Morphological Awareness and Reading Development in Bilingual English-Chinese Children in Singapore

  • Baoqi SunEmail author
  • Xiao Lan Curdt-Christiansen
Part of the Education Innovation Series book series (EDIN)


Addressing two aspects of morphological awareness – derivational and compound – this study investigates the relationships between morphological awareness and vocabulary and reading comprehension in English-Chinese bilingual primary 3 children in Singapore (N = 76). Comparable tasks in Chinese and English were administered to examine the children’s morphological awareness, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. The results show that morphological awareness is highly related to vocabulary and reading comprehension, with higher correlations between morphological awareness and reading comprehension than between morphological awareness and vocabulary. This indicates that morphological awareness may have direct influence on reading comprehension beyond the mediating effect of vocabulary. Furthermore, the results indicate that children displayed more compound than derivational morphological awareness for Chinese due to the dominance of compound morphology in Chinese. However, the children also displayed similar levels of derivational and compound morphological awareness for English despite far more derivatives than compounds in English. The robust crosslinguistic correlations suggest that Chinese compound morphological knowledge plays a facilitating role not only in learning English compounds but also in learning transparently derived words that do not involve phonological or orthographic shifts.


Reading Comprehension Phonological Awareness Morphological Awareness Compound Word Bilingual Child 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This chapter refers to data from the research project “Metalinguistic Knowledge and Bilingual Academic Performance” (OER35/09XLC), funded by the Education Research Funding Programme, National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. The views expressed in this paper are the authors’ and do not necessarily represent the views of the NIE. The authors wish to express their gratitude to the participating schools, teachers, and students.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.English Language and LiteratureNational Institute of EducationSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Institute of EducationUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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