, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 411-431
Date: 30 Oct 2010

Do bilingual children possess better phonological awareness? Investigation of Korean monolingual and Korean-English bilingual children

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This study examined whether there are bilingual advantages in terms of phonological awareness (PA) for children acquiring two phonologically and orthographically different alphabetic languages and investigated the emergent literacy factors that explain variances in their PA, in comparison to monolingual children. The study participants comprised seventy 5- to 6-year-old Korean-English bilingual children who had attended English-medium kindergartens for at least 2 years and fifty-six Korean monolingual children whose age and L1 oral language proficiency were matched to the bilingual participants. They were tested on a range of PA and emergent literacy skill measures including decoding skills in both Korean and English. The study findings indicated that (1) the bilingual children had a bilingual advantage in PA tasks in both L1 and L2, (2) there was language transfer in processing L1 and L2 PA for both bilingual and monolingual children, and (3) the PA of the two groups was explained by different factors. The results are discussed in terms of language-specific L1 characteristics and the potential effects of instructional differences in language arts.