Vocabulary and reading comprehension: Examining the role of vocabulary depth and cross-language transfer
- Project Leader
- Dr YEUNG, Siu Sze (Department of Psychology)
- There is limited research on the transfer of vocabulary to reading comprehension across languages. In this study, we will investigate the cross-language transfer of vocabulary to reading comprehension among Chinese ESL students.
- General Research Fund
In view of the complex lexicon, vocabulary knowledge can be further distinguished into vocabulary breadth and depth. It is easy to define vocabulary breadth, that is the size of one’s vocabulary. On the contrary, there are many ways to conceptualize vocabulary depth. Therefore, in this study, the construct of vocabulary depth and its differentiation from vocabulary breadth is examined among Chinese ESL students in both Chinese and English.
It has been well-established that vocabulary plays an important role in reading comprehension. Past studies have demonstrated that both initial level and growth of vocabulary is uniquely associated with reading comprehension among first language (L1) and second language (L2) learners. In this field of research, the role of vocabulary depth is not well understood among L2 learners. Therefore, the aim of this study is to examine the role of vocabulary depth beyond vocabulary breadth in reading comprehension.
It is widely recognized that L1 and L2 skills are related. Numerous studies have addressed the issue of cross-language transfer. There is limited research on the transfer of vocabulary to reading comprehension across languages. In this study, we will investigate the cross-language transfer of vocabulary to reading comprehension among Chinese ESL students.
In this longitudinal study, 300 Hong Kong primary school students in P3 (age 8) will be followed for two years. A battery of tests for vocabulary and word recognition in L1 (Chinese) and L2 (English) will be administered at four time points with a 6-month period between each successive time point. Reading comprehension measures as outcome variables will be administered at T1, T4 and 6 months after T4. The measurement model of vocabulary will be tested. Latent growth modeling will be performed to examine the growth of L1 and L2 vocabulary breadth, vocabulary depth and word recognition. The initial level of these skills and their growth will be used to predict reading comprehension outcomes. Specifically, we are interested in examining whether the latent variable of initial level and growth in vocabulary depth (as determined by the results from the measurement model) will contribute uniquely to reading comprehension when initial level and growth of vocabulary breadth and word recognition are statistically controlled. We would also examine the cross-language association between L1 and L2. Theoretically, this study will enable the examination of the longitudinal relationships between vocabulary and reading comprehension among Chinese ESL children from a dynamic developmental perspective. Practically, the findings will inform educators and professionals on providing educational support to Chinese ESL children in beginning reading development.