Beyond Cross-Language Transfer: Reconceptualizing the Impact of Early Bilingualism on Phonological Awareness Academic Article uri icon


  • This study investigates effects of early bilingualism on phonological awareness that are abstract and beyond cross-language transfer. It extends the scope of previous research by systematically examining hypotheses derived from structural sensitivity theory. The theory postulates that having access to two languages renders structural similarities and differences between languages more salient, thus allowing bilingual children to form representations of language structure at a more abstract level. About 200 bilingual and monolingual kindergartners, first-graders, and second-graders in Taiwan participated in experiments taking into account the syllable structures, the phoneme inventories, and the phonotactics of the bilinguals' two languages. Findings from the study provide empirical support for structural sensitivity theory and indicate the need to reconceptualize the bilingual effect on metalinguistic development beyond cross-language transfer. © 2010 Society for the Scientific Study of Reading.

author list (cited authors)

  • Kuo, L., & Anderson, R. C.

citation count

  • 84

publication date

  • July 2010