Grapheme coding was examined in French Grade 6 and Grade 8 children and adults who learned English as a second language (L2). In Experiments 1 and 2, three conditions were compared in a letter detection task in L2: (1) simple grapheme (i.e., detect “a” in black); (2) complex language-shared grapheme (i.e., “a” in brain) and (3) complex L2-specific grapheme (i.e., “a” in beach). The data indicated that graphemes in L2 words were functional sub-lexical orthographic units for these L2 learners. Moreover, L2-specific graphemes took longer to process than language-shared complex graphemes. Using the same task, Experiment 3 examined phonological influences by manipulating the cross-language congruency of grapheme-to-phoneme mappings (detect “a” in have [congruent] vs. take [incongruent]). The outcome of this study offers preliminary evidence of graphemic coding during L2 word recognition both at the orthographic and the orthography-to-phonology mapping levels.