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Language Learning

ISSN 0023-8333

Reading and Language Learning: Crosslinguistic Constraints on Second Language Reading Development
Keiko Koda
Carnegie Mellon University

The ultimate goal of reading is to construct text meaning based on visually encoded information. Essentially, it entails converting print into language and then to the message intended by the author. It is hardly accidental, therefore, that, in all languages, reading builds on oral language competence and that learning to read uniformly requires making links between a language and its writing system. As a system of communication, moreover, languages vary in their meaning-making conventions and methods of signaling those conventions. Writing systems also vary in what they encode and how they end it. It is thus essential to clarify how reading subskillsand their developmentare altered by the properties of a particular language and its writing system. A small but growing body of evidence suggests that systematic variations do exist in literacy learning and processing in diverse languages. These variations have critical implications for theories of second language (L2) reading because, unlike rst language (L1) reading, it involves two languages. The dual-language involvement implies continual interactions between the two languages as well as incessant adjustments in accommodating the disparate demands each language imposes. For this reason, L2 reading is crosslinguistic and, thus, inherently more complex than L1 reading. To deal with these complexities, L2 reading research must incorporate three basic facts about reading development in both theory formation and empirical validation: (a) reading is a complex, multifaceted construct, comprising a number of subskills; (b) the acquisition of each subskill necessitates distinct linguistic knowledge; and

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Keiko Koda, Department of Modern Languages, Carnegie Mellon University, 160 Baker Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Internet: kkoda@andrew.cmu.edu

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(c) in L2 reading, subskills development involves two languages. Consequently, the primary objective of this article is to clarifythrough a systematic synthesis of research in reading and L2 acquisitionthe specic ways in which L2 reading is constrained by language-specic demands both within and across languages. The synthesis opens with a discussion of how diverse linguistic knowledge contributes to the development of reading subskills. Reading and linguistic knowledge are both complex constructs, so their functional connections cannot be fully understood unless their components are isolated and the functions of each are clearly identied. Therefore, reading needs to be dissected into its major operations, and the linguistic requisites for each can then be examined. The subsequent section briey describes theories explaining the cognitive mechanisms through which linguistic knowledge and reading skills are acquired. In these theories, learningbe it of language or readingis viewed as the process of detecting, abstracting, and internalizing structural regularities implicit in input. As such, input and experience are regarded as the key determinants of learning outcomesthat is, what is learned and how well it is learned. It is essential, therefore, that the precise nature of experience associated with a particular instance of learning be claried. The concept of reading universals is critical in this regard because it species the requisites for learning to read, imposed on all learners, in all languages, and in so doing, it sets the limits on possible variations in learning-to-read experiences across languages. Therefore, systematic comparisons of how the requisite tasks are accomplished in diverse languages make it possible to identify the language-specic demands imposed by the properties of a particular language and its writing system. Accurate descriptions of such demands and their resulting variations will permit conceptual explorations of how L2 reading development is constrained by the two languages involved. Metalinguistic awareness refers to the ability to identify, analyze, and manipulate language forms. As such, it relates directly and centrally to the core task of learning to read (i.e., making links between a language and its writing system). Specically, the signicance of metalinguistic awareness lies in its capacity for enabling learners to segment words into their phonological and morphological constituents, helping them deduce how spoken language elements are mapped onto the graphic symbols that represent them. Finally, within the experience-based view of learning, the mechanism of transfer is explained. Such elucidation is useful because it claries how reading subskills, developed in one language, are incorporated in learning to read in another language. Despite the general acceptance of transfer in L2 learning,
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there is little consensus as to what constitutes transfer and how it transpires. In the absence of a well-articulated theory, many critical issues of transfer remain unexplored. Within the proposed view of transfer, empirical studies investigating the impacts of literacy experiences in both L1 and L2 are examined and their collective implications discussed. Linguistic Knowledge in Reading Development Traditionally, two diametrically opposing views of reading have dominated reading research: One regards reading as an indivisible whole; and the other regards it as a constellation of distinct components. Goodman (1967, 1969), as a proponent of the holistic view of reading, contended that learning to read is a natural process during the course of human development. Because language is learned as a whole through communication, and communicative use of language is intrinsic in reading, reading is learned as a whole and, therefore, should be treated as a whole. In contrast, the componential view postulates that reading is a constellation of distinct capabilities, which can be isolated for inspection either individually or in tandem. Because individual differences exist in virtually all facets of reading competence, it is essential to determine which particular variations are centrally related to comprehension performance. Of the two, the componential view offers denite advantages because reading difculties might be attributable to a deciency in a single skill or to a combination of multiple deciencies. A clear grasp of the multilayered relationships among reading subskills is necessary to identify the sources of reading difculties. This clarication, moreover, is critical in examining the specic contributions of linguistic knowledge to reading acquisition. Because diverse subskills necessitate distinct linguistic knowledge, uncovering their functional interconnections is virtually impossible unless the constructs respective facets are isolated and their functions clearly understood. Components of Reading The component skills approach, proposed by Carr and Levy (1990), seeks to identify the cognitive skills underlying reading and then to compare their relative contributions to overall reading performance. Several fundamental suppositions underlie this approach (Carr, Brown, Vavrus, & Evans, 1990). Reading, for example, is the product of a complex information-processing system, involving a constellation of closely related mental operations. Each operation is theoretically distinct and empirically separable, and each serves an identiable function. The component skills jointly facilitate perception, comprehension, and memory
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of visually coded language. Thus, the primary goal of the approach is to illuminate the full scope of cognitive skills underlying reading and, in so doing, to examine their functional and developmental interconnections. On the assumption that successful comprehension is achieved through the integrative interaction of extracted text information and a readers prior knowledge, in this synthesis, reading is considered to involve three major components: (a) decoding (extracting linguistic information directly from print); (b) text-information building (integrating the extracted information into phrases, sentences, and paragraphs); and (c) reader-model construction (synthesizing the amalgamated text information with prior knowledge). Because diverse facets of linguistic knowledge are differentially involved in these operations, their contributions are discussed separately for each operation. Linguistic Knowledge in Decoding Orthographic Knowledge Fluent reading requires rapid and effortless access to word meanings. It might seem that good readers recognize many words instantly and access their meanings and sounds holistically without processing individual letters. In actuality, however, word recognition studies have repeatedly shown that skilled English readers engage in analyzing and manipulating word-internal elements, such as letters and letter clusters (e.g., Ehri, 1998; Shankweiler & Liberman, 1972). Competent readers are also more adept at pronouncing both individual letters and nonsense letter-strings (e.g., Hogaboam & Perfetti, 1978; Siegel & Ryan, 1988; Wagner, Torgesen, & Rashotte, 1994). In essence, seamless word recognition performance is not attributable to whole-word retrievals but, rather, to internalized knowledge of ones writing systemsound-symbol relationships, in particular (e.g., Adams, 1990; Ehri, 1994, 1998; Seidenberg & McClelland, 1989). Orthographic knowledge thus underlies the effortless extraction of phonological and morphological information from a printed word. Moreover, once acquired, orthographic knowledge becomes a powerful mnemonic device that bonds the written forms of specic words to their pronunciation in memory (Ehri, 1998, p. 15). Such a device is of vital importance particularly in phonologically deep orthographies wherein sounds and symbols do not form regular, reliable relationships. Phonological Knowledge Phonological decoding is the processes involved in accessing, storing, and manipulating phonological information (Torgesen & Burgess, 1998). Given that reading builds on spoken language competence, decoding efciency is crucial, particularly in the initial stages of learning to read, because it enables
