Reading and Writing

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 481–501 | Cite as

Longitudinal correlates of reading comprehension difficulties in Chinese children

  • Juan Zhang
  • Catherine McBride-Chang
  • Anita M.-Y. Wong
  • Twila Tardif
  • Hua Shu
  • Yuping Zhang


The present study explored the early predictors of reading comprehension difficulties in Chinese children. We originally recruited 290 Beijing and 154 Hong Kong children and further selected from each sample those (30 from Beijing and 22 from Hong Kong sample) in the lowest 25 % on reading comprehension tests across the last two consecutive testing years (Beijing: ages 9 and 10; Hong Kong: ages 8 and 9) as poor comprehenders. These groups were matched to a group of children from the same sample whose reading comprehension was above 30 % across the two final years and matched on mothers’ education levels, age, nonverbal reasoning at age 4, and Chinese word reading across the same final two consecutive years. We then examined early linguistic/cognitive skills at ages 5–9 that could distinguish the poor and typically developing groups in each city separately. Compared to the control group, poor comprehenders from both samples performed significantly and consistently worse on word reading at early ages, and generally worse on morphological compounding awareness, phonological awareness, and vocabulary knowledge from ages 6 and onwards. In addition, lexical tone sensitivity across ages and grammatical sensitivity (administered at age 5 only) failed to distinguish the two groups for the Beijing sample but did for Hong Kong children.


Chinese children Grammatical sensitivity Lexical tone sensitivity Morphological awareness Reading comprehension difficulty Vocabulary skill 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan Zhang
    • 1
  • Catherine McBride-Chang
    • 2
  • Anita M.-Y. Wong
    • 3
  • Twila Tardif
    • 4
  • Hua Shu
    • 5
  • Yuping Zhang
    • 5
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of MacauTaipaMacau
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong
  3. 3.Faculty of EducationThe University of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong
  4. 4.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  5. 5.State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and LearningBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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