Discrimination of English and French orthographic patterns by biliterate children
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We investigated whether young English-French biliterate children can distinguish between English and French orthographic patterns. Children in French immersion programs were asked to play a dictionary game when they were in Grade 2 and again when they were in Grade 3. They were shown pseudowords that contained either an English spelling pattern or a French spelling pattern, and they were asked to decide whether each pseudoword should go in an English dictionary or a French dictionary if it became a real word. Comparison groups of monolingual English children, monolingual French children, and English-French bilingual university students were also tested on the task. French immersion students in both grades were above chance in discriminating between the two types of pseudowords but were well below adult performance on the task. Measures obtained in kindergarten showed that early print knowledge had some ability to predict later ability to discriminate between the orthographic patterns of the two languages. Further analyses indicated that exposure to print in each language in Grades 1 to 3 was strongly related to discrimination performance. The findings are interpreted as being consistent with the statistical learning hypothesis.
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