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learners to access the stored linguistic knowledge accumulated through oral communication prior to formal literacy instruction. Studies have consistently showed that poor readers uniformly are less efcient in phonological processing (Stanovich, 2000) and that their deciencies tend to be domain-specic that is, weak phonological skills are neither related nor attributable to factors in other domains (Share & Stanovich, 1995). Phonological information extraction requires segmenting spoken words into their phonological constituents, so the acquisition of this skill is substantially facilitated by childrens understanding of the patterns of speech sounds. In fact, phonological decits are a common attribute of weak readers in typologically diverse languages, including Arabic (Abu-Rabia, 1995), Portuguese (Da Fontoura & Siegel, 1995), Chinese (So & Siegel, 1997; Zhang & Perfetti, 1993), and Japanese (Kuhara-Kojima, Hatano, Saito, & Haebara, 1996). Vocabulary Knowledge Successful comprehension is strongly related to knowledge of individual word meanings. Consistently high correlations between vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension have been reported in a number of studies (e.g., Alderson & Urquhart, 1985; Anderson & Freebody, 1983; Carroll, 1971; Davis, 1968; Koda, 1988; Qian, 1998). The dominant interpretation of this relationship is that vocabulary knowledge enables reading comprehension. The view is endorsed by the notion of vocabulary threshold (i.e., the boundary between having and not having sufcient knowledge for text comprehension). Studies testing such thresholds demonstrate that for comprehension to occur during unassisted reading, the majority of text words (roughly 98%) must be known (Carver, 1994, 2000; Hu & Nation, 2000). More direct support comes from instructional studies, which, despite their diverse approaches, have consistently showed that teaching how to learn words generates gains in reading comprehension (Beck, McKeown, & Omanson, 1987; National Reading Panel, 2000; Stahl & Fairbanks, 1986). There are, however, other interpretations of the close connection between vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension (Koda, 2005). One such interpretation is that the two are functionally interdependent, mutually enhancing their respective developments. As an illustration, native-English-speaking children not only encounter vast numbers of printed words (roughly 88,000 distinct word families) during their school years but also learn many of them (Nagy & Anderson, 1984). Nagy, Herman, and Anderson (1985) contended incidental learning from context during free reading is the major mode of vocabulary acquisition during the school years, and the volume of experience with written
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language, interacting with reading comprehension ability, is the major determinant of vocabulary growth (1985, p. 234). Because incidental word learning requires inferring word meanings based on local text information, its success depends on the ability to build local text meaning. Thus, the expansion of vocabulary knowledge during the school years and beyond is greatly assisted by reading ability. Morphological Knowledge Morphemes are the smallest meaning-bearing unit, serving as the constituents of words. According to Nagy and Anderson (1984), roughly 60% of the new words children encounter in printed school material are structurally transparent, morphologically complex words, such as re-ght-er and un-lady-like. This implies that the meaning of at least half of the new words could be deduced by analyzing a words morphological constituents. Morphological analysis thus bolsters the capacity for identifying familiar components in an unfamiliar word, thereby allowing learners to extract partial information from familiar parts. Without such competence, lexical inferencing would be seriously hampered, making word learning exceedingly challenging (Ku & Anderson, 2003; Verhoeven & Carlisle, 2006). Experimental studies have consistently suggested that: skilled readers are adept at morphological analysis and decomposition (e.g., Chilant & Caramazza, 1995; Fowler & Liberman, 1995; Stolz & Feldman, 1995; Taft, 1991; Taft & Zhu, 1995); high-frequency afxes greatly facilitate recognition of multimorphemic, low-frequency, words (e.g., Katz, Rexer, & Lukatela, 1991; Kelliher & Henderson, 1990); and lexical decision-making is greatly facilitated when target words are preceded by presentation of their morphological relatives (e.g., Feldman & Bentin, 1994; Fowler, Napps, & Feldman, 1985). Similar results are available in studies involving young learners, showing that poor readers commit far more errors of afx omissions in their writing and speaking (e.g., Duques, 1989; Rubin, 1991) and that the efcient use of morphological information during sentence processing distinguishes competent and less competent high school readers (e.g., Tyler & Nagy, 1989, 1990). These ndings conrm readers consistent engagement in morphological analysis/decomposition during lexical processing, as well as the important role that morphological knowledge plays in the extraction and integration of information in print. Linguistic Knowledge in Text-Information Building Syntactic Knowledge Sentence comprehension entails incremental integration of lexical information in such a way that an integrated chunk reects the overall meaning of larger
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linguistic units, such as phrases and clauses. The integration process, often referred to as syntactic parsing, involves two major operations: phrase construction through lexical-information integration, and case assignments to the constructed phrases. To illustrate, the sentence Nancy tapped the man with the cane allows two interpretations regarding the cane holder. If the phrase with the cane is taken as a modier of the verb tapped, Nancy is the cane holder. If, on the other hand, the phrase is interpreted to modify the man, the cane should be in his hand. Hence, decisions regarding phrase attachment have major semantic consequences, and syntactic knowledge is integral to this process. Despite the obvious signicance of syntactic parsing, research has mainly focused on the mechanisms and principles governing parser behaviors rather than individual differences in syntactic processing or their impacts on comprehension. Heavily inuenced by linguistic theories emphasizing modular language organization, parsing research operates under the following premises: (a) Knowledge of syntactic structures develops according to its own biological clock; (b) because syntactic knowledge is prewired, syntactic complexity has no impact on its acquisition; and (c) much of the primary linguistic system already has been acquired before formal literacy instruction begins. Empirical studies, in fact, demonstrate that children as young as three can comprehend and reconstruct complex structures, such as restrictive relative clauses and subjectverb inversion in yes-no questions (e.g., Crain & Nakayama, 1987; Hamburger & Crain, 1982). Little variance is thus presumed in syntactic knowledge among children with normal speech development. In this view, therefore, reading problems are not attributed to deciency in syntactic knowledge among normally achieving children (Crain & Shankweiler, 1988). Reecting this assumption, L1 reading research has given far less attention to syntactic knowledge than to other linguistic domains. In point of fact, this knowledge was not even included as a focal topic for intensive analysis of the National Reading Panel (2000). In short, syntactic knowledge is essential for sentence comprehension, but it appears to play a minor role in explaining comprehension variance in L1 reading because this knowledge does not vary greatly among normally achieving L1 readers. Obviously, this is not true with L2 readers. Syntactic parsing varies from one language to another, so L2 learners must learn how phrases are constructed and cases are assigned to the constructed phrases in a new language. Moreover, there is little consensus regarding the extent to which the acquisition of syntactic knowledge among L2 learners is assisted by innate linguistic capacity (Gass & Schacter, 1989). Hence, it seems legitimate to assume that substantial variance exists in syntactic knowledge among L2 learners. It has been reported, in
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fact, that syntactic knowledge signicantly contributes to reading performance among school-age L2 learners (e.g., Nagy, McClure, & Mir, 1997; Verhoeven, 1990). Knowledge of Discourse Markers To build coherent text representations, locally assembled information must be integrated across sentences. Several distinct cohesive devices are used to achieve text coherence. Connectives, for example, assist coherence building by linking information in two adjacent sentences. Their main function is to express the underlying semantic relation between the two sentences. Coreference is another system used for building text coherence. For example, linguistic elements, such as pronouns, can be interpreted only through references to other parts of a text. Because coreference is functionally dependent on linguistic elements presented in other parts of text, it prompts readers to look elsewhere for interpretation. Although knowledge of these and other discourse markers facilitates text comprehension, it should be noted that their acquisition and use are heavily dependent on developmental constraints and substantial text processing experience. A considerable number of studies, with both adults and children, have investigated individual differences in coherence building and their relation to text comprehension. Their results suggest that knowledge of coherence devices differs considerably among native-English-speaking children (e.g., Garner et al., 1986), that it is developmental in nature (e.g., Garner et al; Olhausen & Roller, 1988), that efforts to increase the structural salience of a text generally facilitates comprehension (e.g., Anderson & Davison, 1988; Beck & Dole, 1992), and that explicit training in text coherence awareness frequently improves text comprehension and memory (e.g., Pearson & Fielding, 1991). Text-Structure Knowledge A texts surface structure offers a variety of reliable clues signaling coherence relations among text elements. Signicant elements often are placed in prominent text locations to highlight their relative weight, and they are connected with other text segments in detectable ways (Goldman & Rakestraw, 2000). In English expositions, for example, main ideas tend to appear at the beginning of a segment, and the nal element typically summarizes the text content, leading to the resulting conclusions. Knowledge of these and other organizational cues can provide substantial facilitation in identifying, reinforcing, and retaining a texts main points. Explicit demonstrations of text organization generally improve text comprehension (e.g., Baumann & Bergeron, 1993; Buss, Ratliff, & Irion, 1985).
