About the Project

The project focuses on understanding the role of phonological awareness in word reading proficiency among early primary school children. Phonological awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate the sounds of a language, crucial for developing skills in mapping letters onto the sounds they represent, leading to quick and precise word recognition or word reading fluency. In collaboration between  the Multilingualism & Literacy Lab at OISE, and the Louis Riel School District in Manitoba, the project team aims to address a series of research questions using the phonological awareness data. These questions explore the evidence of growth in phonological awareness within grades, differences in student performance across English and French immersion programs, the effect of demographic factors on phonological processing skills, and whether these effects vary between English and French immersion programs. Additional questions address the relationship between phonological awareness and reading fluency, and the influence of demographic factors on reading fluency. The findings will inform policy and practice at the divisional level to promote educational equity.

The project involves several key collaborators, each bringing unique expertise to the table:

A professor at OISE/University of Toronto, Dr. Becky (Xi) Chen has significant research experience in examining the language and literacy development of children in French immersion programs. She has led four large-scale projects and has numerous publications in this area. Dr. Chen will oversee the project and utilize the results to establish a dyslexia screening program in the school district.

A research scientist in the Department of Applied Psychology & Human Development, Dr. Hipfner-Boucher has worked with Dr. Chen on research involving French immersion children for many years. As a native speaker of French with extensive research expertise in the field, she will be responsible for formulating research questions and interpreting the results of data analysis.

A PhD candidate under Dr. Chen's supervision, Krystina is a highly proficient French-English bilingual speaker and a French teacher in Montreal, Canada. She will interpret the results of the analysis and disseminate the findings to teachers.

Also a PhD student under Dr. Chen's supervision, Songtao will carry out the data analysis for the project.

The Divisional Principal of Instructional Services for the Louis Riel School Division in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Ron Cadez has 18 years of leadership.

Kindergarten Intervention

As class instruction continued in French, intervention methods were given in English to struggling students. Up to two rounds of intervention were given based on need and students' PA was tested at three timepoints.

Rhyming and Initial Sound Interventions

  • 15 minutes daily
  • 1-2 weeks

Syllable Interventions

  • 15 minutes daily
  • 3-4 weeks

What the Study Found

Children had Improved Phonological Awareness

Results showed an increase in rhyme and initial sound awareness as well as in syllable segmentation. PA learned through the interventions improved French reading the following year.

Early Intervention and Cross-Language Transfer

Reading difficulties can be identified even in Kindergarten and English PA influences reading in French. It is most effective when PA is taught explicitly and in detail in classroom settings.

Response to Intervention Pyramid

Together with core classroom and targeted small group instruction and intensive individual intervention, the most significant improvements could be seen. 

What Does This Mean? - PA Interventions & French Immersion

  • Early identification and intervention is crucial and effective for struggling students in French Immersion.
  • Expansion of this method into other school districts could benefit the students, teachers and caregivers.

News & Research Articles

Articles highlight the impact and influence of the Manitoba Project, from research articles to mainstream media. 

Disarming Dyslexia: OISE researchers help revive, improve intervention program in Winnipeg

by Perry King, OISE (November 25, 2021)

When Professor Becky Chen and Krystina Raymond got the call that a school in Winnipeg needed their help, they sprung to action.

Over the last year, the researchers, from Chen’s Multilingualism and Literacy Lab at OISE, have worked with École Howden, a K-6 French Immersion school, to develop their dyslexia intervention program – which sought to identify primary students experiencing dyslexia and design plans to assist their literacy education.

Serving about 200 students initially, the program will be expanding across the Louis Riel School Division, the board that administers École Howden and numerous French Immersion and English-only elementary schools in Winnipeg. The program can potentially assist over 2,300 students annually.

It is an effort encapsulated in a podcast produced by Raymond and the MLL team.

Project Infographic

The Manitoba Project - Early Reading Interventions in French Immersion

This infographic, hosted on Prezi, details the Manitoba Project, including what the study found and what the findings mean.

You can also see the French-language version of this infographic.

A grey circle showing a white outline of a computer monitor in its centre, representing a full-screen view.

To view this infographic in full-screen mode, please select the icon that appears in the upper-right corner when hovering your cursor over the infographic (for viewers on desktop devices) or after tapping on the infographic (for viewers on mobile devices).


Project Videos

A brief overview of what the Manitoba Project sets out to achieve. Available in English and French voiceovers.

Manitoba Project (English)

English video, script: Chloe Tsui
Infographic: Ayalina (Jace) Jonathan
Download the Manitoba Project (English) Transcript

Le Projet Manitoba (French)

French video and translation: Krystina Raymond
Infographic: Ayalina (Jace) Jonathan
Download Le Projet Manitoba (French) Transcript

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