Article

Reading and Writing

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 311-336

First online:

Cross-language transfer of insight into the structure of compound words

  • Jie ZhangAffiliated withCenter for the Study of Reading, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • , Richard C. AndersonAffiliated withCenter for the Study of Reading, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Email author 
  • , Hong LiAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Beijing Normal University
  • , Qiong DongAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Beijing Normal University
  • , Xinchun WuAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Beijing Normal University
  • , Yan ZhangAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Beijing Normal University

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Abstract

Cross-language transfer of awareness of the structure of compound words was investigated among native speakers of Chinese who were learning English as a second language. Chinese fifth graders received instruction in the morphology of four types of compound words in either Chinese or English. They then completed both the Chinese and English versions of a compound word structure analogy task. Compared with children who received no instruction, children who received instruction in Chinese were able to transfer knowledge they had acquired of compound types in Chinese to comparable types in English. Reverse transfer from English to Chinese was found among children with high reading proficiency.

Keywords

Morphological awareness Cross-language transfer Compound morphology Reading proficiency