SCET Journal 2020/2021

Language Matters »

Qiao used all the cueing systems to read all the text, even though these different systems were not evenly distributed. One language influenced how the bilingual readers read in another language (Good- man et al., 2005). Pinyin is the sounding system in Chinese and uses the same English letters with four different intonation change marks. Therefore, emer- gent bilingual readers like Qiao often rely on pinyin to read aloud the Chinese text. It helped her to pro- nounce; however, it did not help her to understand the text well. When Qiao read Chinese text without pinyin, there were not enough sound clues and she shifted to using context clues for meaning- making. There is no doubt that language plays a crucial role in the meaning construction process, and readers re- spond to text differently based on their backgrounds, life experiences, and other sociocultural factors (Rosenblatt, 1993). This study shows that Qiao remembered more details and related to the English text better than the Chinese text. Although her home language is Chinese, the monolingual community and larger English-only context led to English becom-

ing her dominant language. In addition, Qiao read a lot in English and became more proficient reader in English. The sound and grammar heavy instruction in the Chinese curriculum may have affected her approaching Chinese texts differently. This case study has practical implications for teachers. First, teachers should consider bilingual readers’ reading strategies as a whole and find effec- tive ways of developing their biliteracy skills. English language arts teachers and second language teach- ers could communicate more and support bilingual readers’ reading together. Second, Chinese pinyin may help emergent bilingual readers to pronounce the words. However, teachers need to encourage readers to use all cueing systems for meaning mak- ing. Bilingual teachers can invite all bilingual chil- dren to join the club of readers (Smith, 2006) in both languages. Finally, teachers can get to know bilingual readers’ linguistic and cultural backgrounds, life experiences, and other factors that could impact their biliteracy development.


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