Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Gerken, Kathryn

First Committee Member

Richman, Lynn C

Second Committee Member

Ansley, Timothy N

Third Committee Member

Missall, Kristen

Fourth Committee Member

Ehly, Stewart W

Fifth Committee Member

Fielding, Linda G


The primary goal of the current study was to investigate the impact of different first language backgrounds on early Chinese reading development by comparing a group of children who spoke a dialect at home and learned to speak and read Mandarin as a second language as soon as they attended Mandarin immersion programs with their Mandarin-speaking monolingual counterparts. The comparison involved five variables, two of which were measures of reading outcomes, word reading accuracy and vocabulary knowledge, and the other three were measures related to processing spoken languages, including rapid automatized naming, phonological awareness, and morphological awareness.

The study was carried out in two phases. Participants in Phase One consisted of 30 dialect-dominant (DD) and 30 Mandarin-monolingual (MD) children from one kindergarten. Half of them were in their second year (K2), and the other half were in their third year of kindergarten (K3). Participants in Phase Two consisted of 218 dialect-dominant children from the third-year kindergarten to the third grade in one school. The assessments in Phase One were administered from March to April in 2011, and the assessments in Phase Two were administered from May to July in 2011.

The current study added to extant literature by yielding several important findings with an under-represented population in Chinese reading research. First, the strong link between morphological awareness and vocabulary knowledge, which has been documented in previous studies, is now extended to the group of DD children. Second, the current study revealed that in comparison to the MD group the DD group performed significantly poorer on Mandarin morphological construction in K2, indicating an impact of language proficiency in the development of morphological awareness. This impact appeared to affect the DD children's subsequent vocabulary development. Third, the current study showed grade variability in the rapid automatized naming (RAN)-Chinese reading relation and suggested that the component of language proficiency might affect children's rapid naming speed and moderate the relation of RAN to reading outcomes. Limitations of the current study and directions for future research are presented.


Chinese reading development, Dialect-speaking, Language proficiency, Morphological processing, Phonological processing, Rapid automatized naming


ix, 103 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 96-103).


Copyright 2013 Ling-Yan Yang