What is it about?

This study highlighted the importance of using a composite scoring system when appraising the emergent literacy skills of bilingual preschoolers. Our results showed that the bilingual children’s performance in one language (either Samoan or English) significantly underestimated their composite language performance. In fact, the bilingual children significantly outperformed their monolingual peers on receptive vocabulary when composite scoring was used.

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Why is it important?

As a group, children from Pasifika ethnic backgrounds are at increased risk of academic underachievement compared to their peers from non-Pasifika backgrounds, especially in the areas of reading and speaking. However, our results clearly indicated that as preschoolers, the Samoan children showed superior vocabulary skills compared to their monolingual peers who attended kindergartens in the same area. Future longitudinal research is needed to track these children's language and literacy development as they transition into school.


This is an important piece of work that highlights why we need to assess bilingual children across languages so we do not underestimate their language and early literacy skills.

A/Prof Marleen F Westerveld
Griffith University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Emergent literacy performance across two languages: assessing four-year-old bilingual children, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, September 2013, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/13670050.2013.835302.
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