Reading and Writing

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 945–968 | Cite as

Differential growth patterns in emerging reading skills of Turkish-German bilingual and German monolingual primary school students

  • Christina K. Limbird
  • Jessica T. MaluchEmail author
  • Camilla Rjosk
  • Petra Stanat
  • Hans Merkens


Students from Turkish-speaking families are the largest minority language group in Germany. Yet, little is known about this group’s literacy development. Using data from a 3-year longitudinal study, we examined whether the same base reading skills are involved in early reading comprehension of 100 Turkish-German bilingual and 69 German monolingual children. We applied a basic theoretical model of reading development to examine how emerging literacy develops for monolingual compared to bilingual children. Both the bilingual and monolingual children in this sample developed the investigated base reading skills at the same rate. However, the relations among phonological awareness, German vocabulary, and word decoding showed differential patterns in the development of German reading comprehension skills for the two groups: monolingual children appeared to make use of their phonological awareness skills more, whereas reading comprehension depended more on vocabulary skills for bilingual readers. Our findings indicate that bilingual emerging readers require specialized models of reading development to account for their unique routes into reading comprehension. The results of the study point to a need for increased attention to vocabulary building in the early phases of literacy acquisition for bilingual children.


Reading comprehension development Bilingualism Phonological awareness Predictors of emerging literacy Vocabulary 



This research was supported in part by grants from the International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course (LIFE).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina K. Limbird
    • 1
  • Jessica T. Maluch
    • 2
    Email author
  • Camilla Rjosk
    • 2
  • Petra Stanat
    • 2
  • Hans Merkens
    • 1
  1. 1.Free University of BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Educational Quality ImprovementHumboldt UniversityBerlinGermany

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