An investigation of cross-linguistic transfer between Chinese and English: a meta-analysis

Man Yang, North Cooc, Li Sheng

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Cross-linguistic transfer embodies language learners’ use of linguistic knowledge of their first language to leverage the learning of a second language. The cross-linguisitc transfer between Chinese and English has been studied by scholars from different disciplines. However, variances and inconsistencies exist among prior studies regarding the investigated linguistic domains and reported results. Therefore, a meta-analysis is needed to systematically investigate the cross-linguistic transfer between Chinese and English. This meta-analysis presents research on cross-linguistic transfer between the two languages in four domains: phonological awareness, decoding skills, vocabulary, and morphological awareness. Using 33 articles conducted in different countries, our results show small to moderate levels of transfer in the above four domains. In addition, it was found that the results were moderated by geographic location of the study and participant age. Overall, the meta-analysis indicates that English and Chinese share common linguistic features that can allow for transfer in learning between the languages. Bilingual learners can benefit in educational environments that tap into these linguistic features.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalAsian-Pacific Journal of Second and Foreign Language Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese
  • Cross-linguistic transfer
  • English

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics

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