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Dr. Becky Chen - Multilingualism and Literacy Lab
Dr. Becky Chen - Multilingualism and Literacy Lab

Dr. Becky Chen-Bumgardner


Dr. Becky Chen's CV


I am Becky. I grew up in China and obtained a BA in English and an MA in Applied Linguistics at a Chinese university in Wuhan, China, before I attended graduate school at University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. There I obtained an MEd degree in Statistics and Research Design and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. I studied how children learn to read and have continued that research interest until today. After I finished graduate school in the States in 2004, I moved to Toronto, and became a faculty member at OISE. I am currently an associate professor in the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development.


At OISE, my research has focused on monolingual and bilingual children's language and literacy development. In recent years, most of the studies conducted in my lab involve children in French immersion programs, including both English-French bilinguals as well as trilingual children who speak a minority language at home. We have used both quantitative and qualitative methods. We administer a large battery of language and literacy measures to children, and we also interview parents and children about their experience within the French immersion school system. Broadly speaking, this line of research has three goals. The first goal is to evaluate the language, literacy and academic performance of different subgroups (e.g., English first language children and English language learners). The second goal is to establish an extensive reading model by exploring the relationships between various language and cognitive factors (non-verbal reasoning, parental education, vocabulary, metalinguistic skills etc) and reading. The final goal is to identify at-risk readers and provide them with timely interventions. Within the scope of the big project, my graduate students carry out many interesting studies to explore children's language and cognitive development. 


My other research interest lies in Chinese children's language and literacy development. Being a native speaker of Chinese myself, I am always fascinated by processes involved in learning to read Chinese, a language that is very different from English and other alphabetic languages. My research in this area includes both Chinese-speakers learning to read Chinese and English. I have collaborations with scholars in Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mainland China on these topics. 


I am married with two boys. The older one is almost 9 and the younger one is 4. The younger one has ASD (autistic spectrum disorder). He has received a lot of assessment and speech and occupational therapy sessions. Because of this, I also have a lot of first-hand experience with autism. Despite his disability, he is lovely and gifted in some areas---he can put together complex puzzles and spell hundreds of words already!

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