Reading and Writing

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 345–379 | Cite as

Effects of variations in orthographic information on Asian and American readers' English text reading

  • Nancy Ewald Jackson
  • Huanwen Chen
  • Lonie Goldsberry
  • Ahyoung Kim
  • Carla Vanderwerff


Orthographies vary in the support they provide for word identification based on grapheme-phoneme correspondences. If skills developed in acquisition of first-language (L1) reading transfer to reading English as a foreign language (EFL), the extent to which EFL readers' word identification shows reliance on information other than grapheme-phoneme correspondences could be expected to vary with whether their L1 orthography is a non-Roman alphabet such as Korean hangul or a nonalphabetic (morpho-syllabic) system such as Chinese characters. Another influence could be whether EFL readers have learned to read a morpho-syllabic L1 by means of an alphabetic transliteration. English text reading speeds and oral reading quality ratings of three groups of adult Asian EFL readers attending an American university were compared with those of two groups of American L1 readers: Graduate student peers and eighth-grade students. All EFL groups read more slowly than both groups of L1 readers, and their reading was more impaired when orthographic cues were disrupted by mixed case print or pseudohomophone spellings. Some of these effects were reduced in EFL readers from Hong Kong, who had earlier exposure to English. Contrary to previous findings, no effects could be attributed to type of first orthography or early exposure to alphabetic transliteration of Chinese characters, which differentiated the Taiwanese and Hong Kong groups. As a whole, the results suggest that, at least across the L1 groups studied, differences in EFL word reading are associated less with type of L1 orthography than with history of exposure to English.

