A componential approach for bilingual reading and comparative writing system research: The role of phonology in Chinese writing as a test case

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The special circumstances of bilingual and second language literacy learning offer investigators an important additional vantage point from which to better understand the components of reading ability. Cross-writing system comparisons complement this perspective. Comparing writing systems and how children learn to read through the medium of each system provides for tests of a number of hypotheses currently under discussion. One particularly instructive series of tests involves the contrast between alphabetic and nonalphabetic writing systems. This review of the research will examine proposals related to the role of phonology in word identification with a special focus on the morphosyllabic/logographic Chinese orthography. A componential, or modular, approach to the study of reading ability will be evaluated in relation to claims made from different perspectives on the question of the activation of phonological representations in reading. In particular, is the Universal Phonological Principle, proposed by C. Perfetti, compatible with a modular approach to the study of reading ability?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-711
Number of pages29
JournalLanguage Learning
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010



  • Bilingual literacy
  • Chinese
  • Modularity
  • Orthographic knowledge
  • Universal Phonological Principle
  • Writing systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics

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