Use of orthographic knowledge in reading by Chinese-English bi-scriptal children

Him CHEUNG, Miranda CHAN, Karen CHONG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


We tested Chinese-English bi-scriptal fourth-graders on reading aloud and comprehension in Chinese and English and their understanding of some structural principles underlying Chinese orthography. These principles concern phonological and semantic representation in written Chinese. Regressions showed that knowledge about phonological representation predicted reading aloud in both Chinese and English. Understanding of semantic representation predicted reading comprehension only in Chinese. To explain these findings, we argue that although young readers find it natural to interpret orthography as representation of sound in either script, looking for broad meaning cues in orthography is more spontaneous in Chinese than English reading. The present findings support the notion that children generally attempt to extract as much phonological and semantic information as possible directly from print in reading, although in many situations, such information provides only very rough cuing on word pronunciation and meaning. Copyright © 2007 Language Learning Research Club, University of Michigan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-505
JournalLanguage Learning
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007


Cheung, H., Chan, M., & Chong, K. (2007). Use of orthographic knowledge in reading by Chinese-English bi-scriptal children. Language Learning, 57(3), 469-505. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9922.2007.00423.x


  • Bi-scriptal reading
  • Orthographic processing
  • Reading Chinese
  • Phonological representation
  • Semantic representation
  • Chinese characters
  • Reading comprehension
  • Novel object labeling


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