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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

Burchell, D., Hipfner-Boucher, K., Selvachandran, J., Cleave, P., & Chen, X., (in press). A mixed-methods analysis of oral language skills of English-stream and French immersion students. Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics. [PI]

Linder, K., Hipfner-Boucher, K., Yamashita, A., Riehl, C., Ramdan, M., & Chen, X., (in press). Specific needs in language and literacy learning of refugee children: A comparison of Germany and Canada. Applied Psycholinguistics. [PI]

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

Al Janaideh, R., Gottardo, A., Tibi, S., Paradis, J., & Chen, X., (in press). The role of word reading and oral language skills in reading comprehension in Syrian refugee children. Applied Psycholinguistics. [PI]

Li, Y., Chen, X., Li, H., Sheng, X., Chen, L., Richardson, U., & Lyytinen, H., (in press). A computer-based Pinyin intervention for disadvantaged children in China: Effects on Pinyin skills, phonological awareness, and character reading. Dyslexia.

Paradis, J., Soto-Corominas, A., Chen, X., & Gottardo, A. (in press). How language environment, age and cognitive capacity support the bilingual development of Syrian refugee children recently arrived in Canada. Applied Psycholinguistics.

Gottardo, A., Amin, N., Al Janaideh, R., Amin, A., Chen, X., & Paradis, J., (in press). Word reading in English and Arabic in children who are Syrian refugees. Applied Psycholinguistics.

Krenca, K., Hipfner-Boucher, K, & Chen, X., (in press). Grammatical gender-marking ability of multilingual children in French immersion. International Journal of Bilingualism. [PI]

Li, M., Koh, P. -W., Geva, E., Joshi, M., & Chen, X., (in press). The Componential Model of Reading in English Language Learners. Journal of Educational Psychology.

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

Liu, P. D., & Chen, X., (2020). Visual search and reading comprehension in Chinese children: The mediations of word detection and Chinese character reading. Reading and Writing, 33, 1163-1182. [International Collaboration]

Krenca, K., Gottardo, A., Geva, E., & Chen, X. (2020). English phonological specificity predicts early French reading difficulty in emerging bilingual children. Annals of Dyslexia, 70, 27-42. [PI]

Koh, P. W., Ku, Y.-M. & Chen, X., (2020). Examining Chinese vocabulary knowledge in Taiwanese first and second graders using confirmatory factor analysis. Reading and Writing, 33, 293-312. [International Collaboration]

D’Angelo, N., Krenca, K., & Chen, X., (2020). The overlap of poor reading comprehension in English and French. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, Article 120.

Krenca, K., Segers, E., Chen, X., Shakory, S., Steele, J., & Verhoeven, L. (2020). Phonological specificity relates to phonological awareness and reading ability in English-French bilingual children. Reading and Writing, 33, 267-291. [PI]

Chung, S. C., Chen, X., Commissaire, E., Krenca, K., & Deacon, S. H. (2019) Testing the self-teaching hypothesis in children learning to read French as a second language. Writing Systems Research, 11:1, 1-11. [PI]

Lee, K., & Chen, X., (2019). An Emergent Interaction between reading fluency and vocabulary in the prediction of reading comprehension among French immersion elementary students. Reading and Writing, 32, 1657-1679. [PI]

Lam, K., Chen, X., & Deacon, H. (2019). The role of awareness of cross-language suffix correspondences in second language reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 55, 29-43. [PI]

Deacon, H., Mimeau, C., Chung, S. C., & Chen, X. (2019). Young readers’ skill in learning spellings and meanings of words during independent reading. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 181, 56-74. [PI]

Chung, S. C., Chen, X., & Geva, E. (2019). Deconstructing and reconstructing cross-language transfer. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 50, 149-161.

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