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How do previously acquired languages affect acquisition of English as a foreign language

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Abstract

The present study aims to examine the linguistic and orthographic proximity hypothesis in new script acquisition by comparing the performance of Circassian L1 speaking children who are emerging quadri-literates with Hebrew L1 speaking children who are emerging biliterates. Tests in decoding and spelling various English target conventions were conducted. Thirty 10 year old Circassian L1 speaking children were compared to 46 Hebrew L1 speaking children. Results show that the group of Circassian L1 speaking children outperformed the group of Hebrew L1 speaking children and showed a significant advantage in decoding and spelling target orthographic conventions. There were no significant differences between the two groups on decoding and spelling the silent 〈e〉, which provided a challenge for both groups. The results provide support for the linguistic and orthographic proximity hypothesis whereby phonemes and orthographic characteristics that exist in a child’s first or additional language system and writing system facilitate acquisition of orthographic conventions in a new language and writing system.

References

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