Cross-linguistic interactions influence reading development in bilinguals: a comparison between early balanced French-Basque and Spanish-Basque bilingual children
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Lallier, M., Acha, J. and Carreiras, M. (2016), Cross-linguistic interactions influence reading development in bilinguals: a comparison between early balanced French-Basque and Spanish-Basque bilingual children. Dev Sci, 19: 76–89. doi:10.1111/desc.12290
This study investigates whether orthographic consistency and transparency of languages have an impact on the development of reading strategies and reading sub-skills (i.e. phonemic awareness and visual attention span) in bilingual children. We evaluated 21 French (opaque)-Basque (transparent) bilingual children and 21 Spanish (transparent)-Basque (transparent) bilingual children at Grade 2, and 16 additional children of each group at Grade 5. All of them were assessed in their common language (i.e. Basque) on tasks measuring word and pseudoword reading, phonemic awareness and visual attention span skills. The Spanish speaking groups showed better Basque pseudoword reading and better phonemic awareness abilities than their French speaking peers, but only in the most difficult conditions of the tasks. However, on the visual attention span task, the French- Basque bilinguals showed the most efficient visual processing strategies to perform the task. Therefore, learning to read in an additional language affected differently Basque literacy skills, depending on whether this additional orthography was opaque (e.g. French) or transparent (e.g. Spanish). Moreover, we showed that the most noteworthy effects of Spanish and French orthographic transparency on Basque performance were related to the size of the phonological and visual grain used to perform the tasks.