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
Article

Abstract

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 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Ball, E. & Blachman, B. (1991). Does phoneme awareness training in kindergarten make a difference in early word recognition and developmental spelling?, Reading Research Quarterly 26: 46–66.Google Scholar
  2. Barron, R. (1991). Protoliteracy, literacy, and the acquisition of phonological awareness, Learning and Individual Differences 3: 243–255.Google Scholar
  3. Barron, R. W., Golden, J. O., Seldon, D. M., Tait, C., Marmurek, H. H. & Haines, L. P. (1992). Teaching pre-reading skills with a talking computer, Reading and Writing 4: 179–204.Google Scholar
  4. Bertelson, P. & deGelder, B. (1989). Learning about reading from illiterates. In: A. M., Galaburda (ed.), From reading to neurons (pp. 1–23). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  5. Blatchford, P., Burke, J., Farquhar, C., Plewis, I. & Tizard, B. (1987). Associations between pre-school reading related skills and later reading achievement, British Journal of Educational Psychology 13: 15–23.Google Scholar
  6. Blatchford, P. & Plewis, I. (1990). Pre-school reading related skills and later reading achievement: Further evidence, British Journal of Educational Psychology 16: 425–428.Google Scholar
  7. Bowey, J. A. (1994). Phonological sensitivity in novice readers and non-readers, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 58: 134–159.Google Scholar
  8. Bowey, J. A. & Francis, J. (1991). Phonological analysis as a function of age and exposure to reading instruction, Applied Psycholinguistics 12: 91–121.Google Scholar
  9. Bradley, L. & Bryant, P. E. (1983). Categorizing sounds and learning to read: A causal connection, Nature 301: 419–421.Google Scholar
  10. Bryant, P. E. & Goswami, U. (1987). Phonological awareness and learning to read. In: J. R., Beech & A. M., Colley (eds.), Cognitive approaches to reading (pp. 213–243). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  11. Byrne, B. & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1989). Phonemic awareness and letter knowledge in the child's acquisition of the alphabetic principle, Journal of Educational Psychology 81: 313–321.Google Scholar
  12. Byrne, B. & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1990). Acquiring the alphabetic principle: A case for teaching recognition of phoneme identity, Journal of Educational Psychology 82: 805–812.Google Scholar
  13. Byrne, B. & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1991). Evaluation of a program to teach phonemic awareness to young children, Journal of Educational Psychology 83: 451–455.Google Scholar
  14. Byrne, B. & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1993). Evaluation of a program to teach phonemic awareness to young children: A one-year follow-up, Journal of Educational Psychology 85: 104–111.Google Scholar
  15. Cardoso-Martins, C. (1994). Rhyme perception: Global or analytical?, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 57: 26–41.Google Scholar
  16. Clay, M. M. (1979). The early detection of reading difficulties. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  17. Content, A., Kolinsky, R., Morais, J. & Bertelson, P. (1986). Phonetic segmentation in prereaders: Effect of connective information, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 42: 49–72.Google Scholar
  18. Dunn, L. M. & Dunn, L. M. (1982). British Picture Vocabulary Scale. Windsor: NFER-Nelson.Google Scholar
  19. Ehri, L. C. (1983). A critique of 5 studies related to letter name knowledge and learning to read. In: L. M., Gentile, M. L., Kamil & J. S., Blanchard (eds.), Reading research revisited (pp. 143–153). Columbus, OH: Merrill.Google Scholar
  20. Ehri, L. C. (1992). Reconceptualizing the development of sight word reading and its relationship to decoding. In: P. B., Gough, L. C., Ehri & R., Treiman (eds.), Reading acquisition (pp. 107–143). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  21. Ehri, L. C. & Wilce, L. S. (1985). Movement into reading: Is the first stage of printed word learning visual or phonetic?, Reading Research Quarterly 20: 163–179.Google Scholar
  22. Elliott, C. D., Murray, D. J. & Pearson, L. S. (1977). The British Ability Scales. Windsor: NFER Nelson.Google Scholar
  23. Fox, B. & Routh, D. K. (1984). Phonemic analysis and synthesis as word attack skills: Revisited, Journal of Educational Psychology 76: 1059–1064.Google Scholar
  24. Frostig, M. (1966). Developmental Test of Visual Perception. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  25. Goswami, U. C. & Bryant, P. E. (1990). Phonological skills and learning to read. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  26. Lundberg, I., Olofsson, A. & Wall, S. (1980). Reading and spelling skills in the first school years predicted from phonemic awareness skills in kindergarten, Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 21: 159–173.Google Scholar
  27. Lundberg, I., Frost, J. & Petersen, O-P. (1988). Effects of an intensive program for stimulating phonological awareness in preschool children, Reading Research Quarterly 23: 263–284.Google Scholar
  28. Masonheimer, P. E., Drum, P. A. & Ehri, L. C. (1984). Does environmental print identification lead children into word reading? Journal of Reading Behavior 16: 257–271.Google Scholar
  29. Morais, J., Alegria, J. & Content, A. (1987). The relationships between segmental analysis and alphabetic literacy: An interactive view, Cahiers de Psychologie Cognitive 7: 415–438.Google Scholar
  30. Morais, J., Bertelson, P., Cary, L. & Alegria, J. (1986). Literacy training and speech segmentation, Cognition 24: 45–64.Google Scholar
  31. Morais, J., Cary, L., Alegria, J. & Bertelson, P. (1979). Does awareness of speech as a sequence of phones arise spontaneously? Cognition 7: 323–331.Google Scholar
  32. Rosner, J. (1975). Helping children overcome learning difficulties. New York: Walker and Company.Google Scholar
  33. Share, D. L., Jorm, A. F., Maclean, R. & Matthews, R. (1984). Sources of individual differences in reading acquisition, Journal of Educational Psychology 76: 466–477.Google Scholar
  34. Stahl, S. A. & Murray, B. A. (1994). Defining phonological awareness and its relationship to reading, Journal of Educational Psychology 86: 221–234.Google Scholar
  35. Stanovich, K. E., Cunningham, A. E. & Cramer, B. B. (1984). Assessing phonological awareness in kindergarten children: Issues of task comparability. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 38: 175–190.Google Scholar
  36. Stuart, M. & Coltheart, M. (1988). Does reading develop in a sequence of stages?, Cognition 30: 139–181.Google Scholar
  37. Venezky, R. L. (1970). The structure of English orthography. The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar
  38. Wagner, R. K., Torgeson, J. K. & Rashotte, C. A. (1994). Development of reading related phonological processing abilities: New evidence of directional causality from a latent variable longitudinal model, Developmental Psychology 30: 73–87.Google Scholar
  39. Williams, J. P. (1980). Teaching decoding with an emphasis on phoneme analysis and phoneme blending, Journal of Educational Psychology 72: 1–15.Google Scholar
  40. Yopp, H. K. (1988). The validity and reliability of phonemic awareness tests, Reading Research Quarterly 23: 159–177.Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations