Reducing early literacy differences in preschool children from low-SES families: The effects of an early metalinguistic intervention

Project: Research project

Project Details


Literacy is vital to children’s academic achievement throughout their school years. However, most children from families with low socio-economic status (SES) are at risk of making poor progress in cognitive and language skills, thereby adversely affecting their later academic achievement. The academic achievement gap between disadvantaged and advantaged children seems to play an important role in the intergenerational transmission of poverty. The academic inequalities linked with low SES begin in early childhood and may persist and worsen over time. Increasing evidence has found that Hong Kong preschool children from low-SES backgrounds tend to lag behind their middle-SES peers in language and literary skills. To assist at-risk children from low-SES families and provide them with opportunities to thrive academically, the proposed project intends to develop and implement early literacy intervention programmes based on home-school collaboration and education for Chinese preschool children with low SES. The project also examines the effect of SES on metalinguistic and literacy skills, as well as investigates the metalinguistic profile involved in the literacy development of children from low-SES backgrounds. A total of 240 grade 3 (K3) kindergartners will be recruited from two regions in Hong Kong and will be assigned to either the intervention or non-intervention group. Among the 180 low-SES children, 120 will be equally divided into two intervention groups: the home-school collaborative and school literacy programmes. These programmes will administer training in six domains, namely, orthographic skills, morphological skills, phonological skills, vocabulary knowledge, oral language, and simple writing skills. The remaining 60 low- and 60 middle-SES children will act as controls. We expect that children will benefit more from the home-school and school intervention conditions relative to other non-intervention conditions and would benefit more from the home-school intervention than from the school intervention conditions. This project has theoretical and practical implications. The findings would help clarify the factors that hinder the literacy achievement of low-SES children. Moreover, the findings will assist researchers and educators in understanding the language and literacy skills of Hong Kong children from low-SES backgrounds including home environment factors and social emotional skills. The results will also practically promote home-school collaboration in the literacy development of children, promote parent/teacher and child relationship, and provide appropriate curriculum content and instructional and supporting strategies for these children. Importantly, this study will provide research-based evidence for formulating public policies and services, targeting the issues of early language and literacy intervention, poverty, and early childhood education.

Funding Source: HKSAR Govt - SCOLAR/Language Fund
Effective start/end date08/02/1607/08/18


  • early metalinguistic intervention


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