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Xi Becky Chen

phone: (416) 978-0970
email: xi.chen.bumgardner@utoronto.ca  
email: xchenbumgardner@gmail.com
website: http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/chenlab

Department: Applied Psychology and Human Development

Research Overview

Dr. Chen's research focuses on bilingual and ELL (English Language Learner) children's language and literacy development. She is interested in how children develop literacy skills (e.g. morphological awareness, phonological awareness, orthographic processing, vocabulary, word reading, and reading comprehension) simultaneously in their first language and second language, and whether these skills transfer between the two languages. Currently, she is running a five-year SSHRC insight grant in French immersion programs in the GTA. This project has three goals: 1) identify at-risk readers in French immersion with dynamic assessment tools, 2) compare the development of English and French literacy skills between children who are native speakers of English and those who speak another language at home, and 3) examine transfer of literacy skills between English and French. She is also a co-lead of the Language, Literacy and Learning Cluster of the Child and Youth Refugee Research Coalition (CYRRC), an international coalition that conducts research on refugee children and youth. This line of research focuses on language, literacy and well-being of Arabic-speaking children, particularly refugee children. Finally, she conducts cross-cultural studies comparing the development of Chinese literacy skills between Chinese-speaking children in Canada and children in China. In applied practice, she is interested in helping bilingual children who are at-risk readers or with reading disabilities.

Curriculum Vitae


Representative Publications

Peskin, J., Comay, J., Chen, X., & Prusky, C. S. (2016). Does theory of mind in preschool predict the ability to think about a reader’s mind in elementary school compositions? A longitudinal study. Journal of Cognition and Development, 17, 396-417.

Gottardo, A., Pasquarella, A., Chen, X., & Ramirez, G. (2016). The impact of language on the relationships between phonological awareness and word reading in different scripts: A test of the psycholinguistic grain size hypothesis in bilinguals. Applied Psycholinguistics, 37, 1083-1115.

Hipfner-Boucher, K., Pasquarella, A., Chen, X., & Deacon, H. (2016). Cognate awareness in French Immersion students: Contributions to grade 2 reading comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading, 20, 389-400.

Liu, P. D., Chen, X., & Wang, Y. (2016). Visual-spatial attention and its impact on reading and spelling in Chinese children. Reading and Writing, 29, 1435-1447.

Schwartz, M., Koh, P., Chen, X., Sinke, M., & Geva, E. (2016). Through the lens of teachers in two bilingual programs: A look at early bilingual education. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 29, 141-168.

Wise, N., D’Angelo, N., & Chen, X., (2016). A school-based intervention for struggling readers in early French immersion. Reading and Writing, 29, 183-205.

Lam, K., Chen, X. & Cummins, J. (2015). To Gain or to lose: students’ English and Chinese literacy achievement in a Mandarin language bilingual program. Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 18, 96-124.

Rezzonico, S., Chen, X., Cleave, P., Greenberg, J., Hipfner-Boucher, K. et. al. (2015). Oral narratives in monolingual and bilingual children preschoolers with SLI. The International Journal of Communication and Language Disorders, 50, 830-841.

Hipfner-Boucher, K., Lam, K., Chen, X. & Deacon, H., (2015). Exploring the effects of word features on French immersion children’s ability to deconstruct morphologically complex words. Writing Systems Research, 7, 157-168. 

Hipfner-Boucher, K., Lam, K., & Chen, X., (2015). The contribution of narrative morpho-syntactic quality to reading comprehension in French immersion students. Applied Psycholinguistics, 36, 1375-1391.

Liu, P. D., Chen, X., Chung, K. K.-H., & Wang, Y., (2015). The role of visual-spatial attention in Chinese children’s reading abilities. Scientific Studies of Reading, 19, 307-324. 

Wise, N., & Chen, X., (2015). Early intervention for struggling readers in grade one French immersion. Canadian Modern Language Review, 71, 288-306. 

Stich, M., Girolametto, L., Johnson, C. J., Cleave, P.L. & Chen, X. (2015). Contextual effects on the conversations of mothers and their children with SLI. Applied Psycholinguistics, 36, 323-344. 

Au-Yeung, K., Hipfner-Boucher, K., Chen, X., Pasquarella, A., D’Angelo, N., Deacon, H., (2015). Development of English and French language and literacy skills in EL1 and ELL French immersion students in the early grades. Reading Research Quarterly, 50, 233-254. 

Pasquarella, A., Chen, X., Gottardo, A., & Geva, E., (2015). Common and language-specific processes in word reading accuracy and fluency: Comparing cross-language transfer between Spanish-English and Chinese-English bilinguals. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107, 96-110. 

Research Grants and Contracts

SSHRC Insight Development Grant, Successes and Challenges of Children Who Are Syrian Refugees: Language, Literacy and Wellbeing ($69,975), PI, with Johanne Paradis (Co-I) at University of Alberta, Alexandra Gottardo (Co-I) at Wilfrid Laurier University, Jennifer Jenkins (Co-I) at University of Toronto, Katherine Georgiades (Co-I) at McMaster University, Katrin Linder and Claudia Riehl (Collaborators) at University of Munich, 2017-2019.

SSHRC Partnership Grant, Canadian Refugee Child, Youth and Family Research Coalition: Using Research to Inform Best Practices for Language, Literacy, Learning, Social Integration, and Child and Family Wellbeing ($2,500,000), Co-Investigator, with Michael Ungar (PI) at Dalhousie University and colleagues at The Canadian Refugee Child, Youth and Families Research Coalition, 2017-2022.

SSHRC Insight Grant, The Discourse Skills of Monolingual and Bilingual School-aged Children ($365,096), Co-I, with Patricia Cleave (PI) at Dalhousie University, Elizabeth Kay-Raining Bird (Co-I) at Dalhousie University, Pierre Cormier (Co-I) at Universit de Moncton, Andrea MacLeod and Natacha Trudeau (Co-Is) at Universit de Montral, Nikolay Slavkov and Ann Sutton (Co-Is) at University of Ottawa, and Ann Norckerts (Collaborator) at SALT Software LLC, 2016-2021.

SSHRC Insight Development Grant, Dynamic Assessment of Early Immersion Literacy Learning Competences: A Cross-linguistic and Cross-national Perspective ($74,935), PI, with Esther Geva (Co-I) and Fataneh Fania (Collaborator) at University of Toronto, Alexandra Gottardo (Co-I) at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ludo Verhoeven and Eliane Segers (Co-Is) at Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands, and Kathleen Hipfner-Boucher (Collaborator) at Universit du Qubec Montral, 2015-2017.

SSHRC Insight Grant, Ensuring Reading Success for All Students in Early French Immersion, PI, with Helene Deacon at Dalhousie University ($303,323), Stefka Marinova-Todd at University of British Columbia (Co-Is), and Donald Compton at Vanderbilt University (Collaborator), 2013-2018.

Professional Activities

Editor-in-Chief, Annals of Dyslexia

Board Member, Society for the Scientific Studies of Reading