Beginning to read in Vietnamese: kindergarten precursors to first grade fluency and reading comprehension

Abstract

Measures of decoding and oral language have been shown to predict early reading comprehension across a wide variety of languages, though the timeframe and strength of the predictions vary by orthographic depth. This study is the first to examine predictors of early reading in Vietnamese, a transparent orthography of Romanized letters and diacritics. Eighty-two children in Hanoi, Vietnam, completed measures of decoding and oral language in kindergarten (phonological awareness, PA; rapid automatized naming, RAN; receptive and expressive vocabulary) and measures of decoding and reading comprehension in first grade. Average performance at the end of first grade, after just 1 year of formal instruction, was near ceiling on word reading but more variable on nonword and text reading. Kindergarten PA and RAN (but not vocabulary) predicted first-grade decoding after controlling for maternal education and kindergarten decoding, and PA was a stronger predictor than RAN (10% vs. 4% of unique variance). The best predictors of first grade reading comprehension were first-grade decoding (47% of unique variance) and kindergarten expressive vocabulary (4% of unique variance) after controlling for maternal education. Overall, Vietnamese children became accurate and efficient decoders after 1 year of instruction. Findings from RAN and PA suggest their utility in guiding differentiated instruction on decoding. Kindergarten vocabulary, which differed as a function of maternal education, significantly predicted first-grade comprehension.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Notes

  1. 1.

    Participants in the present study were from the No Risk and Some Risk groups, indicating typical development and/or minimal risk for developmental language disorder. For language diagnostic procedures, see Pham et al. (2019).

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health – National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders under Grant K23DC014750. We thank the many members of the international research team from Hanoi National University of Education, Hanoi National College of Education, Training and Development Center for Special Education, Vietnam National Academy of Education Management, and the San Diego State University Bilingual Development in Context Research Laboratory for assistance with data collection and data entry. We appreciate the participation of kindergarten programs, children and families.

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Appendices

Appendix 1: Stimuli for word recognition task

Item Raw Ln + 1 English Item Raw Ln + 1 English
1. và 23,695 10.07 and 26. lên 4911 8.50 up
2. có 18,907 9.85 yes 27. cả 4359 8.38 both
3. đã 14,009 9.55 already 28. để 4083 8.31 to
4. của 11,418 9.34 of 29. vào 3762 8.23 enter
5. một 8110 9.00 one 30. này 3758 8.23 this
6. đến 8021 8.99 to 31. năm 3711 8.22 year
7. các 7866 8.97 the 32. ra 3635 8.20 out
8. như 7521 8.93 as 33. về 3615 8.19 about
9. ông 7423 8.91 man 34. họ 3591 8.19 them
10. không 7383 8.91 no 35. nước 3589 8.19 water
11. trong 7244 8.89 in 36. trường 3576 8.18 school
12. ở 7219 8.88 at 37. khi 3540 8.17 when
13. cho 7159 8.88 for 38. mình 3502 8.16 body
14. nhà 6657 8.80 house 39. tại 3248 8.09 in
15. làm 6544 8.79 do 40. nhất 3173 8.06 best
16. người 6487 8.78 people 41. phải 3141 8.05 right
17. được 6395 8.76 can 42. chỉ 2939 7.99 just
18. con 6284 8.75 child 43. thấy 2932 7.98 see
19. tôi 5926 8.69 me 44. rồi 2416 7.79 done
20. sẽ 5818 8.67 will 45. cái 2282 7.73 the
21. ta 5596 8.63 we 46. cô 2162 7.68 miss
22. nhiều 5486 8.61 many 47. nếu 2147 7.67 if
23. những 5451 8.60 these 48. tới 1972 7.59 next
24. nam 5413 8.60 south 49. giờ 1944 7.57 hour
25. với 5296 8.57 with 50. ăn 1885 7.54 eat
  1. Items are listed from most to least frequent. Raw counts were calculated from the Corpora of Vietnamese Texts (Pham et al., 2008) which consists of over one million Vietnamese words collected from newspapers and children’s books. The English gloss serves as a reference point only as certain Vietnamese word classes (i.e., classifiers) cannot be directly translated into English

