To characterize the performance of Brazilian students exposed to two languages in reading fluency, phonological memory, and rapid naming, according to grade level, and to investigate correlations between these variables.
Sixty students took part in this study (50% female), enrolled in the third to the fifth grades of two elementary schools of the city of São Paulo. They constituted two groups - bilingual group: 30 Brazilian children whose mother tongue and language spoken at home was Brazilian Portuguese and who were daily exposed to English at school for a period not shorter than three years; monolingual group: 30 students, from a monolingual Brazilian elementary school, who were paired by gender, age, and grade level with the bilingual students. Foreign children, children with complaint or indication of speech and language disorder, or who had been retained were excluded. A rapid automatized naming, pseudoword repetition, and oral reading tests were administered. The bilingual children were assessed in both languages and their performances were compared among themselves and with the monolingual group, which was only assessed in Brazilian Portuguese.
The bilingual group showed better performance in English, rapid naming, and pseudoword repetition tasks, whereas Brazilian Portuguese, in reading fluency. A higher number of correlations were found in Brazilian Portuguese.
The results suggest that the acquisition of a second language may positively influence the abilities of rapid naming, reading rate, and accuracy. Brazilian bilingual students performed better in tasks of phonological memory in English and Brazilian Portuguese performed better in reading fluency. Different correlation patterns were found between the rapid naming, accuracy, and reading rate, in the bilingual group analysis, in both languages.