The pathway to English word reading in Chinese ESL children: the role of spelling

Dan Lin, Yingyi Liu, Huilin Sun, Richard Kwok Shing Wong, Susanna Siu sze Yeung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The present longitudinal study investigated the role of spelling as a bridge between various reading-related predictors and English word reading in Chinese children learning English as a Second Language (ESL). One hundred and forty-one 5-year-old kindergarten children from Hong Kong, whose first language (L1) was Cantonese and second language (L2) was English, were administered tests of phonological awareness, letter knowledge, English vocabulary, spelling and English word reading at three time points (T1, T2 and T3) at 3-month intervals over a 6-month period. Nonverbal IQ was included as a control variable. The results showed that phonological awareness, letter knowledge and English vocabulary at T1 all predicted English word reading (T3) through spelling (T2). Further mediation analyses showed that, for phonological awareness and English vocabulary, full mediation effects were found. For letter knowledge, a partial mediation effect was observed. These results suggest that, in Chinese ESL kindergarteners, reading-related predictors foster word reading via spelling, a process that intersects phonology, orthography and semantics. Practical implications of these findings were also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-103
Number of pages17
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • ESL
  • English word reading
  • Letter
  • Phonological awareness
  • Spelling
  • Vocabulary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


Dive into the research topics of 'The pathway to English word reading in Chinese ESL children: the role of spelling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this