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It is important to note, however, that structural organization varies widely across text genres. Moreover, a clear understanding of such genre-specic structural properties necessitates broad experience with diverse text types. Text structure studies repeatedly show that awareness of text structures correlates with amount of schooling (e.g., Danner, 1976; Garner et al., 1986) and that explicit text-structure training improves text comprehension (e.g., Meyer, Brandt, & Bluth, 1980; National Reading Panel, 2000). These ndings suggest that although knowledge of text-structure enhances text-information building, its acquisition occurs only through substantial reading experience, and formal training can expedite the process by directing attention to specic text features. Linguistic Knowledge in Reader-Model Building A schema is an abstract knowledge structure (Anderson & Pearson, 1984). It consists of generalized information abstracted from a variety of instances and denotes the relationships among their component elements. Such structured understanding provides conceptual scaffolding for organizing and interpreting newly encountered experiences. In the strong version of schema theory, schemata are regarded as the element responsible for suppressing the activation of irrelevant information, predisposing a reader to interpret input in certain xed ways. The theory thus explains that variations in text interpretation, among readers with diverse real-life experiences and their consequential knowledge of the world, are attributable to this sort of top-down conceptualization. Hence, the theorys core contention is that background knowledge not only affects the process of local meaning construction but also alters the resulting global text representation. Such strong top-down explanations, however, are not universally supported (Kintsch, 1994, 1998). In his Construction-Integration model, for example, Kintsch (1998) posited that knowledge activation is an uncontrolled, bottomup process, determined only by the strength of the associations between items in long-term memory and the text (1994, p. 733). The model thus renounces the possibility that cognitive structures, such as schemata, override explicit text information. Kintsch, moreover, contended that irrelevant information in memory is indeed activated by text input during propositional analysis but quickly deactivated when it fails to satisfy the constraints (e.g., syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic constraints) imposed by the remainder of the text. Kintschs model, consequently, offers a different explanation of why less skilled readers are more prone to incomplete understanding and misinterpretation; namely their local-meaning construction skills are sufciently strong to create necessary constraints, thus
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permitting irrelevant information to remain active during the integration process. Obviously, reader-model construction operates on locally assembled text segments; therefore, global text comprehension is severely impaired by inaccurate and/or incomplete local text information. Thus, even though reader-model building is mostly conceptual, involving the least amount of linguistic processing, it still is affectedindirectly but seriouslyby linguistic knowledge. To summarize, reading entails a number of component operations, each necessitating distinct linguistic knowledge. To understand crosslinguistic variations in literacy learning and processing, it is essential to clarify precisely how the acquisition of each subskill is constrained by the demands imposed by the specic properties of a particular language. Mechanisms of Learning Psycholinguistic theories hold that linguistic knowledge emerges from abstracting regularities implicit in input. In Functionalist approaches, for example language is regarded as a set of relationships between forms and functions (Van Valin, 1991), and language learning is viewed as the process of internalizing these relationships (MacWhinney & Bates, 1989). Thus, their central claim is that language acquisition is driven by communicative functions of language and achieved through cumulative use of language in communication. By relating learning outcomes to the functional properties of language, this view explains why systematic variations occur in the internalized relationships both across learners and across languages. The Functionalist view alone, however, cannot adequately explain how recurrence of corresponding forms and functions in input is detected, abstracted, and internalized. In order to clarify how form-function relationships are learned and assimilated, an additional theory is necessary. Connectionism is one such theory, offering plausible explanations of how form-function relationships emerge. Its main contention is that the internalization of such relationships can occur through cumulative experience of mapping between corresponding forms and functions. The more frequently particular patterns of form-function mappings are experienced, the stronger the associative linkages holding the corresponding elements together. The theory thus describes learning as a gradual transition from deliberate efforts to automatic execution, and its outcome as a dynamic, ever-changing state, rather than a static entity. Consequently, the internalization of a particular form-function relationship can be recognized as such when its mapping becomes automatedthat is, nondeliberate, nonvolitional activation initiated through input (Logan, 1988).
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It should be noted, moreover, that the theory makes no distinction between language learning and other domains of learning, or between knowledge acquisition and skills development. Thus, the theory is capable of explaining how reading skills emerge from input exposure and experience. Within the Connectionist premises, Seidenberg and McClelland (1989) explained how orthographic knowledge develops in native English speakers. They dene orthographic knowledge as an elaborate matrix of correlations among letter patterns, phonemes, syllables, and morphemes (p. 525), contending that its acquisition involves the formation of interletter associations through cumulative exposure to visual word input. The more frequently a particular letter sequence is experienced, the stronger the associations among the letters in the sequence. For example, when the letter t appears at the initial position in a word, the letter most likely to be activated is h, simply because the probability that t will be followed by h is 50 times higher than that for any other letter (Adams, 1990). Ultimately, it is the connection strength of this sort that supports speedy effortless mappings among graphemes, phonemes, and morphemes during decoding. The input-driven, experience-based account holds that learning is probabilistic in that its outcomes can be explained primarily through statistical probabilities, thereby underscoring the role of input in such probabilistic learning. According to Ellis (2002), rules of language, at all levels of analysis, are structural regularities that emerge from learners lifetime analysis of the distributional characteristics of the language input (p. 144). Moreover, such analysis is greatly facilitated by regularities in one-to-one correspondences between the co-occurring elements. Regularity effects in literacy learning and processing are well established. For example, regularly-spelled words (e.g., hint) are pronounced faster and more accurately than irregularly-spelled words (e.g., pint). Similarly, children learning to read in highly regular orthographies (e.g., Spanish, Serbo-Croatian, Turkish, Italian) are more adept at reading and spelling words than age-matched children learning to read in less regular orthographies (e.g., Ellis & Hopper, 2001; Goswami, Gombert, & de Berrera, 1998; Oney & Durgunoglu, 1997). In sum, the input-driven theory posits that language learning and processing are closely aligned with input exposure and experience and therefore, their outcomes are largely determined by the amount of experience as well as the salient properties of input. Within this theory, reading acquisition can be dened as the process of internalizing particular patterns of mappings involving language elements and graphic symbols. This being the case, reading development should be heavily constrained by both what is to be mapped (universal
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mapping requirements) and how it is mapped (language-specic mapping requirements). These constraints are described more fully in the subsequent sections.

