Abstract: Learning to read involves learning to read words and learning to understand text. For second language learners, learning to read in their second language involves additional components such as understanding the oral language represented by the script, learning new, sometimes quite different sound systems (phonemes) as well as adapting skills learned in the first language to new scripts or alphabetic rules. This talk will touch on several studies examining commonalities and differences between groups of second language learners as they learn to read and comprehend grade appropriate material. The studies are designed to test theories in reading acquisition, including the psycholinguistic grain size theory, which is used to explain the acquisition of word reading skills, and the simple view of reading, which is used to explain the acquisition of reading comprehension skills. The development of English reading skills was examined in English learners with Chinese and Spanish as a first language from a wide age range, from elementary school to high school.
Alexandra Gottardo received her Ph.D. at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Developmental area of the Psychology Department at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. She has published research in the area of the role of phonological awareness in reading. Her recent work focuses on the development of word reading and reading comprehension in second language learners, including the role of first and second language skills.