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Dr TONG, Xiuli Shelley

Personal Particulars

Dr TONG, Xiuli Shelley


Postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Canada (2008-2010)
Postdoctoral fellow in the MARCS Institute of the University of Western Sydney, Australia (2010-2011)

Associate Professor

Human Communication, Development, and Information Sciences

Tel: (852) 2241 5982

Location: Room 804C, Meng Wah Complex

Areas of Expertise:

Speech Perception, Language Learning, and Literacy Development in Children with/without Developmental Dyslexia, Poor reading comprehension, and/or Autism Spectrum Disorders

Areas of Expertise

Research Interests:

As Director of the Speech, Language and Reading Lab (http://slrlab.wixsite.com/slrlab), I utilize both cognitive-behavioral and neurophysiological approaches to investigate (1) the neurocognitive mechanism that enables bilingual children to crack suprasegmental speech and orthographic codes in two different languages to formulate speech-print associations in the process of becoming biliterate; (2) the impact of music and tonal language learning experience on developmental neuroplasticity in the auditory cortex; and (3) effective intervention strategies for leveraging the strength of children with developmental dyslexia, poor reading comprehension, and/or autism spectrum disorders. My current research promotes the well-being of those children by providing a speech-language-literacy intervention program targeted at improving neurocognitive, linguistic and social-behavioral skills.

Teaching Areas:

Research Methods and Statistics for Speech and Hearing Sciences, School-Age and Adolescent Language & Literacy Disorders



2017 HKU Faculty of Education Research Output Prize

2016 HKU Faculty of Education Outstanding Young Researcher Award

2016 HKU Faculty of Education Early Career Research Output Award 

2015 HKU Overseas Fellowship Award, The University of Hong Kong 

2011, US National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow

2008, The first recipient of U.S. Scientific Studies of Reading Society Rebecca L. Sandak Young Investigator Award (http://www.haskins.yale.edu/newsrelease/HNR_sandakaward.html


2017- Present, Associate Editor, Applied Psycholinguistics. Publisher: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England.

2016-Present, Review Editor, “Language Sciences” section, Frontiers in Psychology. Publisher: Frontier, Dorigny University Campus, University of Lausanne.

2018-Present, Editorial Board Member: Scientific Studies of Reading.


Externally Funded Projects

Hong Kong Research Grants Council (RGC)/General Research Fund.  From mind reading to text reading: What are the roles of executive function and language comprehension?. Hong Kong Research Grants Council (RGC)/General Research Fund. Discovering hidden regularities in print: Chinese dyslexic children’s statistical learning of sublexical orthographic regularities. Principal Investigator, 2086-2021. 

Hong Kong Research Grants Council (RGC)/General Research Fund.  Discovering hidden regularities in print: Chinese dyslexic children’s statistical learning of sublexical orthographic regularities. Principal Investigator, 2016-2018. 

Hong Kong the Research Grants Council (RGC) /Early Career Scheme. Becoming a skilled comprehender in both Chinese and English: Prosodic sensitivity and working memory in bilingual children’s reading comprehension. Principal Investigator, 2015-2018 (Co-investigator Dr. Kate Cain, Lancaster University).

UK Economic and Social Research Council and Hong Kong the Research Grants Council (RGC) Joint Grant Scheme. Language-specific and language-general influences on reading comprehension development: Comparisons between an alphabetic and morphographic script. Co-Principal Investigator (with Dr. Kate Cain, Lancaster University), 2013-2014.

National Social Science Foundation (Mainland China). The emergent literacy in Chinese children with autism. Co-Investigator (PI Jing Zhao, Sun Yat-sen University), 2013-2015.

U.S. National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation. Becoming biliterate in Chinese and English: What is the Role of Higher Phonological Processing?  Principal Investigator, 2011-2013.

Selected Internally Funded Projects

The University of Hong Kong Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research. Statistical Learning in Chinese Dyslexic Children. Principle Investigator, 2015-2016.

The University of Hong Kong Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research. Cantonese Tone Perception and Working Memory in Cantonese-English Bilinguals. Principal Investigator, 2014-2015.

The University of Hong Kong Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research. An Interactive Model of Lexical Tone Perception in Chinese-English Bilingual Children. Principal Investigator, 2013-2015.

The University of Hong Kong Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research. Cross-language perception of Lexical tone in bilingual children. Principal Investigator, 2012-2014.

Seed Research Grant from the University of Western Sydney, Australia, Cross-language representation of pitch in bilingual infants: One or two acquisition systems? Principal Investigator, 2010-2012. 


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles (* indicates graduate student author) 

*Choi, W., Tong, X., & Samuel, A. (2019). Better than native: Tone language experience enhances English lexical stress discrimination in Cantonese-English bilingual listeners. Cognition. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2019.04.004

*Deng, Q., Choi, W., & Tong, X. (2019). Bidirectional cross-linguistic association of phonological skills and reading comprehension: Evidence from Hong Kong Chinese-English bilingual readers: Journal of Learning Disabilities.

