DOI: 10.1111/lang.12603 ISSN: 0023-8333

Does Nonlinguistic Segmentation Predict Literacy in Second Language Education? Statistical Learning in Ivorian Primary Schools

Benjamin D. Zinszer, Joelle Hannon, Aya Élise Kouadio, Hermann Akpé, Fabrice Tanoh, Anqi Hu, Zhenghan Qi, Kaja Jasińska
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education


Statistical learning is a learning mechanism that does not directly depend on knowledge of a language but predicts language and literacy outcomes for children and adults. Research linking statistical learning and literacy has not addressed a common educational context in primary schools worldwide: children who first learn to read in their second language (L2). Several studies have linked statistical learning with childhood literacy in Australia, China, Europe, and the United States, and we preregistered an adaptation for Côte d'Ivoire, where students are educated in French and speak a local language at home. We recruited 117 sixth‐graders from primary schools in several villages and tested for correlations greater than .30 between statistical learning and literacy with 80–90% power. We found no evidence for these correlations between statistical learning and literacy, but visual statistical learning was correlated with L2 phonological awareness, a crucial emergent‐literacy skill. This finding underscores the need to include L2 acquisition contexts in literacy research.

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