Universal and Language-Specic Constraints on Reading Development Reading Universals According to the universal grammar of reading proposed by Perfetti and colleagues (Perfetti, 2003, Perfetti & Liu, 2005, Perfetti & Dunlap, in press), reading is the dynamic pursuit embedded in two interrelated systems: a language and the writing system that encodes the language. Inevitably, reading acquisition requires a linkage between the two systems. Therefore, in learning to read, children, in all languages, must rst recognize which language elements are directly encoded in the writing system (the general mapping principle) and then deduce how they are encoded (the mapping details). Although the linking requirement is universally imposed, how it is accomplished varies across languages. As an illustration, in learning the general mapping principle, children learning to read English must understand that each letter represents a distinct soundeither a consonant or a vowel (the alphabetic principle)and then gradually work out the details of sound-symbol correspondences through print decoding and encoding experience. Although the same realization (the alphabetic principle) is also required of children learning to read Korean, they must also realize that individual symbols must be packed into syllable blocks and then learn the specic ways in which syllable blocks are formed. In contrast, children learning to read Chinese must rst recognize that each symbol (character) corresponds with the meaning and the sound of one whole morpheme (the general mapping principle) and, subsequently, learn how single-unit characters are combined to form compound characters and how both single-unit and compound characters are combined to form compound (multiple-character) words. Clarication of the universally imposed learning-to-read requirements is essential for L2 reading research. The distinction between general mapping principles and mapping details provides a basis for conceptualizing precisely how prior literacy experience facilitates learning to read in a L2. To grasp the general mapping principle, children must gain the basic insights that print relates to speech; that speech can be segmented into a sequence of sounds; and that the segmented sounds correspond with graphic symbols in the writing system. Because none of these insights involves language-specic details, once
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developed in one language, they should be readily available and fully functional in subsequent literacy in another language. This, however, is not necessarily the case for the mapping details, because they are language-specic, varying across languages. Therefore, their acquisition necessitates substantial print input and experience in the language in which literacy is learned. What is common across languages in this requirement lies only in the requirement itself. Literacy experience in one language fosters an explicit understanding of what is to be accomplished in the requisite task of learning the mapping details. Prior experience with this task makes learners more reective and strategic about the task, thus expediting the process of deducing how the writing system functions in a new language. All in all, learning to read entails systematic deductions of how spoken language elementsphonology and morphemes, specicallyare mapped onto the graphic symbols representing them. Predictably, such deductions can be facilitated by metalinguistic awarenessthe ability to analyze and manipulate language forms. The sections that follow describe the role of metalingusitic awareness in learning to read. Metalinguisitic Awareness in Reading Acquisition Metalinguistic awareness is a multidimensional construct, consisting of a number of facets, which can be dened in conjunction with various structural features of language (e.g., Adams, 1990; Stahl & Murray, 1994; Yopp, 1988). Bialystok (2001, p. 123) described metalinguistic awareness as an explicit representation of the abstract structure that organizes sets of linguistic rules without being directly instantiated in any of them. Although such insights evolve through learning and using a particular language, metalinguistic awareness is distinct from linguistic knowledge in that it implies an understanding of language in its most fundamental and abstract properties, independent of surface form variations. For example, among English-speaking children, syntactic awareness can be understood as the realization that the order in which words are presented determines sentence meaning. An abstract notion of this sort contrasts with a more specic knowledge of the canonical word order (subject-verb-object) in English sentences. The utility of metalinguistic awareness lies in its capacity for enabling children to segment words into their constituents. Word segmentation is vital in learning to read because it involves learning to map among sublexical units (e.g., phonemes, syllables, and morphemes). Over the past two decades, the role of metalinguistic awareness in reading acquisition has been studied extensively. Evidence from research focusing on phonological awareness has led
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to the conviction that to master an alphabetic script, children must recognize that words can be divided into sequences of phonemes and also they must acquire the ability to analyze a words internal structure in order to identify its phonemic constituents. Early reading studies with native-English-speaking children repeatedly show that sensitivity to the phonological structure of spoken words is directly related to their ability to read and spell words (e.g., Stahl & Murray, 1994; Stanovich, 2000; Stanovich, Cunningham, & Cramer, 1984; Yopp, 1988), that phonological segmentation capacity is a powerful predictor of reading success among early- and middle-grade students (e.g., Bryant, MacLean, & Bradley, 1990; Juel, Grifth, & Gough, 1986), and that reading progress is signicantly enhanced by phonological awareness training (e.g., Bradley & Bryant, 1991). The function of morphological awareness in reading development also has been examined. Whereas phonological awareness mainly contributes to the learning of general mapping principles, morphological awareness facilitates the development of mapping details through its capacity for enabling children to segment words into their morphological constituents. Independent of phonological awareness, the ability for morphological segmentation has been found to be a reliable predictor of reading achievement (e.g., Carlisle, 1995; Carlisle & Katz, 2006; Carlisle & Nomanbhoy, 1993; Fowler & Liberman, 1995). In addition to semantic information, morphemes provide phonological and syntactic information. Morphological awareness, therefore, also plays a prominent role in reading well beyond the initial stages of learning to read. For example, morphological segmentation, as described earlier, enables readers to identify familiar elements in unfamiliar words, thus promoting lexical inference during comprehension. Reecting its multidimensionality, moreover, morphological awareness evolves gradually over time as its diverse facets mature at disparate rates. As an illustration, children acquiring English are sensitized to inectional morphemes in structurally transparent words well before schooling starts (Berko, 1958; Carlisle, 2003), but the productive use of inectional information does not occur until grade two or three (Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton, & Johnston, 1996). The awareness of derivational morphemes is a late-developing facet, emerging between grades 4 and 8 (Ku & Anderson, 2003; Tyler & Nagy, 1989, 1990). Hence, the maturation of morphological awareness is subject to general developmental constraints, and it is also aligned with the general properties of the printed words to which children are dominantly exposed at different ages.

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Crosslinguistic Variations in Metalinguistic Awareness and Learning to Read Although the early phases of literacy acquisition depend on childrens rudimentary understanding of structural regularities, the initial sensitivity is rened progressively through print encoding and decoding experience (e.g., Bowey & Francis, 1991; Perfetti, Beck, Bell, & Hughes, 1987; Tolchinsky, 2003; Vellutino & Scanlon, 1987). In this respect, literacy and metalinguistic awarenessparticularly those facets directly related to the extraction of linguistic informationare developmentally interdependent, mutually enhancing their renements. This reciprocity gives rise to two major implications: (a) Metalinguistic awareness evolves as a result of accommodating the specic properties of a particular language and its writing system and therefore, (b) its resulting form varies systematically across languages. Thus, although some awareness facets are language independent, most others are attuned to the properties of the language in which literacy is learned and, thus, are language-specic. Such variations have been reported in studies involving children learning to read in diverse languages. For example, Korean children develop sensitivity to both syllables and phonemes, and phoneme and syllable manipulation skills are equally strong predictors of their word reading ability (McBride-Chan, Wagner, Muse, Chow, & Shu, 2005). Their phonological awareness clearly reects the dual-unit (syllable and phoneme) representations in the Hangul script, wherein the symbols, each representing a distinct phoneme, must be packed into blocks to form syllables. In consonantal Hebrew, children develop stronger sensitivity to consonants than vowels (Geva, in press; Tolchinsky & Teberosky, 1998). Further, in logographic Chinese, wherein the grapheme-morpheme connections are more prominent than syllable-grapheme linkages, morphological awareness is a stronger predictor of childrens initial reading success than is phonological awareness (Ku & Anderson, 2003; Li, Anderson, Nagy, & Zhang, 2002). The Psycholinguistic Grain Size theory (Ziegler & Goswami, 2005, 2006) explains how such variations relate to orthographic depth. According to the theory, children initially develop sensitivity to larger phonological units in speech and gradually rene their sensitivity to distinguish smaller units. Although the sequence of phonological development is similar across languages, the precise ways in which spoken sounds are mapped onto graphemes vary across writing systems. In learning to read, therefore, children must understand the most effective grain size for achieving decoding efciency in their writing system. The theory also postulates that the grain size is determined by the amount of orthographic information required for decoding. In phonologically shallow

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orthographies, wherein sound-symbol correspondences are regular and consistent, decoding necessitates little orthographic information. Therefore, the grain sizes required for shallow orthographies are small at the phonemic level. In contrast, in phonologically deep, or opaque, orthographies, decoding demands far more orthographic information, thus requiring larger grain sizes, such as syllables, rimes, and even morphemes. In brief, diverse facets of metalinguistic awareness evolve through decoding and encoding linguistic information in print; therefore, their resulting forms reect the specic way in which language elements are graphically represented in the writing system in a particular language. The implication is that metalinguitic awarenessphonological and morphological awareness, in particularoffers a window for investigating the language-specic demands for learning to read across languages. Second Language Reading Development: Dual-Language Involvement Second language reading differs markedly from L1 reading simply because it involves two languages in virtually all of its operations. Theories of L2 reading must explain how the involvement of two languages alters its development. Probing the impacts of dual-language involvement, however, is far from simple, because L2 reading encompasses a wide range of learners, of different ages, and with diverse L1 backgrounds. The cognitive and linguistic resources accessible to L2 learners vary considerably more than those available to L1 readers. In L2 research, it is therefore vital to clarify what individual learners have learned through prior literacy experience; how the previously acquired competencies are incorporated in L2 reading; and how such incorporation affects L2 reading development. Language Transfer Transfer has long been a major theoretical concept in L2 research. Despite its centrality, however, there is little agreement as to what constitutes transfer. Traditionally, transfer is seen as learners reliance on L1 linguistic knowledge. Krashen (1983), for example, viewed transfer as the resultant state stemming from learners falling back on old knowledge, or L1 rules, when new knowledge is not yet sufciently developed. Similarly, Gass and Selinker (1983) regarded transfer as use of previously acquired linguistic knowledge, which results in IL (interlanguage) forms. Odlin (1989) also endorsed the general thrust of the contention that transfer manifests learners reliance on L1 knowledge. He
