The Influences of Syllable Structure and Reading Ability on the Development of Phoneme Awareness: A Longitudinal, Cross-Linguistic Study. Marketa Caravolas and Karin Landerl. Summary In this article Caravolas and Landerl tackle the question of exactly how phoneme awareness affects the very early stages of reading ability in children at the pre-reading stage and in Grade 1 of formal schooling…
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In order to address this question they conducted a cross-linguistic empirical study comparing children who spoke Czech and Austrian German. These languages were chosen because Czech language has a large variety and frequency of onset syllables while German has a large variety and frequency of codas. English which has relatively few of either, was used as a benchmark language. The focus here is on phonemes, and not syllables as such. A second aim was to determine whether the native language structure would influence children before reading instruction, since this would be an argument supporting the hypothesis that language structure, as well as reading instruction, influence phoneme awareness. The method involved 45 Czech children and 33 German children who were all taught by phonic methods. All children were tested twice on a range of abilities, including letter knowledge, single word recognition, IQ and phoneme awareness. The results ruled out extraneous variables, and confirmed the hypothesis that language structure affects phoneme awareness. ...
This has quite significant theoretical implications in relation to language acquisition, suggesting that a natural language process is what guides children, rather than an instructor mediated process. Questions One question which I would like to explore further is the fact that so many linguistic studies involve researchers who either speak English or study English. This language dominates the theory and the fieldwork in reading acquisition, and the article by Caravolas and Landers (2010) suggests that more cross-linguistic fieldwork might produce results that are different from fieldwork using English. Even in this study, English was used as a benchmark. Insights from the experience of learners and teachers in other languages may well reveal new insights about the first language acquisition process, and also phoneme awareness, both of which are crucial elements for learning to read. This could be a fascinating area for new research. References Caravolas, M. and Landerl, K. (2010) The Influences of Syllable Structure and Reading Ability on the Development of Phoneme Awareness: A Longitudinal, Cross-Linguistic Study. Scientific Studies of Reading 14 (5), 464-484. A Developmental Continuum of Phonological Sensitivity Skills. Lisa A. Pufpaff. Summary This study by Lisa Pufpaff takes the form of a literature review. It is a meta-analysis of previous work and its main focus is to synthesize views from scholars over the past 30 years on the acquisition of phonological sensitivity. The term is carefully defined as a continuum rather than an absolute achievement and a distinction is made between terms that have previously been used ...
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