Appendix 2: Stimuli for nonword recognition task

Item Raw Ln + 1 Item Raw Ln + 1
1. ná 5 1.79 26. găn 0 0
2. thạ 0 0 27. tón 0 0
3. mêm 0 0 28. tợ 0 0
4. òn 2 1.10 29. phậm 0 0
5. ăm 4 1.61 30. hánh 0 0
6. nhạ 0 0 31. hãn 18 2.94
7. thẻm 0 0 32. ọa 0 0
8. đỏi 0 0 33. hiệt 0 0
9. rĩn 0 0 34. nỏi 0 0
10. điệm 0 0 35. hìn 0 0
11. xọa 0 0 36. gó 0 0
12. hon 31 3.47 37. lêm 0 0
13. giàn 60 4.11 38. quạy 0 0
14. gáng 0 0 39. đươn 0 0
15. choa 2 1.10 40. ngãy 0 0
16. quẽ 0 0 41. bơn 0 0
17. mun 1 0.69 42. sèo 0 0
18. hêng 0 0 43. bũng 0 0
19. phừ 0 0 44. hị 0 0
20. chảu 0 0 45. hía 0 0
21. dụn 0 0 46. xứi 0 0
22. đẹ 0 0 47. ện 0 0
23. hản 0 0 48. khẹ 0 0
24. ém 18 2.94 49. trủn 0 0
25. giõ 0 0 50. khưng 0 0
  1. Frequency counts were calculated using the Corpora of Vietnamese Texts (Pham et al., 2008). All but 9 items had a frequency of zero, demonstrating that items were not real words. The 9 items with raw counts greater than zero were obscure (low frequency)

Appendix 3: Reading passage 1

  • Bà cho bé Mai một con gà rất đẹp.

  • Mỗi sáng, Mai đều chờ gà gáy.

  • Nhưng nó không gáy.

  • Một buổi trưa, con gà kêu: “Cục ta cục tác.”

  • Mẹ nói với Mai: “Con gà mái của con mới đẻ trứng đấy!”

  • Bây giờ bé Mai đã biết vì sao con gà này lại không gáy ò ó o.

  1. 1.

    Ai cho Mai con gà?

  2. 2.

    Mỗi sáng, ai chờ con gà gáy?

  3. 3.

    Con gà của Mai kêu thế nào?

  4. 4.

    Con gà của Mai kêu cục ta cục tác vào buổi nào?

  5. 5.

    Mẹ nói gì với Mai?

  6. 6.

    Vì sao con gà của Mai không gáy?

  • English translation

  • Grandma gave Mai a very pretty chicken.

  • Every morning, Mai waited for it to crow.

  • But it did not crow.

  • One afternoon, the chicken said “buck buck buck”.

  • Mom told Mai: “Your hen just laid an egg!”

  • Now, Mai knows why this chicken does not crow.

  1. 1.

    Who gave Mai the chicken?

  2. 2.

    Every morning, who waited for the chicken to crow?

  3. 3.

    How did Mai’s chicken sound?

  4. 4.

    When did Mai’s chicken say buck buck buck?

  5. 5.

    What did mom say to Mai?

  6. 6.

    Why didn’t Mai’s chicken crow?

Passage is from the Vietnamese version (Vu et al., 2016) of the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA: Gove & Wetterberg, 2011) used to measure text reading fluency and reading comprehension.

Appendix 4: Reading passage 2

  • Sang và con mèo xám

  • Tên tôi là Sang, vừa tròn tám tuổi. Em trai

  • tôi là Châu, bốn tuổi. Chúng tôi thích chơi đùa

  • với con mèo nhà mình. Con mèo màu xám,

  • to xù và thích trốn sau tủ.

  • Một hôm, con mèo biến đâu mất. Chúng tôi

  • nghĩ nó đang chơi trốn tìm,

  • nhưng không thấy nó ở những chỗ thường chơi.