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argued, Transfer is the inuence from similarities and differences between the target language and any other language that has been previously (and perhaps imperfectly) acquired (p. 27). These views of transfer share three assumptions. First, what is transferred is linguistic knowledge, conceived as a set of rules. Second, the reliance on L1 knowledge, more or less, is associated with an insufcient grasp of L2 rules. Third, transfer tends to cease when L2 linguistic knowledge has sufciently developed. The clear implication is that once adequate prociency is attained, learners L1 knowledge plays no role in explaining individual differences in L2 learning as well as the resultant knowledge. These contentions, however, are no longer uniformly endorsed. Alternative conceptualizations consistently underscore the need for broader denitions of transfer (August & Shanahan, 2006; Riches & Genesee, 2006). As an illustration, transfer is dened as the ability to learn new skills by drawing on previously acquired resources (Genesee, Geva, Dressler, & Kamil, 2006). Similarly, prior learning experience is regarded as a reservoir of knowledge, skills, and abilities that is available when learning a new language as well as literacy skills in that language (Riches & Genesee). Under these newer conceptualizations, the investigative focus has shifted from characterizing L1 inuences (e.g., as negative, positive, neutral) to identifying the resources available to L2 learners at the onset of literacy learning. Mechanisms of Transfer In Functionalist theories, as described previously, language is viewed as a set of relationships between forms and functions, and its acquisition is viewed as the process of internalizing these relationships. Because such relationships do not embody closely matched, one-on-one correspondences, they are seen as correlational, rather than absolute, rules. According to the Connectionist theorem, moreover, the internalization of such relationships occurs through cumulative mapping experience. A pattern of mapping is internalized when its execution is automated. Consequently, in this view of learning, what is transferred is not a set of rules, as traditionally conceived, but the internalized mapping patterns. By extending these contentions, one way of dening transfer is automatic activation of well-established L1 competencies (mapping patterns) triggered by L2 input. Thus, transfer transpires regardless of learners intent (nonvolitional) and its occurrence cannot be easily controlled (nonselective). Several assumptions underlie this view of transfer. First, for transfer to occur, the competencies in question must be well rehearsedto the point of automaticityin
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a L1. Second, transfer is not likely to cease at any given point in time during L2 development. Third, the transferred competencies will continue to mature through experience with L2 print input. These assumptions are clearly distinct from those underlying the earlier notions of transfer. Experimental studies involving adult bilingual learners provide strong empirical evidence supporting nonvolitional L1 involvement (e.g., Dijkstra, Van Jaarsveld, & Ten Brinke, 1998; Van Heuven, Dijkstra, & Grainger, 1998). Van Heuven et al., for example, found that lexical decisions in English among uent Dutch-English bilinguals were affected by graphically similar words in both English and Dutch even though English was the only language required for task performance. Such crosslinguistic effects clearly indicate that both languages are activated automatically during L2 lexical processing. Using semantic relatedness judgments, Jiang (2002) also showed that L1 semantic information remained active during L2 semantic information extraction, again implying that the activation of L1 information cannot be easily suppressed by learners when processing L2 lexical information. The most direct evidence of the L1 involvement comes from a cognitive neuroscience study. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Tan et al. (2003) successfully visualized Chinese-English bilinguals brain activity during phonological decoding in their two languages. The researchers found that phonological processing of Chinese characters among Chinese dominant bilinguals relied on a neural system that was clearly distinct from that used by monolingual native English speakers. Critically, when processing English, their bilingual participants exhibited patterns of brain activity virtually identical to those involved in Chinese decoding. These ndings clearly show that wellestablished L1 processing patterns are automatically activated during L2 lexical processing. Nonvolitional L1 activation implies that well-rehearsed L1 competencies particularly metalinguistic awarenessare involved in L2 information processing, regardless of learners intent, age, L2 prociency, and L1 background. This, in turn, suggests that L2 input is processed through the transferred L1 competencies. Under the Connectionist premises, therefore, two predictions can be made: (a) L2 reading subskills emerge through crosslinguistic interactions between transferred L1 competencies and L2 print input; (b) the emerging subskills are gradually adjusted to the salient properties of the L2 input. Consequently, theories of L2 reading must explain such interactions and subsequent adjustments. This entails clarications of what constitutes both L1 and L2 factorsfor example, which L1 competencies are readily available for transfer; how they can be identied; what constitutes the L2 input; how its properties can be analyzed and
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described; and so on. As a step toward this end, the subsequent sections examine how the impacts of L1 and L2 literacy experiences have been conceptualized and studied in L2 reading research. Impacts of L1 Literacy Experience On the assumption that L1 reading ability is the major predictor of L2 reading achievement, a majority of the studies pursuing the impacts of L1literacy experience have investigated the crosslinguistic relationship in reading abilities in the two languages. Other studies have examined the formation of metalinguistic awareness in a L2 among older, metalinguistically well-trained, learners. Additionally, from a crosslinguistic perspective, the lasting impacts of L1 literacy experience have also been examined by comparing processing behaviors among L2 learners with diverse L1 backgrounds. Crosslinguistic Relationships in Reading Skills In a series of inuential publications, Cummins (1979, 1984, 1991) proposed the Developmental Interdependence Hypothesis, contending that the levels and forms of L2 prociency that bilingual children attain are determined largely by the capabilities they have developed before intensive L2 exposure begins. He argued that communication demands vary on two continuacognitive complexity and support from shared physical contexteach of which imposes different requisites. The skills essential for highly contextualized communicationas in casual face-to-face conversation, for examplediffers considerably from those necessitated for cognitively demanding decontextualized communication, such as academic literacy. According to Cummins, whereas context-embedded communication skills are relatively easy to master, the acquisition of decontextualized communication skills is considerably more difcult, requiring substantial linguistic knowledge as well as a sufcient cognitive foundation for manipulating linguistic information without contextual, and other nonlinguistic, support. Cummins maintained, moreover, that the latter competence, once developed in a primary language, is shared across languages, supporting cognitively demanding communication in a L2. On the assumption that L2 reading success depends primarily on L1 literacy competence, early bilingual studies investigated how L1 and L2 reading abilities are related (e.g., Cummins, Swain, Nakajima, Handscombe, & Green, 1981; Legarretta, 1979; Skutnabb-Kangass & Toukomaa, 1976; Troike, 1978). Their results consistently showed that reading abilities among school-age children were strongly related between their two languages, which led to the contention that L1 competence is the chief determinant of L2 achievement (Cummins,
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1979, 1991). Thus, the crosslinguistic connection between L1 and L2 reading abilities was established at the outset of this research. In the early studies, however, reading was uniformly treated as a single unitary construct. As a result, the critical questionswhich subskills are transferred and how they contribute to L2 reading developmentremained unaddressed. Under the componential view of reading, more recent studies have begun to incorporate larger batteries of tasks designed to measure a variety of subskills, including phonological awareness (Bialystok, McBride-Chang, & Luk, 2005; Branum-Martin et al., 2006; Durgunoglu, Nagy, & Hancin, 1993; WadeWoolley & Geva, 2000; Wang, Perfetti, & Liu, 2005), decoding (Abu-Rabia, 1997; Da Fontoura & Siegel, 1995; Durgunoglu et al.; Geva & Siegel, 1999; Gholamain & Geva, 1999; Wade-Woolley & Geva), syntactic awareness (AbuRabia, 1995; Da Fontoura & Siegel, 1995), and working memory (Abu-Rabia, 1995; Da Fontoura & Siegel, 1995; Geva & Siegel, 2000; Gholamain & Geva, 1999). Collectively, these studies have established patterns of crosslinguistic relationships in a small, but critical, set of subskills across diverse combinations of L1 and L2. Clearly, this approach holds high promise for identifying the subskills already available for incorporation in L2 reading. Facilitation Benets From Prior Literacy Experience Of late, a series of studies involving adult foreign language learners have explored the formation of literacy-related competenciesmetalinguistic awareness, in particularin a L2. Because the acquisition of the awareness facets closely attuned to the target language necessitates substantial print input and processing experience, it poses a serious challenge for L2 learners. The central question is to what extent and how prior metalinguistic training can expedite the acquisition of L2 metalinguistic awareness. Although the question has yet to be tested directly, studies involving adult L2 learners of logographic languages shed some light on the issue. With the growing interest in logographic literacy, an increasing number of studies have begun to address character-knowledge development among L2 learners of Chinese and Japanese. Through observations and learner introspections, descriptive inquiries revealed that after 1 year of study, L2 learners of Chinese and Japanese become aware of the utility of radicals (character components) in learning new characters, that such awareness is related to character recognition performance, and that learners initially use holistic approaches (e.g., rote memorization) to character learning, and gradually become more componential and analytical, invoking character segmentation and radical analysis (Everson & Ke, 1997; Fujiwara, 2004; Ke, 1998; McGinnis, 1995).
