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The influence of learning a second language in primary school on developing first language literacy skills

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 May 2014

University of Oxford
University of Oxford
University of Oxford
University of Oxford
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Victoria A. Murphy, Department of Education, University of Oxford, 15 Norham Gardens, Oxford OX2 6PY, United Kingdom. E-mail:


This study investigated whether learning a second language (L2) has a facilitative effect on first language (L1) literacy and whether there is an advantage to learning an L2 with transparent grapheme–phoneme correspondences. One hundred fifty Year 3 children were randomly assigned into one of three groups: L2 Italian, L2 French, and control. Children were pretested on measures of English (L1) spelling, reading and phonological processing. The L2 groups then received 15 weeks of L2 instruction in Italian or French, respectively. The L2 groups outperformed the control group on posttest measures of English reading accuracy and different aspects of phonological processing. In addition, there was an advantage for the L2 Italian group as their scores were higher than the L2 French group on English reading accuracy and phonological processing.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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