  • Vì thế,chúng tôi lục khắp nhà để tìm con mèo.

  • Cuối cùng, chúng tôi thấy nó ở gầm giường,

  • nhưng nó không chỉ có một mình! Nó đẻ ba con

  • mèo con: hai con màu xám, một con màu trắng.

  • Khi chúng tôi kể về những con mèo con,

  • bố mẹ nói mẹ cũng sẽ sinh em.

  • Chúng tôi sắp có một em gái!

  1. 1.

    Ai đang kể câu chuyện này?

  2. 2.

    Vì sao con mèo to xù?

  3. 3.

    Em trai của Sang tên là gì?

  4. 4.

    Sang và Châu thích làm gì?

  5. 5.

    Tại sao Sang và Châu nói con mèo không ở đó một mình?

  6. 6.

    Theo con tại sao con mèo biến đi mất một lúc?

  7. 7.

    Con mèo đẻ mấy con?

  8. 8.

    Sang và Châu tìm thấy con mèo ở đâu?

  • English translation

  • Sang and the grey cat

  • My name is Sang, I am eight years old. My younger brother

  • is Chau, four years old. We like to play

  • with our house cat. The cat is gray,

  • big and likes hiding behind shelves.

  • One day, the cat disappeared. We

  • thought it was playing hide and seek,

  • but we did not see it in the places it usually plays.

  • So we searched everywhere in the house for a cat.

  • Finally, we found it under the bed,

  • But it is not alone! It gave birth to three

  • kittens: two were grey, one was white.

  • When we told our parents about the kittens,

  • they said that mother will also be giving birth.

  • We are about to have a little sister!

  1. 1.

    Who is telling this story?

  2. 2.

    Why is the cat big?

  3. 3.

    What is name of Sang’s younger brother?

  4. 4.

    What do Sang and Chau like to do?

  5. 5.

    Why did Sang and Chau say the cat was not there alone?

  6. 6.

    Why do you think the cat disappeared for a while?

  7. 7.

    How many kittens did the cat have?

  8. 8.

    Where did Sang and Chau find the cat?

Passage is from the Vietnamese version (Vu et al., 2016) of the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA: Gove & Wetterberg, 2011) used to measure text reading fluency and reading comprehension.

Appendix 5: Phonological awareness measure in Vietnamese (PhAM-V)

Section and Instructions Target response
Ghép Tiếng [Blending]  
Con sẽ nghe các phần của những từ riêng biệt. Con hãy nối các phần thành từ.
[You will hear parts of a word. Connect the parts to say the word.]
Practice: cà…chua cà chua
1. bàn …ghế bàn ghế
2. bác …sĩ bác sĩ
3. áo… dài áo dài
4. dưa….hấu dưa hấu
Practice: kính…thiên…văn kính thiên văn
5. xanh…da…trời xanh da trời
6. câu…lạc…bộ câu lạc bộ
7. bánh…mì…thịt bánh mì thịt
8. hình… tam… giác hình tam giác
Practice: b…ướm bướm
9. h…ọc học
10. s…ữa sữa
11. g…ạo gạo
12. đ…ọc đọc
Nhận thức thanh điệu [Tone detection]  
Bây giờ con sẽ nghe bốn từ. Con hãy nói từ nào khác hẳn so với các từ còn lại.
[Now you will hear four words. Say the word that is different from the others.]
Practice: to, ti, té, ta
Practice: mở, mủ, mả, mẹ mẹ
1. nô, nỉ, no, na nỉ
2. kẹ, kị, kí, kệ
3. hẹ, hệ, họ, hà
4. rỉ, rỏ, ra, rổ ra
5. vù, vo, vi, ve
6. xo, xu, xa, xè
Phân chia [Segmentation]  
Nói …. Bây giờ nói … mà không nói ….
[Say …. Now say … without ….]
Practice: xe đạp…xe đạp
Practice: máy bay …bay máy
1. gia đình…đình gia
2. quần áo…áo quần
3. trường học…học trường
4. nhà cửa…nhà cửa
Practice: hướng dẫn viên…viên hướng dẫn
5. kính thiên văn…kính thiên văn
6. mũ bảo hiểm…hiểm mũ bảo
7. câu lạc bộ…lạc câu bộ
8. câu trả lời…trả câu lời
Practice: tìm…t ìm
9. chăn…ch ăn
10. thông…th ông
11. nhân…nh ân
12. bút…b út
Bây giờ con sẽ nghe bốn từ. Con hãy nói từ nào khác hẳn so với các từ còn lại.
[Now you will here four words. Say the word that is different from the others.]
Practice: banh, xanh, tanh, leo leo
Practice: hâm, loa, xâm, câm loa
1. náo, triết, miết, viết náo
2. sinh, minh, tôi, đinh tôi
3. pháp, táo, ngáp, nháp táo
4. mỗi, bữa, sữa, nữa mỗi
5. ghe, lông, trông, không ghe
6. hoà, loà, vần, xoà vần

