Transfer facilitation effects of morphological awareness on multicharacter word reading in Chinese as a foreign language

Sihui Echo Ke, Keiko Koda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This study examined the transfer facilitation effects from English morphological awareness on Chinese multicharacter word reading in English-speaking adult learners of Chinese as a foreign language (CFL). Fifty English-speaking American university CFL learners participated in our study who measured their English morphological awareness, Chinese morphological awareness, Chinese linguistic knowledge, Chinese word reading, and working memory. There were three major findings: (1) with approximately three years of formal Chinese instruction and limited Chinese print input, English-speaking adult learners of Chinese developed sensitivity to the internal morphological structure of multicharacter words in Chinese. (2) English morphological awareness did not directly contribute to Chinese bimorphemic three-character pseudoword reading yet contributed indirectly via the joint serial mediation by Chinese morphological awareness and Chinese monomorphemic two-character real word reading. (3) There was no additional influence from Chinese linguistic knowledge on Chinese word reading. And, English morphological awareness explained about 3.64% of the variance in second language Chinese bimorphemic three-character pseudoword reading. Discussion is provided regarding the transfer facilitation mechanism through which first language morphological awareness contributes to adult second language reading acquisition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1263-1286
Number of pages24
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supplementary material. To view supplementary material for this article, please visit 1017/S014271642100031X Acknowledgements. We would like to extend our gratitude to all those people who have made this research project possible. They are Dr. G. Richard Tucker, Dr. Charles A. Perfetti, Dr. Susan Polansky, Dr. Yueming Yu, Dr. Feng Xiao, Dr. Yan Liu, Dr. Wenwen Zhu, Dr. Yi Xu, Ms. Liling Huang, and Dr. Lin Zhu. This research has been supported by the CMU Modern Languages Dietrich College Dissertation Completion Fellowship, and the Language Learning Dissertation Grant. We are also grateful for the comments of Dr. Yuuko Uchikoshi, Dr. Stefka H. Marinova-Todd, and the anonymous reviewers who have helped us improve this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved.


  • adult second language reading
  • Chinese
  • Keywords: transfer
  • morphological awareness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Psychology (all)


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