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Becky Chen

Becky Chen

phone: (416) 695-8604

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. She has a well-established research program examining children in French immersion programs. This line of research has three goals: 1) identify reading difficulties at word and text levels, 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 language and 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 have reading disabilities.

Curriculum Vitae

Academic History

Ph.D., Educational Psychology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2004
Thesis: Developmental stages in learning to read Chinese characters
Advisor: Richard C. Anderson

M. Ed., Statistics and Research Design
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001

Teaching Overview

I currently teach three courses:

APHD 1286 Foundations of Language and Literacy
APHD 2296 Reading and Writing Difficulties
APHD 2293 Interpretation of Educational Research

Representative Publications

Huo, M., Koh, P. W., Cheng, Y. H., Marinova-Todd, S., & Chen, X., (accepted). The simple view of reading in French as a second language learners: A longitudinal study on the role of word reading fluency. Learning and Individual Differences. [PI]

Hipfner-Boucher, K., Pasquarella, A., Prasad, S. & Chen, X. (accepted). The development of cognate awareness in child L2/L3 learners of French in French immersion: The effects of orthographic overlap and cognate status. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research. [PI]

Al-Janaideh, R., Hipfner-Boucher, K., Cleave, P., & Chen, X., (in press). Contributions of code-based and oral language skills to Arabic and English reading comprehension in Arabic-English bilinguals in the elementary school years. The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism.

Gottardo, A., Chen, X., & Huo, M. (in press). Understanding within- and cross-language relations for language and literacy skills in bilingual learners: Evidence from the Science of Reading. Reading Research Quarterly.

Chung, S. C., Geva, E., Chen, X. & Deacon, S. H., (in press). Do we ‘laugh’ or ‘la8gh’?: Early print knowledge and its relation to learning to read in English and French. Scientific Studies of Reading.

Selvachandran, J., Kay-Raining Bird, E., DeSousa, J. & Chen, X., (in press). Special education needs in French immersion: A parental perspective of supports and challenges. The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. [PI]

Paradis, J., Soto-Corominas, A., Daskalaki, E., Chen, X., & Gottardo, A., (2021). Morphosyntactic development in first generation Arabic-English children: The effect of cognitive, age and input factors over time and across languages. Languages, 6, 51 [Open access]

Li, M., Geva, E., D’Angelo, N., Koh, P. W., Chen, X., & Gottardo, A., (2021). Exploring sources of poor reading comprehension in English Language Learners. Annals of Dyslexia, 71, 299-321.

Shakory S., Chen, X., & Deacon, H., (2021). Learning orthographic and semantic representations simultaneously during shared reading. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 64, 909-921. [PI]

Xue, J., Hu, X., Yan, R., Wang, H., Chen, X., & Li, M. (2021). Onset age of language acquisition effects in a foreign language context: Evidence from Chinese–English bilingual children. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 50, 239-261. [International Collaboration]

Kay Raining-Bird, E., Genesee, F., Sutton, A., Chen, X….et al., (2021). Access and outcomes of children with special education needs in early French immersion. Journal of Immersion and Content-Based Language Education, 9, 193-222.

Research Grants and Contracts

SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, The International Bilingual Education Project ($199,780), PI, with Alexandra Gottardo (co-I) and Eileen Wood (Collaborator) at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ludo Verhoeven and Eliane Segers at Radboud University (Co-Is), Nijmegen, Hong Li (co-I) at Beijing Normal University, Jeffery Steele (Collaborator) at University of Toronto, and Julie Wolter (Collaborator) at University of Montana, 2018-2021.

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, Ensuring Full Literacy in a Multicultural and Digital World ($2,500,000), Co-Investigator, with Janet Werker (PI) at University of British Columbia, 2020-2027.

SSHRC Partnership Grant, Child and Youth Refugee Research Coalition (CYRRC): 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.

Professional Activities

Editor-in-Chief, Annals of Dyslexia