Learning to Read in Their Heritage Language: Hindi-English Speaking Children Reading Two Different Orthographies

  • Amna Mirza
  • Alexandra GottardoEmail author
Part of the Literacy Studies book series (LITS, volume 17)


In the past few decades, research in reading development has begun to focus on reading in different languages to establish language universals. However, the focus has remained largely on alphabet-based orthographies as compared to other levels of sound-symbol mappings (Share DL, Front Psychol 5:1–3, 2014). The assumption is that the theoretical models of reading acquisition in English are generalizable to other languages, including Spanish, German and Chinese (Leong CK, Tamaoka K, Read Writ Interdiscip J 10:155–164, 1998; Wimmer H, Goswami U, Cognition, 51(1):91–103, 1994; Vaid J, Padakannaya P, Read Writ Interdiscip J 17(1):1–6, 2004). However, Indic writing systems, such as Hindi, which are written, using symbol units called akshara, are largely ignored. This study examined variables related to word reading in Hindi and English for Hindi-English speaking children. The children resided in Canada, were fluent English speakers, and attended heritage language classes in Hindi, their first language. Word reading and vocabulary knowledge were measured in both languages, while phonological awareness was measured in English. Within- and cross-language relations revealed that similar processes were related to word reading in each language for this group of participants.


Abugida orthography Bilingualism Biliteracy Hindi-English speakers 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Child and Youth StudiesBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada

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