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Author
Van Thanh Le
Van Le first got involved in research through the Psychology Honors Program. This project attracted her because it gave her the opportunity to interact with children, whose eagerness to participate made this project a very "personal experience." Van hopes to pursue a Ph.D., focusing on computer languages that are similar to natural languages. She advises other students to do their homework and find a professor who has expertise and resources in the student's field of interest.
Key Terms:
¨ Phoneme
¨ Grapheme
¨ Mixed Factorial Design
¨ Metalinguistic
¨ Bilingualism
¨ Mann Phoneme Segmentation Task (PST)
¨ Yopp-Singer Phoneme Segmentation Test (PST)
Cross-Language Transfer of
Phonemic Awareness in
Spanish and English Bilinguals
Phoneme awareness, the ability to count or otherwise manipulate consonants and vowels, has been documented as predictive of reading ability. The study's concern with phoneme awareness was threefold: 1) to confirm its relatedness to reading ability, 2) to compare its extent among monolinguals and bilinguals, and 3) to examine its transfer between languages. The participants were 52 first graders who were either English or Spanish monolingual or Spanish-English bilingual. As predicted, there was an association between phoneme awareness and English reading ability. This also held true for both English and Spanish tests of phoneme awareness. Contrary to the predictions, there was no overall advantage of either bilingualism or monolingualism. However, there was consistent evidence of cross-language transfer. While English speakers did better on English versions, and Spanish speakers on Spanish versions, a correlation was also found between performance between the two languages.
Van Le's research concerns one of the most essential determinants of early reading skill. That skill, referred to as "phoneme awareness" allows children to realize that spoken words can be broken down into the consonant- and vowel-sized units that the letters of the alphabet "stand for." Van made two important discoveries about phoneme awareness: 1) that Spanish-speaking children's awareness of phonemes in Spanish words can promote their awareness of phonemes in English words, and 2) that bilingualism has neither a positive nor a negative impact on the development of phoneme awareness. It was a pleasure to see her research project develop from office hour discussions about the literature to a mature and polished contribution to the field.
 
~ Virginia Mann
School of Social Sciences
Virginia Mann
Van Thanh Le ~
Psychology
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The UCI Undergraduate Research Journal
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