Cross-linguistic transfer of morphological awareness between Chinese and English

Sihui Ke, Feng Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Substantial biliteracy research on two alphabetic languages has indicated that, once it is fostered in the first language (L1) literacy experience, morphological awareness can transfer and facilitate second language (L2) reading. It is still unclear, however, whether L1 metalinguistic awareness transfers in the same manner across typologically different languages, and to what extent and under what conditions transfer occurs. This paper synthesises eight studies on the transfer of morphological awareness between Chinese and English. Three questions guided this research: (1) how was morphological awareness defined and measured in prior work; (2) what are the patterns of transfer between the two languages; and (3) what are the factors that affect such transfer effects? The findings have shown a lack of consistency in measuring morphological awareness in existing studies; there were small-to-moderate correlations between L1 and L2 morphological awareness in Chinese–English bilingual reading development; and L2 exposure and task demands were shown to have notable impacts on the cross-linguistic transfer. It is suggested that much needs to be done to expand our understanding of how morphological awareness functions as a sharable resource in bilingual reading development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-380
Number of pages26
JournalLanguage Awareness
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • biliteracy
  • cross-linguistic
  • morphological awareness
  • second language reading
  • transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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