Bilingualism, writing, and metalinguistic awareness: Oral-literate interactions between first and second languages

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This article reports on an investigation of the development of literacy, bilingualism, and metalinguistic awareness. The particular context of the study (high levels of bilingualism among school-age children) and the particular language contact situation (an indigenous language) offer a vantage point on the interaction between language learning and metalinguistic awareness and take into account the sociolinguistic imbalances that characterize bilingual communities of this type. The subjects who participated in the study were speakers of Spanish and Náhuatl from Central Mexico. Assessments of metalinguistic awareness related to different aspects of the children's consciousness of the languages they spoke or understood were compared to a series of assessments of reading comprehension, writing, and oral narrative in both languages. Findings suggest directions for further research along the following lines: metalinguistic awareness is related to different aspects of literacy development in different ways, the key variables being the degree of decontextualization and expressive versus receptive language tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-561
Number of pages29
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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