Appendix 6: Receptive vocabulary

  Item English translation Raw frequency Ln + 1
Practice A Tiền Money 1196 7.09
Practice B Đường Road 1144 7.04
1 Bọ cạp Scorpion 1 0.69
2 Bút màu Crayons 2 1.10
3 Kính hiển vi Microscope 2 1.10
4 Chữ nhật Rectangle 2 1.10
5 Cằm Chin 4 1.61
6 Nha sĩ Dentist 4 1.61
7 Bong bóng Balloon 5 1.79
8 Diaper 5 1.79
9 Chanh Lemon/Lime 7 2.08
10 Ngựa vằn Zebra 8 2.20
11 Tôm hùm Lobster 13 2.64
12 Con nhím Porcuppine 14 2.71
13 Chìa khoá Keys 15 2.77
14 Con cua Crab 17 2.89
15 Tê giác Rhinocerous 19 3.00
16 Cá voi Whale 19 3.00
17 Nấm Mushroom 25 3.26
18 Nông trại Farm 25 3.26
19 Phong bì Envelope 29 3.40
20 Sách Book 29 3.40
21 Noodles 30 3.43
22 Lâu đài Castle 30 3.43
23 Vòi Hose 31 3.47
24 Gối Pillow 32 3.50
25 Giếng Well 34 3.56
26 Chuối Banana 35 3.58
27 Dây chuyền Necklace 37 3.64
28 Lá cờ Flag 38 3.66
29 Con sói Wolf 40 3.71
30 Con nai Deer 42 3.76
31 Quà Gift/Present 61 4.13
32 Bếp Stove 69 4.25
33 Cá sấu Alligator 70 4.26
34 Mây Cloud 74 4.32
35 Đậu Beans 74 4.32
36 Bowl 88 4.49
37 Tóc Hair 97 4.58
38 Con ong Bee 105 4.66
39 Cái thang Ladder 106 4.67
40 Xương Bone 136 4.92
41 Cơm Rice 157 5.06
42 Trống Drum 167 5.12
43 Mưa Rain 180 5.20
44 Quần Pants 198 5.29
45 Lỗ tai Ear 270 5.60
46 Giấy Paper 272 5.61
47 Khăn Towel 273 5.61
48 Con trai Boy 292 5.68
49 Con gà Chicken 293 5.68
50 Leaf 294 5.69
51 Con mèo Cat 306 5.73
52 Bác sĩ Doctor 339 5.83
53 Con chuột Mouse 360 5.89
54 Áo Shirt 369 5.91
55 Con chim Bird 407 6.01
56 Con gấu Bear 474 6.16
57 Con thỏ Rabbit 480 6.18
58 Vua King 549 6.31
59 Bàn Table 549 6.31
60 Con cá Fish 632 6.45
  1. Items ranged from low to high frequency and were administered in random order

