Project: Phonological processing skills and their longitudinal relation to first and additional language literacy in isiXhosa and isiZulu speaking children


The study generated new data by assessing 140 South African primary school children three times from 2019 to 2021.

The aim of the present study was to determine the within-language and across-language relationships and longitudinal development of phonological processing skills (phonological awareness, phonological working memory and rapid automatised naming ) and literacy (letter-sound knowledge, word recognition, text reading, reading comprehension, and spelling) skills of emergent bilingual speakers of two closely related African languages (isiXhosa and isiZulu), and English from Grades 1 to 3.

A longitudinal research design was used to measure phonological processing and literacy skills at three points in time while the children were in Grade 1 (2019), the start of Grade 3 (2021), and the end of Grade 3 (2021). At the start of the project, 140 participants completed a battery of phonological processing and literacy assessments in their first language (either isiXhosa or isiZulu) and additional language, English. Existing standardised tests were used to measure English abilities. These were the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing and the Diagnostic Test of Word Reading Processes. Linguistically appropriate versions of these assessments were made for isiXhosa and isiZulu, and Early Grade Reading Assessment tasks already used in large scale data collection in South Africa were also used to measure letter reading fluency, text reading fluency and reading comprehension. Vocabulary, which was a control variable, was measured in Grade 1 using the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test.

Project Active From
April 2019 to October 2021
Project Descriptor(s)
Developmental Design
Educational Environment
Funding Agency / Grant Number
University of South Africa / Women in Research Grant

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  • Dataset: Link to summary data
    Last update: March 8, 2023
    Description: This OSF Project contains the summary statistics and correlations for the variables included in the study. The raw data is not shared. The link includes information from bilingual Xhosa-English and Zu...

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