Development of morphological awareness and its impact on reading among young learners of Chinese as a heritage language

Yanhui Zhang, Keiko Koda, Chin-Lung Yang, Chan Lü

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingBook Chapterpeer-review


The present study explored morphological awareness among Grades 3-5 Chinese heritage language (CHL) learners and its impacts on character knowledge and reading sub-skill development. The learners’ literacy learning of CHL under study occurs with duly developed oral language proficiency and heavily restricted print input. These children typically use their mother tongue at home, receive primary literacy instruction in English at school, and pursue ancillary literacy in Chinese in a weekend school. Three batteries of tests were designed to measure morphological awareness, character knowledge, and reading comprehension sub-skills. The results demonstrated that (1) heritage language learners performed well above the chance level on all but one morphological awareness tasks, but their performance was visibly worse than that among native Chinese speaking children; (2) there were no differences in any of the morphological awareness sub-test scores among Grades 3-5 heritage language learners; (3) although character knowledge did not differ across the grade levels, reading comprehension performance of Grade 5 students was significantly superior to that of the younger cohorts; and (4) morphological awareness among heritage language learners did not systematically relate either with character knowledge or with reading comprehension. The findings point to the significance of optimized teaching and instructional strategies for CHL learners and open up further explorations to fathom the hidden dimensions more accurately, including those pertaining to social-cultural interactions and incidental learning, accounting for the CHL’ learning process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReading in Chinese as an Additional Language: Learners’ Development, Instruction and Assessment
EditorsLiu Li, Dongbo Zhang
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781003029038
ISBN (Print)9780367464875
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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