Research Yuuko Uchikoshi Tonkovich

Language and Literacy Development Lab

Our research focuses on the language and literacy development of young children, particularly dual language learners. We have several ongoing projects. The lab is supported by grants from the National Institute of Health, Foundation for Child Development, Language Learning, and Yolo Community Foundation.

Are you interested in working with us? We are looking for native Spanish-speaking, native Cantonese-speaking, and native English-speaking undergraduate and graduate students to work with us. Students can earn research credit in Education and HDP. It’s a great opportunity to gain valuable research experience and to work closely with a faculty mentor, as well as in a team setting. Hours are flexible. We also welcome any prospective graduate students!

If interested, please email us at


Bilingual Reading and the Brain Study
With UCSF, we are in Year 3 of a large-scale 5-year neuroimaging study in looking at how children learning two languages learn to read from kindergarten to 3rd grade in immersion programs. Our participants include Spanish and Cantonese speakers learning to read in English and in their native languages, and English speakers learning to read in English as well as Spanish or Cantonese. The theoretical goal is to test and evaluate models of literacy acquisition through behavioral assessments and neuro-imaging techniques. In addition, we are studying the impact that learning multiple languages may have on cognition. Funded by NICHD. R01HD078351

Collaborators: Dr. Fumiko Hoeft (UCSF), Dr. Ioulia Kovelman (University of Michigan), Dr. Genevieve Leung (University of San Francisco)

Recent News:

Diana Santoyo presented findings at the UC Davis Undergraduate Research Conference on 4/27/2018.

Time 1 results will be presented at AERA: “Language Exposure and Language Proficiency: English-Spanish Bilinguals in Dual-Language Immersion Programs” in DLI Symposium ”Language and Literacy Development: Immersion Education in the U.S. and Canada.”

PhD student Lu Yang & undergraduate RA Neva He presented findings at the annual LRA conference in November 2017.

Harnessing Parental Engagement to Reduce Summer Reading Loss
We conducted a pilot parent engagement program during Summer 2017 to help reduce summer reading loss with Latino Dual Language Learners.  We will start data analysis in the fall quarter and use this pilot data to apply for larger funding.  Funded by UC Davis and FirstBooks.

Recent News: New funding from Yolo Community Foundation to continue summer program in 2018

Bilinguals and Socio-Emotional Development
With UC Berkeley, we are examining the relationship between bilingual proficiency and socio-emotional development with Spanish-speaking and Chinese-speaking immigrant preschoolers and their families.  We are starting our large-scale data collection in the Greater Bay Area.

Collaborators: Dr. Qing Zhou (UC Berkeley)

Recent News:

Neva He (2018 UCD graduate) will be our project coordinator.

New funding “Bilingual and Socio-Emotional Development in Dual Language Learners” (R01HD091154). 2017-2022.

Cantonese Dual Language Immersion                                                    Few studies exist on Cantonese-English dual language programs in the U.S. This study examines the relationships between language identity, language attitudes, and language proficiency with upper elementary school students.               

Collaboarators: Dr. Genevieve Leung (USF)    

Funding: Language Learning 

Recent News: New publications.  

Yang, L., Leung, R., Tong., R., Uchikoshi, Y. (accepted). Student attitudes and Cantonese proficiency in a Cantonese dual-immersion school.  Foreign Language Annals. 

Leung, G., Tong., R., Uchikoshi, Y. (in press).  “Learning Cantonese will help us”: Elementary school students’ perceptions of dual language education. Bilingual Research Journal.

Early Literacy Study of Immigrant Children
Longitudinal data was collected from Spanish-speaking and Cantonese-speaking English Learners in both home language and English from kindergarten to second grade. Several papers have been published from this study. We are currently working on analyzing the narrative data. Funded by Foundation for Child Development

Collaborators: Dr. Stefka Marinova-Todd (University of British Columbia); Dr. Hyun-Sook Kang (University of Illinois)

Recent News: 

Grace Jeong and Juliana Ng presented findings at the UC Davis Undergraduate Research Conference on 4/27/2018.

New publication: Uchikoshi, Y., Yang, L, & Liu, S. (2017).  Role of narrative skills on reading comprehension: Spanish-English and Cantonese-English Dual Language Learners.  Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

Doctoral Research Assistants:

Lu Yang, Mayu Lindblad, Amanda Chang, JaNay Brown-Wood, Emily Mak

Project Coordinator:

Neva He

Undergraduate Research Assistants 2016-17:

Peiyi Chen, Noemi Gil, Neva He, Grace Jeong, Crystal Lin, Karina Martinez-Ortiz, Juliana Ng, David Morales, Qin Li, Diana Santoyo, Edith Suarez, Melinda Tran, Mariela Vega, Jam Yau.

Undergraduate Research Assistants 2017-18:

Ty Brownridge, Stefania Barrera, Zi Fang, Neva He, Terry Huang, Grace Jeong, Juliana Ng, Yvette Lau, MP Loc, Melissa Martinez, Karina Martinez-Ortiz, Cynthia Sanchez, Jodie Sakazaki, Diana Santoyo, Tiffany Wei

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