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The formation of radical awareness has also been explored in experimental studies. Using lexical-decision and naming, Wang, Perfetti, and Liu (2003) found that adult learners of Chinese became sensitive to the structural properties of the characters they had learned in their rst semester and that such sensitivity was related to character naming performance. Similarly, Koda and Takahashi (2007) compared radical awareness among native and nonnative Kanji users through semantic category judgment. Their ndings also indicate that adult learners of Japanese develop sensitivity to the primary function of semantic radicals early and are attentive to their information during Kanji processing. However, their basic understanding is hardly sufcient for differentiating valid from invalid radical information and incorporating valid information selectively in Kanji meaning extraction. In sum, the studies involving adult learners of Chinese and Japanese consistently suggest that these learners are progressively sensitized to the major functional and structural properties of radicals and rely on this sensitivity both in learning new characters and retrieving stored character information. Of greatest signicance, however, such sensitivity readily develops with heavily restricted exposure (approximately 250400 characters) among metalinguistically sophisticated adult learners. This contrasts sharply with children learning to read Chinese as their L1, who require knowledge of roughly 1,5002,000 characters to develop similar metalinguistic insights (Shu & Anderson, 1999). Impacts of Qualitative Variation in L1 Literacy Experiences Languages vary in the critical dimensions of their meaning-making functions. Inasmuch as reading skills evolve through accommodating the properties of a particular language and its writing system, the resulting skills inevitably reect those properties and, thus, are unique to that language. Empirical investigations involving skilled L1 readers of a wide variety of languages provide strong empirical support for systematic crosslinguistic variations in lexical and syntactic processing (e.g., Katz & Frost, 1992; Mazuka & Itoh, 1995; Saito, Masuda, & Kawakami, 1999; Taft & Zhu, 1995; Vaid, 1995). The question is, what happens when those skills, shaped to accommodate the properties of one language, transfer to another? From the language-specic perspective, a number of studies have investigated systematic variations in processing behaviors attributable to learners L1 linguistic and orthographic properties. Typically in these studies, the magnitude of a particular experimental manipulation is compared among L2 learners with contrasting L1 backgrounds. For example, English as a second language (ESL) learners with alphabetic and logographic backgrounds can be contrasted in
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their reliance on phonemic analysis during phonological decoding. Because alphabetic literacy requires segmenting and manipulating phonemic information, alphabetic readers rely heavily on phonemic analysis. In contrast, phonological decoding in logography does not entail phonemic analysis because phonology in logographic literacy involves syllables and morphemes. It can be hypothesized, therefore, that blocking phonemic information induces different reactions among alphabetic and logographic ESL learners. In specic, whereas decoding efciency among alphabetic ESL learners would be seriously impaired when phonemic information is made unavailable, logographic learners would be far less affected by this manipulation. The studies testing this and other similar hypotheses generally conrm that L2 learners with diverse L1 backgrounds respond differently to a variety of experimental manipulations (e.g., Akamatsu, 2003; Brown & Haynes, 1985; Green & Meara, 1987; Koda, 1998, 1999); and critically that the observed differences are attributable to the structural variations in the participants respective rst languages (e.g., Koda, 1989, 1990, 1993; Ryan & Meara, 1991). Viewed collectively, these results make it plain that L1 literacy experience not only imposes lasting impacts on L2 reading development but also systematically alters processing procedures for print information extraction in a L2. Impacts of L2 Literacy Experience Print input and experience are the key determinants of the outcomes stemming from a particular instance of literacy learning. In L2 research, the effects of language prociency, as a general index of learner experience, have been extensively studied. To date, however, far less information is available regarding the nature of L2 print input and its impacts on reading subskills development. L2 Prociency It is widely accepted that sufcient linguistic knowledge is a vital requisite for successful reading in a L2. The signicance of L2 prociency, for example, was stressed in the short-circuit hypothesis (Clarke, 1980) that limited control over the language short circuits the good readers system causing him/her to revert to poor reader strategies when confronted with a difcult or confusing task in the second language (p. 120). Similarly, Yorio (1971) maintained that conceptual processing, such as guessing and predicting, is hindered by the imperfect knowledge of the language (p. 108). These early contentions led to a celebrated question (Alderson, 1984): Is second language reading a language problem or a reading problem? The question has prompted a number of empirical studies
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comparing the relative contributions of the two key variablesL2 prociency and L1 reading abilityto L2 reading performance. Their ndings suggest that although the two factors contribute signicantly to L2 reading, linguistic knowledge generally accounts for greater proportions of L2 reading variances than does L1 ability (e.g., Bernhardt & Kamil, 1995; Bossers, 1991; Carrell, 1991). Caution must be exercised, however, in interpreting these results because in the studies, both reading ability and language prociency were represented by aggregated scores. To reiterate, disparate reading subskills necessitate distinct linguistic knowledge. Therefore, aggregated scores allow neither inferences regarding how ones ability contributes to the other nor generalizations of the reported ndings to specic subskills. In fact, studies investigating decoding development among school-age bilingual students demonstrate that L2 oral prociency has little bearing on word reading performance (Durgunoglu et al., 1993; Gholamain & Geva, 1999). Prociency effects have also been studied by comparing decoding efciency among high- and low-prociency L2 learners. It has been reported that with increased prociency, decoding speed improves (Favreau & Segalowitz, 1982; Haynes & Carr, 1990), and error rate decreases (Bernhardt, 1991). Similarly, eye-movement studies demonstrate that while the number of eye xations does not differ widely across prociency levels, the xation duration among lowprociency learners is considerably longer than that among high-prociency learners (e.g., Oller, 1972; Oller & Tullius, 1973; Bernhardt, 1986; Saito, 1989). Clearly, the collective implication is that prociency differences are directly related to decoding efciency. It is important to note that inefcient decoding has a major consequence for comprehension subskills development. Because inefcient decoding is resource demanding, it severely restricts readers involvement in higher order comprehension operations, such as text-information integration, inference, and reasoning. Thus, decoding efciency variance is likely to cause differential involvement in the subsequent comprehension operations between high- and low-prociency learners. The predicted contrast in comprehension behaviors between high- and low-prociency learners has been found in studies exploring reading strategies. Chamot and El-Dinary (1999), as an illustration, compared the quality and quantity of reading strategies among high- and low-achieving elementaryschool learners in language immersion classrooms. Although the total number of reported strategies was similar between the groups, high- and low-achieving students differed in the types of strategy used during reading. Roughly half the strategies reported by low-achieving students were decoding-related strategies,