Appendix 7: Expressive vocabulary stimuli

  Item English translation Raw Frequency Ln + 1
Practice A Con chó Dog 272 5.61
Practice B Ghế Chair 212 5.36
1 Xe lửa/tàu lửa/tàu điện Train 1 0.69
2 Con công Peacock 1 0.69
3 La bàn/bàn ủi Iron 2 1.10
4 Xe cứu thương/xe cấp cứu Ambulance 2 1.10
5 Con cá ngựa Seahorse 2 1.10
6 Cái ô/cây dù Umbrella 2 1.10
7 Chim cánh cụt Penguin 4 1.61
8 Máy chụp hình/máy chụp ảnh Camera 5 1.79
9 Lược Comb 5 1.79
10 Sở thú/Vườn thú/Vườn bách thú Zoo 5 1.79
11 Mắt kính/mắt kiếng Glasses 6 1.95
12 Trạm xăng/cây xăng Gas station 6 1.95
13 Kim cương Diamond 6 1.95
14 Lính cứu hoả/Người cứu hoả Fireman 9 2.30
15 Nến/đèn cầy Candle 10 2.40
16 (Con) ốc sên Snail 10 2.40
17 (Con) chuột túi Kangaroo 12 2.56
18 (Con) bọ rùa Ladybug 14 2.71
19 (Máy bay) trực thăng Helicopter 16 2.83
20 (Con) thiên nga Swan 18 2.94
21 Quạt Fan 22 3.14
22 Yếm Bib 24 3.22
23 (Con) ruồi Fly 28 3.37
24 Kẹo Candy 28 3.37
25 (Con) nhện Spider 34 3.56
26 Tim Heart 35 3.58
27 Râu Beard 38 3.66
28 Cửa sổ Window 48 3.89
29 (Con) lạc đà Camel 49 3.91
30 (Quả) dâu/(trái) dâu Strawberry 52 3.97
31 (Quả) táo/(trái) táo/(trái) bôm Apple 64 4.17
32 Đinh/ốc Nail/Screw 68 4.23
33 (Con) đại bàng Eagle 76 4.34
34 Em bé Baby 78 4.37
35 Não/óc Brain 81 4.41
36 Điã/dĩa Plate 88 4.49
37 Đồng hồ Watch 90 4.51
38 Ngô/Bắp Corn 103 4.64
39 Giường Bed 110 4.71
40 (Con) lợn/(con) heo Pig 151 5.02
41 (Con) ngựa Horse 153 5.04
42 (Con) dao Knife 153 5.04
43 Ly/cốc Glass/Cup 173 5.16
44 (Con) cú Owl 213 5.37
45 Máy bay Airplane 254 5.54
46 Núi Mountain 272 5.61
47 (Con) rắn/(con) tranh Snake 281 5.64
48 Bánh (ngọt) Cake 292 5.68
49 (Con) hổ/(con) cọp Tiger 364 5.90
50 Thuyền/tàu Ship/boat 622 6.43
51 Kéo Scissors 701 6.55
52 Cây Tree 961 6.87
53 (Con) kiến Ant 973 6.88
54 Tất/vớ Sock 1366 7.22
55 Xe/xe hơi/xe ô tô/ô tô Car 1539 7.34
56 Tay Hand 1732 7.46
57 Hoa/bông Flower 2045 7.62
58 Cầu Bridge 2165 7.68
59 Hình/tranh Picture 2204 7.70
60 Nhà House 6645 8.80
  1. Items ranged from low to high frequency and were administered in random order. Parentheses indicate words that can be included in the child’s response (e.g., classifiers) but are not required for full credit. Back slashes separate words that can vary by regional dialect and are considered correct

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Pham, G.T., Snow, C.E. Beginning to read in Vietnamese: kindergarten precursors to first grade fluency and reading comprehension. Read Writ (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-020-10066-w

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Keywords

  • Early reading
  • Phonological awareness
  • Rapid automatized naming
  • Reading acquisition
  • Reading comprehension
  • Reading development
  • Reading fluency
  • Transparent orthography