Speech perception, metalinguistic awareness, reading, and vocabulary in Chinese–English bilingual children

Him CHEUNG, Kevin Kien Hoa CHUNG, Wai Lap Simpson WONG, Catherine MCBRIDE-CHANG, Trevor Bruce PENNEY, Suk Han Connie HO

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36 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, we examined the intercorrelations among speech perception, metalinguistic (i.e., phonological and morphological) awareness, word reading, and vocabulary in a 1st language (L1) and a 2nd language (L2). Results from 3 age groups of Chinese–English bilingual children showed that speech perception was more predictive of reading and vocabulary in the L1 than L2. While morphological awareness uniquely predicted reading and vocabulary in both languages, phonological awareness played such a role after we controlled for morphological awareness only in the L2, which was alphabetic. L1 speech perception and metalinguistic awareness predicted L2 word reading but not vocabulary, after we controlled for the corresponding L2 variables. Hence, there are both similarities and differences between the 2 languages in how the constructs are related. The differences are attributable to variations in language properties and learning contexts. Implications of the present results for an effective L2 learning program are discussed. Copyright © 2010 American Psychological Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-380
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


Speech Perception
Controlled Vocabulary
age group
Age Groups


Cheung, H., Chung, K. K. H., Wong, S. W. L., McBride-Chang, C., Penney, T. B., & Ho, C. S.-H. (2010). Speech perception, metalinguistic awareness, reading, and vocabulary in Chinese–English bilingual children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(2), 367-380. doi: 10.1037/a0017850


  • Morphological awareness
  • Phonological awareness
  • Vocabulary
  • Bilingual reading
  • Transfer
  • Chinese language
  • English language
  • Speech perception