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L1 Impacts on L2 Component Reading Skills, Word Skills, and Overall Reading Achievement

Martin, Katherine I. (2015) L1 Impacts on L2 Component Reading Skills, Word Skills, and Overall Reading Achievement. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Learning to read in a second language as an adult is different in many ways from learning to read in a first language. Unlike children, adult second language (L2) learners have limited knowledge of the target language but may already have fluent reading skills in their first language (L1). These initial reading skills develop to be specifically tuned to the characteristics of the L1 writing system, and may not be optimized for literacy in the L2 (e.g., Frost, 2012; Koda, 2004). This dissertation consists of a program of research designed to examine the impacts that these L1 writing system characteristics have on the development of literacy skills in English as a second language (ESL). Study 1 examined performance on two fundamental literacy skills, phonological awareness and orthographic knowledge, as a function of L1 background and task demands. These data were collected abroad from native French, Hebrew, and Mandarin Chinese speakers, as well as native English speakers, and show clear influences of both L1 orthography and phonology on literacy skill performance. The large differences in performance associated with varying task demands have implications for accurately measuring and understanding students’ underlying abilities. Study 2 examined the contributions of phonological awareness and orthographic knowledge to three measures of word identification: lexical decision, word naming, and pseudoword decoding, as well as global reading comprehension. These data reveal differential performance on the word identification tasks across L1s, as well as differential contributions of phonological awareness and orthographic knowledge to word identification. Study 2 again revealed the effects of task demands on the relationships between sub-lexical literacy skills and word identification. Finally, Study 3 examined the development of language and literacy in adult ESL classroom learners who received either traditional reading instruction or a set of supplemental lessons providing a phonics-based instructional intervention. The results show influences of L1 background as well as different developmental patterns for phonological and orthographic skills based on the type of curriculum students received. The discussion highlights the contributions of this work to understanding cross-linguistic literacy skills and the importance of considering task demands when choosing language assessment measures.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Martin, Katherine I.kim20@pitt.eduKIM20
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairJuffs, Alanjuffs@pitt.eduJUFFS
Committee MemberKoda,
Committee MemberPerfetti, Charlesperfetti@pitt.eduPERFETTI
Committee MemberShirai,
Committee MemberTokowicz, Natashatokowicz@pitt.eduTOKOWICZ
Date: 22 June 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 6 April 2015
Approval Date: 22 June 2015
Submission Date: 17 April 2015
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 347
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Linguistics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: ESL, literacy, phonological awareness, orthographic knowledge, cross-linguistic comparisons
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2015 13:37
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 05:15


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