Reading and Writing

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 217–234 | Cite as

Knowledge of the alphabet and explicit awareness of phonemes in pre-readers: The nature of the relationship

  • Rhona S. Johnston
  • Marjorie Anderson
  • Christopher Holligan


This study was carried out to examine the extent to which preschool children are aware of the phonemic structure of the spoken word and to investigate how they acquire that knowledge. The four year old non-readers carried out a battery of takss designed to assess product name reading ability, knowledge of the alphabet, rhyme skills and explicit phonemic awareness ability. There was evidence that they generally acquired knowledge of the alphabet before they showed explicit phonemic awareness ability. Fixed order regression analyses showed that ability to read and write the alphabet generally accounted for unique variance in phoneme awareness and product name reading ability over and above that accounted for by rhyme skills but that rhyme ability accounted for no unique variance beyond that accounted for by alphabet knowledge. Further analyses showed that alphabet knowledge also contributed unique variance to product name reading ability over and above that accounted for by phonemic awareness ability but that the reverse was not the case. It was hypothesised that many preschool non-readers may start to gain an insight into the phonemic structure of the spoken word by becoming aware of the connection between the sounds of letters in environmental print and the sounds of the spoken word.

Key words

Preschool Pre-readers Phonemic awareness Letter knowledge Emergent reading Alphabet 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rhona S. Johnston
    • 1
  • Marjorie Anderson
    • 1
  • Christopher Holligan
    • 2
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsScotland
  2. 2.Department of Professional Studies, Faculty of EducationUniversity of PaisleyPaisleyUK

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