The development of morphological awareness in Chinese ESL students

Yi Fen Yeh*, R. M. Joshi, Xuejun Ryan Ji

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Similar to English words, Chinese words can be viewed as the combination of root morphemes with either grammatical affixes, word-formation affixes, or other free morphemes. Therefore, it is logical to argue that Chinese speakers develop knowledge about inflectional and derivational morphemes similar to speakers of English language. To test this research hypothesis, 287 junior high school students (grades 7-9) were administered morphological awareness tests in both Chinese and English. Results from the Structural Equation Modeling showed that both inflectional and derivational awareness of Chinese are necessary (along with an awareness of compound words) to a construction of Chinese morphological awareness. The students' awareness of Chinese inflection and derivation is partially explained by their awareness of Chinese compound words, but there are still features that are uniquely inherent to Chinese inflection and derivation (in contrast to their counterparts in English). The overall transferring coefficient from Chinese MA to English MA in this study was.56, which suggests that higher levels of Chinese MA are associated with higher levels of English MA. Inductive reasoning can be as important as Chinese MA to the development of English MA, since it supports learners dealing with morphological features with which they are less familiar (English derivations) and that share many connections (such as English compounding).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-60
Number of pages10
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Oct 1


  • Compound word
  • Cross language transfer
  • Derivation
  • English
  • Inflection
  • Mandarin
  • Morphological awareness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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