Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Article

Investigating Parental Beliefs and Home Literacy Environment on Chinese Kindergarteners’ English Literacy and Language Skills

Lai, J., Ji, X.R., Joshi, R.M., Zhao, J. (2022) Investigating Parental Beliefs and Home Literacy Environment on Chinese Kindergarteners’ English Literacy and Language Skills. Early Childhood Education Journal.,

Access: Institutional Access

Publication year


study description


core topic(s)

Early Literacy

Population Characteristics

Kindergarten , Lingually Diverse , Poverty/Low-Income

Exposures, Outcomes, Other

Child Behaviors and Skills , Home Language/Literacy/Learning Environment , Language and Literacy Development , Parent Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs


The study investigated how parental belief and family socio economic status (SES) were related to the home literacy environment and to early literacy-related skills in a foreign language (English).


Parental beliefs and family socioeconomic status (SES)

outcomes evaluated

Home literacy environment (HLE) and early literacy related skills in a foreign language (English)


Chinese kindergarteners averaging age 5 years 5 months old recruited from Guangzhou, China.


Eighty-six Chinese children in kindergarten (Mage = 5 years 5 months, 44 girls) were assessed on English phonological awareness, English receptive vocabulary, English expressive vocabulary, Chinese receptive vocabulary, and nonverbal intelligence. Parents completed a questionnaire about family demographics, home literacy environment, and parental belief on the importance of early English literacy skills.

sample size

n=86 (kindergarteners)


  • Measure of Family SES: assessed with mother’s highest education level attained (six-point scale) and family’s monthly income (five-point scale ranging from <10,000 yuan to >40,000 yuan).
  • Measure of Home Literacy Environment: 20-item questionnaire about the home literacy environment, specifically about literacy resources in the home and the frequency of literacy activities at home.
  • Measure of Parental Literacy Belief: seven-point scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree to the following question, “my child should begin reading or writing in English before primary school.”
  • Measure of English Receptive Vocabulary: Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Fourth Edition (PPVT-4)
  • Measure of English Expressive Vocabulary: Picture Vocabulary subtest of subtest the Picture Vocabulary of the Woodcock Johnson III Tests of Achievement
  • Measure of English Phonological Awareness: Sound Matching subtest from the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP)
  • Measure of Nonverbal Intelligence: Third Version of Combined Raven’s Test (CRT-C3)
  • Measure of Chinese Receptive Vocabulary: Chinese version of the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised (PPVT-R)


Principal component analysis revealed three dimensions of home literacy environment: Formal Literacy Activity, Informal Language Exposure, and Passive Literacy Exposure. Results showed that parental belief and family SES were important predictors of home literacy environment, which further explained 44% of the variance in early English language and literacy skills. Parental belief indirectly predicted children’s English receptive vocabulary and expressive vocabulary through Informal Language Exposure, and phonological awareness through Formal Literacy Activity.


The results underpinned the importance of parents’ involvement at home and the potential feasibility of interventions on parental beliefs in helping children develop early language and literacy skills in English as a foreign language.


1. Sampling: We studied a group of children whose parents are from mid-to-high SES backgrounds; therefore, the findings of this study might not be generalizable to lower SES groups. While the sample size of our study is statistically strong enough, perhaps a larger, more diverse sample would be desirable in future investigations. 2. Style of questionnaire: The measures of home literacy environment and parental belief were based on a self-reported questionnaire, which might lead to inflated reports of parents’ engagement in home literacy environment and positive attitudes toward English language learning, thus perhaps overestimating relationships. 3. Indicators of Chinese parent SES: We only included maternal education and family income as indicators of SES, but other components impact Chinese parent SES. 4. Environmental factors: Factors external to the home, such as frequency of English class attendance or parents’ English proficiency, likely impact children’s early EFL learning. However, the present study did not consider English class frequency in the analysis, nor did we provide a more direct or unbiased accounting of parents’ English proficiency level.