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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Relationship Between Phonological Awareness And Alphabetic Literacy With Reference To L1 Chinese Users of L2 English Add Dissertation
Author: Heather McDowell Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Birkbeck College, University of London, Applied Linguistics and Communication
Completed in: 2011
Linguistic Subfield(s): Applied Linguistics;
Director(s): Marjorie Lorch
Zhu Hua

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 manipulations. 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.