The Simple View of Reading Made Complex by Morphological Decoding Fluency in Bilingual Fourth-Grade Readers of English

Dongbo Zhang, Sihui Ke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The authors examined the complexity of the simple view of reading, focusing on morphological decoding fluency in fourth-grade readers of English in Singapore. The participants were three groups of students who all learned to become bilingual and biliterate in the English language (EL) and their respective ethnic language in school but differed in the home language they used. The first group was ethnic Chinese students who used English as the dominant home language (Chinese EL1); the other two groups were ethnic Chinese and Malay students whose dominant home language was not English but Chinese (Chinese EL2) and Malay (Malay EL2), respectively. The measures included pseudoword decoding (phonemic decoding), timed decoding of derivational words (morphological decoding fluency), oral vocabulary, and passage comprehension. Path analysis showed that oral vocabulary significantly predicted reading comprehension across all three groups, yet a significant effect of morphological decoding fluency surfaced in the Chinese EL1 and Malay EL2 groups but not the Chinese EL2 group. Multigroup path analysis and commonality analysis further confirmed that morphological decoding played a larger role in the Chinese EL1 and Malay EL2 groups. These findings are discussed in light of the joint influence of target-language experience and cross-linguistic influence on second-language or bilingual reading development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-329
Number of pages19
JournalReading Research Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 International Literacy Association


  • 2-Childhood
  • ANOVAs
  • Bilingualism
  • Cognitive
  • Comprehension
  • Comprehension (General)
  • Correlation
  • Decoding
  • Decoding
  • English as an Additional Language
  • Language learners
  • Morphemic analysis
  • Path Analysis
  • Second Language Reading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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