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Becky Chen

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

Chung, S. C., Chen, X., & Deacon, H. (2018) The relationship between orthographic processing and spelling in Grade 1 French immersion children. Journal of Research in Reading, 41, 290-311. DOI:10.1111/1467-9817.12104. [PI]

Koh, P. W., Chen, X., Cummins, J., & Li, J., (2017). Bilingual program outcomes in orthographically dissimilar languages. Canadian Modern Language Review, 73, 343-367. [Co-PI]

Li, H., Dronjic, V., Chen, X., Li, Y., Cheng, Y., & Wu, X., (2017). The role of semantic relatedness, phonology, and orthography in the development of Chinese primary school students' morphological awareness. Journal of Child Language, 44, 1218-1247. [International Collaboration]

Koh, P. W., Shakory, S., Chen, X., & Deacon, S.H. (2017). Morphology and spelling in French: A comparison of at-risk readers and typically developing children. Dyslexia, 23, 406-427. [PI]

D’Angelo, N., Hipfner-Boucher, K., & Chen, X. (2017). Predicting growth in English and French vocabulary: The facilitating effects of morphological and cognate awareness, Developmental Psychology, 53, 1242-1255. [PI].

Cuza, A., Miller, L., Pasquarella, A., & Chen, X., (2017). The role of literacy instruction in the development of Spanish as a heritage language during childhood: A service learning approach. The Heritage Language Journal, 14, 100-123. [Co-I]

Chung, S. C., Koh, P. W., Deacon, H., & Chen, X., (2017). Learning to read in English and French: Emergent readers in French immersion. Topics in Language Disorders, 37, 136-153. [PI]

D’Angelo, N., & Chen, X. (2017). Language profiles of poor comprehenders in English and French. Journal of Research in Reading, 40, 153-168. [PI]

Mirza, A., Gottardo, A, & Chen, X., (2017). Reading in multilingual learners of Urdu (L1), English (L2) and Arabic (L3). Reading and Writing, 30, 187-207.

Gottardo, A., Koh, P. W., Chen, X., & Jia, F. (2017). Models of English and Chinese word reading of adolescent Chinese-English bilinguals. Reading and Writing, 30, 1377-1406. [PI]

Jia, F., Gottardo, A., Chen, X., Koh, P., & Pasquarella, A. (2016). English proficiency and acculturation among Chinese immigrant youth in Canada: A reciprocal relationship. Journal of Multilingual & Multicultural Development, 37, 774-782. [Collaborator]

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. [Collaborator]

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. [Collaborator]

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. [PI]

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. [International Collaboration]

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. [International Collaboration]

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. [PI]

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, 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