The present study, like that of Bruck and Genesee (1995), compared bilinguals
(Spanish and English) to monolingual speakers to determine if bilinguals show an
advantage. Like Durgunoglu et al. (1993), this study further asked if beginning
readers' performance on phonological awareness tasks in one language would be indicative
of the level of performance on these same tasks in the present language. The
innovation in this study was that, unlike Durgunoglu et al. (1993) who only tested for
transfer effects in one direction, we tested for transfer effects in both directions
between English and Spanish. The English and Spanish tests were given not only to
bilinguals, but also to monolinguals who were either taught in English or Spanish.
Both language versions were administered to all the children, regardless of language
dominance or knowledge of the "foreign" language. Overall, the purpose
then was to investigate general phonological awareness and its implications for reading
ability and its possible transfer between languages within monolingual and bilingual
Different predictions followed from each of the studies discussed above. First, we
predicted that results could be replicated such that reading ability and performance on
the phoneme awareness tests were related. Second, taking into account Durgunoglu et
al.'s (1993) assertions of language transfer, we predicted a general transfer of phoneme
awareness between languages for bilinguals. Consistent with predictions by Walley
(Bruck and Genesee 1995) of a bilingual advantage, we expected bilinguals to outperform
monolinguals. In addition, based upon Bruck and Genesee's (1995) findings of
instructional influences in grapheme-phoneme associations (and acknowledging that students
had been formally introduced to these concepts by the time that testing began), we
expected that language of instruction would facilitate better performance in that language
when compared to the other.
In order to investigate the relationship between phoneme awareness and reading, to examine
how bilingual versus monolingual language background may affect its development, and to
demonstrate transfer of this ability between Spanish and English, we employed the
Yopp-Singer PST, the Mann PST and their Spanish-language adaptations in this study.
The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (Spanish and English) and the Woodcock Reading Mastery
Tests (English) measured vocabulary and reading development. Teacher judgments of
the reading ability and language background of the students were considered as well.