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whereas the majority reported by high-achieving students was conceptual in nature, including inferences, predictions, and elaborations. Similar tendencies have been reported in other studies involving adult L2 learners (e.g., Carrell, 1989; Chern, 1994; de Courcy & Birch, 1993; Young & Oxford, 1997). Additionally, these studies have revealed that low-prociency learners rely heavily on local strategies to enhance their decoding performance, whereas highprociency learners generally do not think local strategies are useful. L2 Print Input and Exposure The quantity and quality of input processed largely determines what emerges from learning. It is thus essential that the major properties of input be carefully analyzed and accurately described. Despite its potential utility, however, little information is available on the nature of print input or its impacts on L2 reading development. Of late, however, preliminary efforts have been initiated to explore how specic input properties enhance the formation of metalinguistic awareness in L2 literacy learning. Wang, Perfetti, and Liu (2004) examined how curriculum-based frequency affects character knowledge development among adult native English speakers learning Chinese as a L2. Using lexical judgments, the researchers found that novice learners were capable of detecting structural violations and that their performance was signicantly faster and more accurate with high-frequency characters. The results were interpreted as suggesting that adult L2 learners are quickly sensitized to the major structural properties of the grapheme in a new writing system and that input frequency strongly affects the formation of such sensitivity. The impacts of print input and exposure have also been studied with schoolage students learning to read in Chinese as a heritage language (CHL) (Koda, Lu, & Zhang, in press). The researchers analyzed the major properties of the Chinese characters explicitly taught in grades 16 Language Arts textbooks specically designed for CHL learners. Their analysis revealed that CHL students are taught roughly 35% of the characters and 20% of the radicals that are introduced in grades 16 textbooks for native-Chinese-speaking children in China (Shu et al., 2003). Despite these quantitative differences, the types of character and proportion of structurally and functionally regular characters were remarkably similar between the two textbook corpora. Based on the analysis, the researchers then examined how the identied input (Chinese characters) properties related to morphological awareness among grades 35 CHL students. They found that CHL students were sensitized to the major structural and functional properties of the morphologically complex characters. Importantly, however,
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there was no increment in morphological awareness among CHL students in the three critical grades. Considering that major growth in morphological awareness occurs between grades 2 and 5 among native-Chinese-speaking children (Ku & Anderson, 2003; Shu & Anderson, 1999), these ndings suggest that although the restricted input does not prohibit CHL students from developing a basic sensitivity to the major input properties, it does not allow them to rene their preliminary understanding, and, as a result, their morphological awareness remains basic. Viewed as a whole, these initial studies clearly suggest that input characteristics are directly responsible for the resulting form and level of metalinguistic awareness. Interaction Between L1 and L2 Literacy Experiences As evident in the preceding sections, L1 and L2 literacy experiences both play a denitive, but distinct, role in L2 reading development. Because L2 reading skills are presumed to evolve through their interactions, it is important to examine their impacts in tandem. Several lines of inquiries are already underway, considering (a) common underlying competencies, (b) linguistic distance, and (c) crosslinguistic interactions. Phonological Awareness as a Common Underlying Competence In view of the strong contribution of phonological awareness (PA) in early reading development in a variety of languages, including logographic Chinese (Ho & Bryant, 1999; Li et al., 2002), the consequential question is whether PA is a language-specic construct or a general competence shared across languages. A portion of PAchildrens growing understanding of the segmental nature of spoken wordsis believed to emerge, as a by-product of oral language development, prior to formal reading instruction. Because the concept of word segmentation is not specic to any particular language, once developed in one language, it should be readily available in learning to read in another language, serving as the foundation for subsequent PA and decoding development. It can be predicted, therefore, that (a) all facets of PA in bilingual children are highly correlated between their two languages and (b) L2 decoding development is closely related to PA in both languages. A growing number of studies involving young L2 learners have provided considerable support for these predictions. Early studies investigated whether PA in either L1 or L2 relates to L2 word-reading ability. Cisero, Carlo, and Royer (1992), for example, contrasted English monolingual and Spanish-dominant bilingual rst-grade children in phoneme detection and
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concluded that in both groups, competent readers were superior in phonemic analysis to their less competent counterparts. Similarly, in a study on Spanishdominant bilingual rst-grade students, Durgunoglu et al. (1993) determined that L1 PA is a powerful predictor of subsequent word recognition skills in both languages. Using larger batteries of tasks in both L1 and L2, subsequent studies have more directly tested PAs crosslinguistic relationship. Their ndings suggest that L1 and L2 PA are closely related and that poor readers are uniformly weak in phonological skills in both languages (e.g., Abu-Rabia, 1995; August, Calderon, & Carlo, 2001; Carlisle & Beeman, 2000; Cormier & Kelson, 2000; Da Fontoura & Siegel, 1995; Gholamain & Geva, 1999; Verhoeven, 2000; Wade-Woolley & Geva, 2000). More recent studies have begun to address more specic issues concerning construct validity and generalizability of the earlier ndings. As a case in point, in a large-scale study involving 812 Spanish-English bilingual kindergarten children, Branum-Martin et al. (2006) tested the construct validity of three commonly used PA tasks (blending, segmentation, and deletion). Although the three tasks dened a unitary construct in each language, deletion was less strongly related to the construct. Removing deletion, the remaining tasks in both languages loaded on a single factor, implying that although there are some unique dimensions, PA in English and Spanish largely overlap. The above-cited studies all involved children learning to read two alphabetic languages. It is less certain whether the reported crosslinguistic relationships can be generalized to bilingual children whose literacy involves two typologically unrelated writing systems. A small, but growing, body of evidence suggests that PA is also strongly related between Chinese and English (Bialystok et al., 2005; McBride-Chan, Cheung, Chow, & Choi, 2006; Wang, Perfetti, & Liu, 2005), providing further support for the supposition that at least a portion of PA is a general competence shared across languages. Taken as a whole, the empirical ndings make it plain that (a) as in L1 literacy, PA plays a critical role in L2 reading acquisition, (b) PA in a bilingual students two languages are highly correlated, and (c) PA relates to decoding both within and across languages. Although the extent to which PA is a general, language-independent competence is not yet certain, the ndings to date suggest that once acquired in one language, PA readily provides substantial facilitation in learning to read in another language.

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Linguistic Distance Between the Two Languages Linguistic distance refers to the degree of structural similarity between two languages. Combinations of languages among L2 learners are widely varied, so some combinations are more closely related than others. Because shared structural properties pose similar processing demands, when the two languages are closely related, transferred L1 competencies, in principle, should be readily functional with minimum adjustment. Hence, linguistic distance should be directly related to differences in processing efciency at a given point in time among L2 readers with diverse L1 backgrounds. Although distance effects have been widely acknowledged, little is known about how shared structural properties might facilitate L2 reading development. Muljani, Koda, and Montes (1998) shed substantial light on the issue by testing orthographic distance effects on L2 intraword structural sensitivity. Comparing lexical-decision performance among prociency-matched adult ESL learners with related (Indonesian employing a Roman-alphabetic script) and unrelated (Chinese using a logographic system) orthographic backgrounds, the researchers showed that only Indonesian participants beneted from intraword structural congruity (i.e., spelling patterns consistent between English and Indonesian). Their superiority, however, was far less pronounced with incongruent items whose spelling patterns were unique to English. These ndings suggest that although orthographic distance has general facilitative impacts, accelerated efciency is localized, occurring only in the operations whose demands are identical to those imposed by the learners L1. Similar ndings have been reported in studies comparing morphological segmentation among ESL learners with related (Korean: alphabetic, concatinative) and unrelated (Chinese: logographic, nonconcatinative) L1 backgrounds (Koda, 2000; Koda, Takahashi, & Fender, 1998). Not surprisingly, Korean learners were more efcient in morphological segmentation than their prociencymatched Chinese counterparts, but their efciency gap was substantially reduced when they were confronted with the items whose structural properties are unique to English. Clearly, segmentation efciency in the items structurally unique only to the target language is far less affected by linguistic distance, presumably because their analysis requires insights unavailable to either Korean or Chinese ESL learners. Here again, the ndings suggest that the distance effect is far more specic than has been generally assumed. The important implication is that L1-induced facilitation can be predicted, with great accuracy, through nely tuned crosslinguistic analysis.