*Choi, W., Tong, X., & Deacon, S. H. (accepted on January 29, 2019). From Cantonese lexical tone awareness to L2 English vocabulary: Cross-language mediation by Segmental phonological awareness. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research.

*Tsui, R. K.-Y., Tong, X., & *Chan, S.-K. (2019). Impact of language dominance on phonetic transfer in Cantonese-English bilingual language-switching. Applied Psycholinguistics. 40 (1), 29-58.  doi: 0.1017/S0142716418000449.

Hulme, C., Zhou, L., Tong, X., Lervag, A., & Burgoyne, K. (2019). Learning to read in Chinese: Evidence for reciprocal relationships between word reading and oral language skills. Developmental Science. doi: 10.1111/desc.12745.

 *Choi, W., Tong, X., Law, K. K.-S., & Cain, K. (2018). Within- and Cross-Language Contributions of Morphological Awareness to Word Reading Development in Chinese-English Bilingual Children. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal. doi: 10.1007/s11145-017-9770-0.

Tong X., *Choi, W., & ^Man, Y. Y. (2018). Tone language experience modulates the effect of long-term musical training on musical pitch perception. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 144(2), 690-697. doi:10.1121/1.5049365sui,

Tong, X., & McBride, C. (2018). Toward a graded psycholexical space mapping model: Sublexical and lexical representations in Chinese character reading development. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 51(5), 482-489. doi:10.1177/0022219417718199

*He, X., & Tong, X. (2017). Quantity matters: Children with dyslexia are impaired in small, but not large number of exposures during implicit repeated sequence learning. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. doi: 10.1044/2017_AJSLP-15-0190

Tong, X., Tong, X. [xiuli], & Yiu, F. K. (2017). Beyond auditory sensory processing deficits: Lexical tone perception deficits in Chinese children with developmental dyslexia. Journal of Learning Disabilities. doi: 10.1177/0022219417712018

 *Choi, W., Tong, X., & Singh, L. (2017). From lexical tone to lexical stress: A cross-language mediation model for Cantonese children learning English as a second language. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(492). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00492

Tong, X., & Deacon, S. H. (2017). Understanding poor comprehenders in different orthographies: Universal versus language-specific skills. Journal of Research in Reading, 40(2), 119-124. doi: 10.1111/1467-9817.12112.

Tong, X., Tong, X. [xiuli], & McBride, C. (2017). Radical sensitivity is the key to understanding Chinese character acquisition in children. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal. doi:  10.1007/s11145-017-9722-8

*Choi, W., Tong, X. [xiuli], Gu, F., Tong, X., & Wong, L. (2017). On the early neural perceptual integrality of tones and vowels. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 41, 11-23. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroling.2016.09.003.

*He, X., & Tong, X. (2016). Statistical learning as a key to cracking Chinese orthographic codes. Scientific Studies of Reading. doi: 10.1080/10888438.2016.1243541.

Tong, X., *He, X., & Deacon, H. (2016). Tone matters for Cantonese-English bilingual children’s English word reading development: A unified model of phonological transfer. Memory & Cognition. doi:10.3758/s13421-016-0657-0.

Tong, X., Tong, X [xiuli], & McBride, C. (2016). Unpacking the relation between morphological awareness and Chinese word reading: Levels of morphological awareness and vocabulary. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 48, 167-178.

Tong, X., Kwan, J. L-Y., Wong, D. W-M., Lee, S. M-K, & Yip, J. H-Y. (2016). Toward a dynamic interactive model of non-native Chinese character processing. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(5), 680-693. 

*Choi, W., Tong, X., & Cain, K. (2016). Lexical prosody beyond L1 boundary: Chinese lexical tone sensitivity predicts English reading comprehension. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 148, 70-68. 

*Choi, W., Tong*, X., & Deacon, H. (2016). Double dissociations in reading comprehension difficulties among Chinese-English bilinguals and their association with tone awareness. Journal of Research in Reading. doi: 10.1111/1467-9817.12077

Tong X, Lee, S.M-K, Lee, M.M-L, Burnham, D. (2015) A tale of two features: Perception of Cantonese lexical tone and English lexical stress in Cantonese-English bilinguals. PLoS ONE 10(11): e0142896. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0142896.

Deacon, S. H., Tong, X., & Francis, K.(2015). The relationship of morphological awareness and morphological decoding to reading comprehension. Journal of Research in Reading. ​DOI: 10.1111/1467-9817.12056.

Tong, X. [xiuli], McBride, C., & Tong, X. (2014). Tune in to the tone: Lexical tone identification is associated with vocabulary and word recognition abilities in young Chinese children. Language and Speech, 58(4), 441-458. doi: 10.1177/0023830914562988.

Tong, X., McBride, Zhang, J., Chung, K. H., Lee, C-Y, Shuai, L., & Tong, X. (2014). Neural correlates of acoustic cues of English lexical stress in Cantonese-speaking children. Brain & Language, 138, 61-70.

Tong, X., McBride-Chang, C., & Burnham, D. (2014). Cues for lexical tone perception in children: Acoustic correlates and phonetic context effects. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 57, 1589-1605.

