 and L2 literacy.

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