Morphological Awareness and Word Learning in First and Second Language
Jie Zhang

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Western Kentucky University

Primary Discipline

Literacy and/or English/Language Education
Morphological awareness (i.e., understanding of complex words as combinations of meaningful units) is important for vocabulary growth and reading comprehension. However, how children use morphology (word parts) in learning the meanings of new words is less understood. The current study aims to understand the mechanism underlying the relationship of morphological awareness to English vocabulary and reading comprehension in native English speakers and English language learners. Using incidental word learning and paired associate word learning tasks, I will examine (a) whether children can use morphological cues to learn the meanings of new words with and without context, and (b) whether morphological awareness facilitates word learning ability, which in turn, contributes to vocabulary development and reading comprehension. Findings will enrich the theories of reading development and bilingualism, and provide practical implications for effective vocabulary instruction in first and second language.
About Jie Zhang
Jie Zhang is an Assistant Professor of Educational Research at Western Kentucky University. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on cognitive and psycholinguistic processes involved language and literacy development and the role of classroom discussion in children’s language, reading, and reasoning skills development, especially for English language learners. She has studied morphological awareness from perspectives of cross-language comparison and transfer, and word learning among native and nonnative Chinese learners. She aims to conduct research that can inform instruction and policy and is interested in developing and evaluating literacy intervention programs for diverse student populations.

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