Acquiring Literacy in English:
Crosslinguistic, Intralinguistic, and Developmental Factors

Phonological Transfer Test

Authors and Date

Andrea Rolla San Francisco, formerly of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Diane August, Center for Applied Linguistics. 2002.


The Phonological Transfer Test was designed to assess negative phonological transfer in Spanish-English bilingual children.

The test was developed for the research study Transfer of Reading Skills in Bilingual Children, subproject 2 of Acquiring Literacy in English: Crosslinguistic, Intralinguistic, and Developmental Factors.

Age or Grade of Examinees

The assessment was developed to be used for students in kindergarten and first grade.


The test requires students to separate words into phonemic segments. The administrator says a pseudoword, and asks the child to repeat the word and then to say it one sound at a time. There is a line of counters (e.g., pennies) in front of the child, who is asked to push one counter out for each sound in the pseudoword.


Administrator Says...

Target Response

Number of Counters Pushed Out












The test is individually administered by a trained native English speaker, and the entire task is tape recorded. The assessment generally takes 20 minutes to administer.

Scoring and Interpretation

The items are scored dichotomously as correct or incorrect, based on the number of counters the child pushes forward.

Reliability and Validity

Cronbach's alpha was separately calculated for the monolingual and bilingual children’s dichotomously-scored responses in the pilot study. Cronbach's alpha was .98 for both the monolingual and bilingual children.

Validation data are pending.


The development of the Phonology Transfer Test was informed by the work of Durgunoglu, Nagy, and Hancin-Bhatt and the work of Yopp.

Durgonoglu, A.Y., Nagy, W.E. & Hancin-Bhatt, B.J. (1993). Cross-language transfer of phonological awareness. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(3), 453-465.

Yopp, H.K. (1995). A test of phonemic awareness in young children. The Reading Teacher, 49, 20-29.


The Phonological Transfer Test is available from the Center for Applied Linguistics. To request a copy, complete and submit the Application Form for Use of ALE Researcher-developed Assessment Instruments, available in Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF format.


Researchers using the Phonological Transfer Test should cite it as follows:

Harvard Graduate School of Education and Center for Applied Linguistics. (2002). Phonological Transfer Test. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.

Return to the list of researcher-developed assessments.