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Crosslinguistic Interactions Because dual-language involvement is the dening characteristic of secondlanguage reading, understanding how the two languages interact during secondlanguage processing is critical. Of late, interest in such interactions has risen. Initial studies have explored the relative impact of rst- and second-language factors on second-language lexical processing, using a variety of experimental tasks including semantic category judgment (Wang, Koda, & Perfetti, 2003), associative word learning (Hamada & Koda, in press), and word identication (Wang & Koda, 2005, this volume). To isolate the impact stemming from either L1 or L2 factors in these studies, L2 stimulus words were manipulated in one way or another, and the magnitude of such manipulations was compared between two learner groups, each representing a distinct L1. In such a design, the extent that a particular manipulation affects both groups is used as the basis for gauging the L2 impact, and the extent that the effect of the manipulation varies between the learner groups serves as an index of the L1 impact. As an illustration, through semantic category judgments, Wang, Koda, & Perfetti (2003) compared the relative impact of phonological and graphic manipulations on judgment performance among ESL learners with alphabetic (Korean) and logographic (Chinese) L1 backgrounds. In the study, participants were rst presented with a category description, such as ower, and then showed a target word; they were then asked to decide whether the word was a member of the shown category. The task would have been simple if the students had been shown real words as targets. In the experiment, however, the target words were either phonologically (using homophones as targets; e.g., rows for rose) or graphically (using similarly spelled words as targets; e.g., fees for feet) manipulated. The primary hypothesis was that the two ESL groups would respond differently to the two types of manipulation: Korean participants would be more likely to accept homophones as category members, whereas the Chinese participants would make more false-positive responses to graphically similar targets. The data showed that both phonological and graphic manipulations signicantly interfered with category judgment performance among ESL learners regardless of their L1 backgrounds. However, the magnitude of interference stemming from each type of manipulation varied between the groups. As predicted, Korean learners made more errors with homophonic (phonologically manipulated) items, whereas more serious interference occurred with similarly spelled (graphically manipulated) targets among Chinese learners. These results seem to suggest that (a) prociency-matched ESL learners are equally sensitized to L2 properties, (b) the two groups rely on different information during
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L2 lexical processing and (c) these differences reect the variations predicted from the properties specic to their respective L1s. To sum up, the studies investigating the crosslinguistic interactions, although still limited in quantity, generally suggest that L1 literacy experience has long-lasting impacts on L2 reading development, but prociency-matched L2 learners are similarly affected by L2 properties. In all studies, L2 variables were found to have a stronger impact, overriding the variance attributable to L1 experience. Thus, although L2 print information processing is guided by insights stemming from literacy experiences in the two languages, L2 print input appears to be a dominant force in shaping reading subskills in that language. Directions for Future Research on L2 Reading Development As stated at the outset, the primary objective of this review is to explore the ways in which L2 reading is constrained by language-specic demands both within and across languages. These relations are anything but simple because L2 reading is a complex construct, involving a multitude of operations as well as two languages in each operation. Examinations of the linguistic constraints across operations, as well as across languages, entail the dissection of reading into its functionally distinct components and the identication of the linguistic requisites for each component in both languages. Recent developments in reading and SLA research make such analyses possible. Empirically, however, a number of critical issues remain unexplored. Future research might be enhanced by purposefully addressing the three dimensions dening the very nature of L2 reading: (a) multitude of reading components, (b) dual-language involvement, and (c) learner varieties. Expanding Reading Subskills Traditionally, in L2 research, reading has been viewed unidimensionally as a single unitary construct and is measured through global tests of comprehension. More often than not, such a view is limiting because it does not permit researchers to identify variations in reading problems or the sources of those problems. Put simply, when learning to read, diverse groups of L2 learners are likely to encounter fundamentally different problems stemming from their multiple characteristics, including different ages, disparate L1 backgrounds, varying L2 prociency, and so on. It is virtually impossible, therefore, to adequately deal with such diversity without dissecting reading into its components. Under the componential view of reading, recent studies have begun to incorporate larger batteries of tasks to identify the major correlates of reading
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development in a L2. The approach holds much promise for further advancing this research. To date, the studies have focused mainly on the factors affecting decoding development, including phonological awareness (e.g., Durgunoglu et al., 1993; Wang et al., 2005), rapid picture naming (e.g., Chiappe, Siegel, & Gottardo, 2002), letter knowledge (e.g., Gholamain & Geva, 1999; Chiappe, Siegel, & Wade-Woolley, 2002), and working memory (e.g., Gholamain & Geva). Through such highly concentrated efforts, generalizable conclusions regarding L2 decoding development are emerging. Nonetheless, reading entails far more than decoding. It is essential, therefore, to expand the componential approach to other subskills, including, for example, those required for extracting nonphonological (e.g., semantic and grammatical) information from printed words, those necessary for integrating the extracted lexical information into phrases and sentences, and particularly those involved in conceptual processing. Given that the ultimate goal of reading is text-meaning construction, systematic investigations of comprehension subskills development will yield signicant additional insights, much needed for improving literacy instruction for language-minority students struggling with reading for academic learning. Incorporating Crosslinguistic Perspectives Dual-language involvement has been underscored, throughout this synthesis, as the major characteristic of L2 reading. Although there is a solid body of evidence that literacy-related competencies transfer across languages, little is known how the transferred competencies, shaped in one language, become functional in another. The information is vital in understanding the impacts of prior literacy experience on L2 reading development. However, obtaining such information is not easy because it requires systematic comparisons of qualitative and quantitative changes in particular reading subskills over time across learners with diverse L1 backgrounds. Moreover, such comparisons are practically impossible without solid frameworks through which critical decisions can be made regarding the specic subskills to be compared and the methods of comparison. A principal obstacle in such explorations lies in limited information on reading development in languages other than English. Without understanding what is required to be literate in either a L1 or a L2, it is essentially unfeasible to identify gaps between what has been previously established and what has yet to be acquired by a particular subgroup of L2 learners. Interest in crosslinguistic variations in reading acquisition has begun to emerge (Koda & Zehler, in press; Li, Gaffney, & Packard, 2002; McBride-Chan, 2004). Although still
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limited, the currently available information on literacy development in diverse languages can provide useful guidance for the crosslinguistic analysis essential for clarifying variations in the specic way in which language elements and graphic symbols relate to one another. Involving a Wider Variety of Learners The onset of learning (i.e., the age at which L2 literacy learning commences) is critical in clarifying the impacts of dual-language involvement because what is transferred is essentially determined by what has been established through prior literacy learning. Other things being equal, older learners possess more transfer-ready competencies. Conceivably, then, their L2 reading development is more seriously affected by prior literacy experience. The clear implication is that learners at different stages in L2 reading development face fundamentally different challenges when learning to read in a L2. Documenting these differences is vital in understanding the real needs of learners as well as helping them maximally exploit their previously acquired competencies. To date, however, the majority of this research has focused either on early elementary students (grades K to 2) or on college-level learners (August & Shanahan, 2006; Zehler et al., 2003). There have been fewer studies on students between upper elementary grades and middle/high schools. In reality, however, a large number of students in this age range receive formal instruction in schools in a language other than their mother tongue. Although many of them are literate in their L1, little information is available as to what they have already developed and how it contributes to their L2 reading development. Unlike younger students, moreover, these learners must meet the challenge of mastering the subject matter in a new language. Given that reading is integral to academic learning, expediting their reading development in the language of instruction should receive high priority. Capitalizing on the resources already available to them can be an effective approach to helping them meet the challenge. Success in such an approach depends entirely on accurate, research-based information on what these learners bring to L2 literacy learning. The Present Issue As evident in the studies included in this issue, L2 reading research has made substantial progress in the recent years. These studies, previously published in Language Learning between 2001 and 2005, were selected because each represents a new approach to exploring critical issues in L2 reading. Although they cover a broad range of topics, the studies share one thing in common: They
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treat L2 reading as a complex, multilingual, multifaceted construct. In particular, two studies (by Bialystok and by Wang & Koda) deal with the crosslinguistic dimension of the construct, whereas the others (by Pulido, by Stevenson et al., and by Nassaji) directly address the multitude of the construct, dealing with its component operations and their functional interactions. Bialystok examined literacy acquisition in bilingual children by isolating bilingualism and literacy acquisition and clarifying the effects of the former on the latter. Subsequently, Wang and Koda explored the impact of L1 orthographic experience on sensitivity to L2 word properties. By acknowledging the inherent complexity in both text comprehension and vocabulary learning, Pulido investigated how levels of text comprehension affect incidental word learning using multiple outcome measures. Similarly, Stevenson et al. estimated the relative involvement in different levels of text processing among Dutch high school students by comparing reading strategies in their two languages. Finally, based on an in-depth analysis of schema theory, Nassaji offered an alternative approach to explaining the role of knowledge in reading comprehension. References
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