Tong, X., & Yip, J. H-Y. (2014). Cracking the Chinese character: Radical sensitivity in learners of Chinese as a foreign language and its relationship to Chinese word reading. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, DOI 10.1007/s11145-014-9519-y.

Tong, X., & McBride, C. (2014). Chinese children’s statistical learning of orthographic regularities: Positional constraints and character structure. Scientific Studies of Reading, 25, 1-18. DOI: 10.1080/10888438.2014.884098

Tong, X., Deacon, S.H., & Cain, K. (2014). Morphological and syntactic awareness in poor comprehenders: Another piece of the puzzle. Journal of Learning Disability7(1), 22-33. 

Tong, X., Tong X., & McBride-Chang, C. (2013). Discourse-level reading comprehension in Chinese children: What is the role of syntactic awareness? Journal of Research in Reading. DOI: 10.1111/1467-9817.12016.

Tong, X., Tong, X., & McBride-Chang, C. (2013). A tale of two-writing systems: Double dissociation and metalinguistic transfer between Chinese and English word reading among Hong Kong children. Journal of Learning Disability. DOI: 10.1177/0022219413492854

Zhang, J., McBride-Chang, C., Tong, X., Wong, A., Shu, H., & Fong, Y.-C. (2012) Reading with meaning: the contributions of meaning-related variables at the word andsubword levels to early Chinese reading comprehension. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 25, 2183-2203.

Tong, X., Deacon, S. H., Kirby, J., & Cain, K. (2011). Morphological awareness: A key to understanding poor reading comprehension in English. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103, 523-534.

Tong, X., McBride-Chang, C., Wong, A. M-Y., Shu, H., Reistma, P., & Rispens, J. (2011). Longitudinal predictors of very early Chinese literacy acquisition. Journal of Research in Reading, 34, 315-332.

Tong, X., Ting, K-T., & McBride-Chang. (2011). Shyness and Chinese and English vocabulary skills in Hong Kong Chinese kindergartners. Early Education & Development, 22, 29-52 

Tong, X., & McBride-Chang, C. (2010). Developmental models of learning to read Chinese words. Developmental Psychology, 46, 1662-1676.

Tong, X., McBride-Chang, C., Shu, H., & Wong, A. M-Y. (2009). Morphological awareness and orthographic knowledge: Keys to understanding word reading, spelling acquisition and errors, and reading comprehension in Hong Kong Chinese children. Scientific Studies of Reading, 13, 426-452.

Tong, X., & McBride-Chang, C. (2010). Chinese-English biscriptal reading: Cognitive component skills across orthographies. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 23, 293-310

McBride-Chang, C., Tong, X., Shu, H., Wong, A. M-Y., Leung, K., & Tardif, T. (2008). Syllable, phoneme, and tone: Psycholinguistic units in early Chinese and English word recognition. Scientific Studies of Reading, 12, 171-194.

Book Chapters

Deacon, S. H., Tong, X., & Catherine Mimeau (invited, 2016). Morphological and semantic processing in developmental dyslexia across languages: A theoretical and empirical review. In C. Perfetti, K. Pugh, & L. Verhoeven. Dyslexia across Languages and Writing Systems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  

Tong, X., Lam, S., & McBride-Chang, C. (2015). Chinese literacy acquisition: A multidimensional puzzle. In W.S-Y.Wang & C. McBride-Chang (Eds.), The International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Science. Amsterdam: Elsevier Ltd.  

Deacon, S. H., & Tong, X., (2013). Unexpected poor comprehenders: Children with an often unrecognized and profoundly debilitating reading difficulty. In M. R. Maluf & C. Cardoso-Martins (Eds.), Como se aprende a ler e a escrever: Novas Perspectivas (How to learn to read and write: New perspectives). Porto Alegre: GRUPOA.  

McBride-Chang, C., Tong, X., Cho, J-R., & Chow, Y. (2012). New directions for early literacy development in Chinese and Korean. In K. Uichol (Eds.), International and Cultural Psychology Series: Asia’s Educational Miracle: Psychological, Social and Cultural Perspectives. New York, NY: Springer.  

Cheung, H., McBride-Chang, C., & Tong, X. (2011). Learning a non-alphabetic script and its impact on later development of English as an L2. In A. Durgunoglu & M. Gerber (Eds.), Language and Literacy Development of Language Learners. New York: Guilford.

McBride-Chang, C., Chow, Y-Y., & Tong, X. (2010). Early literacy at home: General environmental factors and specific parent input. In D. Aram & O. Korat (Eds.), Literacy Development and Enhancement Across Orthographies and Cultures (pp. 97-127). New York: Springer. 

Tong, X., Liu, D., & McBride-Chang, C. (2009). Metalinguistic and sub-character skills in Chinese literacy acquisition. In C. Wood & V. Connelly (Eds.), Contemporary Perspectives on Reading and Spelling (pp. 202-217). Routledge: London.

Professional Community Services

  2008-present Voting Member the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading 






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