Cross-language study Chinese EFL (English as a foreign language) Reading Korean Orthography Second-language reading Text-reading speed Word-reading strategies 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Akamatsu, N. (1999). The effects of first language orthographic features on word recognition processing in English as a second language, Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal11: 381–403 (this issue).Google Scholar
  2. Baluch, B. & Besner, D. (1991). Visual word recognition: Evidence for strategic control of lexical and nonlexical routines in oral reading, Journal of experimental psychology: Learning, memory, and cognition17: 644–652.Google Scholar
  3. Berninger, V.W. (ed.) (1994). The varieties of orthographic knowledge, Vol.I: Theoretical and developmental issues. Dordrecht, Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, J.L., Bennett, J.M. & Hanna, G. (1981). The Nelson-Denny Reading Test. Chicago: Riverside Publishing.Google Scholar
  5. Brown, J.I., Fishco, V.V. & Hanna, G. (1993). The Nelson-Denny Reading Test, Forms G and H. Chicago: Riverside Publishing.Google Scholar
  6. Bryrne, B. & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1995). Evaluation of a program to teach phonemic awareness to young children: A 2–and 3–year follow-up and a new preschool trial, Journal of Educational Psychology87: 488–503.Google Scholar
  7. Carroll, J.B., Davies, P. & Richman, B. (1971). The American heritage: Word frequency book. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.Google Scholar
  8. Chen, Q. & Donin, J. (1997). Discourse processing of first and second language biology texts: Effects of language proficiency and domain-specific knowledge, The Modern Language Journal81: 209–227.Google Scholar
  9. Chen, H.-C. & Tzeng, O.J.L. (eds.) (1992). Language processing in Chinese. Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  10. Cohen, J. (1968). Weighted kappa: Nominal scale agreement with provision for scaled disagreement or partial credit, Psychological Bulletin70: 213–220.Google Scholar
  11. Coltheart, M., Curtis, B., Atkins, P. & Haller, M. (1993). Models of reading aloud: Dual-route and parallel-distributed-processing approaches, Psychological Review100: 589–608.Google Scholar
  12. Coyne, J. & Jackson, N.E. (1998). Text reading speed as a challenge for Asian EFL readers. Manuscript in revision.Google Scholar
  13. Crowder, R.G. & Wagner, R.K. (1992). The psychology of reading, 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Educational Testing Service (1995). 1995–96 Bulletin of information for TOEFL, TWE, and TSE. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.Google Scholar
  15. Foorman, B.R. (1994). Phonological and orthographic processing: Separate but equal? In: V.W. Berninger (ed.), The varieties of orthographic knowledge, Vol.I: Theoretical and developmental issues(pp. 319–355). Dordrecht, Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  16. Haynes, M. & Carr, T. (1990). Writing system background and second language reading: A component skills analysis of English reading by native speaker-readers of Chinese. In: T.H. Carr & B.A. Levy (eds.), Reading and its development: Component skills approaches. San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  17. Healy, A.R. & Cunningham, T.F. (1992). A developmental evaluation of the role of word shape in word recognition, Memory and Cognition20: 141–150.Google Scholar
  18. Holm, A. & Dodd, B. (1996). The effect of first written language on the acquisition of English literacy, Cognition59: 119–147.Google Scholar
  19. Hoosain, R. (1991). Psycholinguistic implications for linguistic relativity: A case study of Chinese. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  20. Huang, H. & Hanley, J. (1994). Phonological awareness and visual skills in learning to read Chinese and English, Cognition54: 73–98.Google Scholar
  21. Jackson, N.E. & Butterfield, E.C. (1989). Reading-level-match designs: Myths and realities, Journal of Reading Behavior21: 387–412.Google Scholar
  22. Jackson, N.E., Lu, W.-H. & Ju, D. (1994). Reading Chinese and reading English: Similarities, differencies, and second-language reading. In: V.W. Berninger (ed.), The varieties of orthographic knowledge, Vol.I: Theoretical and developmental issues(pp. 73–110). Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publisher.Google Scholar
  23. Ju, D. & Jackson, N.E. (1995). Graphic and phonological processing in Chinese character identification, Journal of Reading Behavior27: 299–313.Google Scholar
  24. Koda, K. (1987). Cognitive strategy transfer in second language reading. In: J. Devine, P.L. Carrell, & D.E. Eskey (eds.), Research in reading English as a second language. Washington, DC: TESOL.Google Scholar
  25. Koda, K. (1989). Effects of L1 orthographic representation on L2 phonological coding strategy, Journal of Psycholinguistic Research18.Google Scholar
  26. Newport, E.L. (1990). Maturational constraints on language learning, Cognitive Science14: 11–28.Google Scholar
  27. Olson, R., Forsberg, H. & Wise, B. (1994). Genes, environment, and the development of orthographic skills. In: V.W. Berninger (ed.), The varieties of orthographic knowledge, Vol.I: Theoretical and developmental issues(pp. 27–71). Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  28. Perfetti, C.A., Zhang, S. & Berent, I. (1992). Reading in English and Chinese: Evidence for a 'universal' phonological principle. In: R. Frost & L. Katz (eds.), Orthography, phonology, morphology, and meaning(pp. 227–248). Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  29. Share, D.L. & Stanovich, K.E. (1995). Cognitive processes in early reading development: Accommodating individual differences into a model of acquisition, Issues in Education1: 105–121.Google Scholar
  30. Simpson, G.B. & Kang, H. (1994). The flexible use of phonological information in word recognition in Korean, Journal of Memory and Language33: 319–331.Google Scholar
  31. Stanovich, K.E. & Siegel, L. (1994). Phenotypic performance profile of children with reading disabilities: A regression-based test of the phonological-core variable-difference model, Journal of Educational Psychology86: 24–53.Google Scholar
  32. Wade-Woolley, L. & Geva, E. (1999). Processing inflected morphology in second language word recognition: Russian-speakers and English-speakers read Hebrew, Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal11: 321–343 (this issue).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Ewald Jackson
    • 1
  • Huanwen Chen
    • 1
  • Lonie Goldsberry
    • 1
  • Ahyoung Kim
    • 1
  • Carla Vanderwerff
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IowaUSA

Personalised recommendations