Syntactic skills in sentence reading among Chinese elementary school children

Reading and Writing (Impact Factor: 1.44). 03/2011; 25(3):679-699. DOI: 10.1007/s11145-010-9293-4


The present study examined the role of syntactic skills for reading comprehension in Chinese. Two hundred and seventy-two
Chinese children were tested on their phonological processing, orthographic, morphological, syntactic, and literacy skills
at Grades 1 and 2. Hierarchical multiple regression results showed that syntactic skills, in terms of word order, connective
usage, and knowledge of morphosyntactic structure (measured by an oral cloze task) in Grade 1, significantly predicted sentence
reading comprehension in Grade 2 after controlling for the children’s age, IQ, and word level reading-related cognitive skills
in Grade 1, and word reading in Grade 2. As in alphabetic languages, syntactic skills are essential for reading comprehension
in Chinese. The unique roles of individual syntactic skills for understanding sentences in Chinese are discussed.

KeywordsReading comprehension–Chinese–Syntactic skills

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    • "). This is a widely used standardized test in Chinese literacy research to measure students' performance in Chinese word reading (e.g., Cheung et al., 2010 ; Chik et al., 2012 ; T. Li, McBride- Chang, Wong, & Shu, 2012 ; Yeung et al., 2011 , 2013 ) with local norms. Its norming procedure was based on a representative sample of typically developing students in Hong Kong. "
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    ABSTRACT: The present study examined the roles of different dimensions of syntactic skills in predicting reading comprehension within and across two languages with contrasting structural properties: Chinese and English. A total of 413 young Cantonese-English bilingual students in Hong Kong (202 first graders and 211 third graders) were tested on word order skill, morphosyntactic skill, and reading comprehension in both L1 and L2. Hierarchical regressions showed that after partialing out the effects of age, nonverbal intelligence, working memory, oral vocabulary, and word reading, word order skill was more predictive of reading comprehension in both L1 and L2 in grade 1 than morphosyntactic skill. In grade 3, morphosyntactic skill emerged to be an equally and even a more important skill than word order skill in L1 and L2 reading, respectively. In both age cohorts, L1 syntactic skills cross- linguistically predicted L2 reading comprehension even when age, oral language, and general cognitive skills were statistically controlled. Statistical equation modeling mediation analyses revealed that this syntactic transfer from L1 to L2 was mediated by L2 syntactic skills but not L1 reading comprehension. When we further investigated the transfer of individual syntactic skills, word order skill appeared to be more transferable than morphosyntactic skill early in grade 1, in support of the transfer facilitation model. The findings suggest that young bilingual students may draw on the correspondence between L1 and L2 syntax to support their L2 learning, hence informing educators of issues and strategies that they should take note of in designing an effective L2 learning program.
    Reading Research Quarterly 02/2015; 50(3). DOI:10.1002/rrq.101 · 2.70 Impact Factor
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    • "But this is more of a sentence completion task rather than a direct test of syntactic processing. Chik et al. (2012) included several measures of syntactic processing in a study of reading comprehension in Grades 1 and 2 Chinese children. In a hierarchical multiple regression equation, age, IQ and Chinese word reading accounted for 64% of the individual variation while composite syntactic skills added a significant 4% of the variation. "
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    ABSTRACT: The goal of the present study was to test opposing views about 4 issues concerning predictors of individual differences in Chinese written composition: (a) whether morphological awareness, syntactic processing, and working memory represent distinct and measureable constructs in Chinese or are just manifestations of general language ability; (b) whether they are important predictors of Chinese written composition and, if so, the relative magnitudes and independence of their predictive relations; (c) whether observed predictive relations are mediated by text comprehension; and (d) whether these relations vary or are developmentally invariant across 3 years of writing development. Based on analyses of the performance of students in Grades 4 (n ! 246), 5 (n ! 242), and 6 (n ! 261), the results supported morphological awareness, syntactic processing, and working memory as distinct yet correlated abilities that made independent contributions to predicting Chinese written composition, with working memory as the strongest predictor. However, predictive relations were mediated by text comprehension. The final model accounted for approximately 75% of the variance in Chinese written composition. The results were largely developmentally invariant across the 3 grades from which participants were drawn.
    Journal of Educational Psychology 03/2014; 106(3). DOI:10.1037/a0035984 · 3.52 Impact Factor
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    • "It is hoped that this task can assess the translation of ideas in a more direct way than the oral vocabulary knowledge measure used in most previous studies. Syntactic skills were assessed by a word order knowledge task (Chik et al., 2011) that was found to predict Chinese text reading. In addition to these measures, measures of orthographic awareness and morphological awareness, significant predictors of writing at word level (i.e., word spelling) in Chinese (Chan et al., 2006; Tong et al., 2009; Yeung et al., 2011b), were included for conceptualizing Chinese writing development at both word and text levels. "
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    ABSTRACT: The present study is a four-year longitudinal study examining the important predictors of writing of 340 Chinese children in elementary grades. Children's transcription skills (handwriting skills and spelling), and syntactic skills in grade 1 were significant predictors of text writing in grade 1-4 while ideation in grade 1 only contributed to text writing in grade 2. Stroke order knowledge was shown as an important handwriting skill in Chinese reflecting the characteristics of the Chinese orthography. A model of Chinese writing in early elementary grades was proposed. In the model, orthographic knowledge, morphological awareness and handwriting skills are proposed to contribute to spelling which is correlated with text writing. Handwriting skills, ideation, and syntactic skills were found to contribute to text writing. Path analysis results suggest that the longitudinal relationship between spelling and text writing is bidirectional.
    Reading and Writing 08/2013; 26(7):1195-1221. DOI:10.1007/s11145-012-9411-6 · 1.44 Impact Factor
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