Original Research

Learning to read in English: Comparing monolingual English and bilingual Zulu-English Grade 3 learners

Diana Soares De Sousa
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 1, No 1 | a70 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v1i1.70 | © 2011 Diana Soares De Sousa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 May 2014 | Published: 31 December 2011

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Diana Soares De Sousa, University of Witwatersrand Department of Psychology, South Africa

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The acquisition of reading skills of 100 monolingual English and 100 bilingual Zulu-English third-grade learners was investigated by measuring their phonological- and reading skills. Little research exists on how the presence of a spoken-only Zulu (L1) could influence the English (L2) reading acquisition process. PA tasks were correlated with reading measures in English as an L1 and L2, but significant differences were found on all of the measures; implying overall support for use of PA measures for reading achievement in L1 English monolinguals and in the English (L2) of bilingual children, but with the understanding that L1 Zulu spoken proficiency and L2 English-only instruction influences the underlying repertoire of PA skills used for L2 English reading acquisition, different from that of the L1 English reading acquisition process. The implications of these findings for L2 reading development and using phonological measures across cultural-linguistic groups, for educational purposes, are discussed


bilingualism; phonological awareness; orthographic transparency hypo-thesis; word reading; reading comprehension.


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