Reading and Writing

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 263–292 | Cite as

Language general and specific factors in letter acquisition: considering child and letter characteristics in Korean

  • Young-Suk Kim
  • Yaacov Petscher


In the present study we investigated the extent to which child level factors (i.e., phonological awareness) and letter level factors (i.e., letter name structures, letter frequency, visual similarity, and letter order) contributed to letter name and sound acquisition, using data from Korean-speaking children (N = 169) and cross-classified multilevel model. The results showed that (1) a relatively large amount of variance is attributable to letter differences; (2) letter feature variables, letter name structure variable in particular, explained a large amount of variance attributable to differences among letters for letter-name knowledge; (3) letter feature variables other than letter name structure were not consistently related to letter-name or -sound knowledge; (4) phonological awareness was consistently related to letter-name and -sound knowledge; and (5) letter-name knowledge was somewhat inconsistent in its relation to letter-sound knowledge. The results are discussed in light of language or script general versus specific factors and instructional environment in letter name and sound acquisition.


Cross-classified multilevel model Korean Letter features Letter-name knowledge Letter-sound knowledge Phonological awareness 


  1. Adams, M. J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  2. Burgess, S. R., & Lonigan, C. J. (1998). Bidirectional relations of phonological sensitivity and prereading abilities: Evidence from a preschool sample. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 70, 117–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 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.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. de Jong, P. F. (2007). Phonological awareness and the use of phonological similarity in letter-sound learning. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 98, 131–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Evans, M. A., Bell, M., Shaw, D., Moretti, S., & Page, J. (2006). Letter names, letter sounds, and phonological awareness: An examination of kindergarten children across letters and of letters across children. Research in Reading, 19, 959–989.Google Scholar
  6. Florida Department of Education. (2007). Reading/Language arts sunshine state standards. Retrieved from
  7. Foulin, J. N. (2005). Why is letter-name knowledge such a good predictor of learning to read? Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 18, 129–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Foy, J. G., & Mann, V. (2006). Changes in letter-sound knowledge are associated with development of phonological awareness in pre-school children. Journal of Research in Reading, 29, 143–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gilbert, J. K., Petscher, Y., Compton, D. L., & Schatschneider, C. (2011). Including classroom and school effects in individual growth models: A necessity or nuisance? (submitted).Google Scholar
  10. Justice, L. M., Pence, K., Bowles, R., & Wiggins, A. K. (2006). An investigation of four hypotheses concerning the order by which 4-year-old children learn the alphabet letters. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 21, 374–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kim, Y.-S. (2007). Phonological awareness and literacy skills in Korean: An examination of the unique role of body-coda units. Applied Psycholinguistics, 28, 67–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kim, Y.-S. (2009). The foundation of literacy skills in Korean: The relative contribution of letter-name knowledge and phonological awareness and their interrelationship in Korean. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 22, 907–931.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kim, Y.-S. (2010). Componential skills of spelling in Korean. Scientific Studies of Reading, 14, 137–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kim, Y.-S. (2011). Considering linguistic and orthographic features in early literacy acquisition: Evidence from Korean. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 36, 177–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kim, Y.-S., Petscher, Y., Foorman, B., & Zhou, C. (2010). The contributions of phonological awareness and letter-name knowledge to letter sound acquisition: A cross-classified multilevel model approach. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 313–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Korean Ministry of Education. (2002). The Korean Language: Reading 1-1. Seoul, Republic of Korea: Department of Education and Human Resources.Google Scholar
  17. Lee, S.-O. (1997). Graphical ingenuity in the Korean writing system: With new reference to calligraphy. In Y.-K. Kim-Renaud (Ed.), The Korean alphabet (pp. 107–129). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawi’i Press.Google Scholar
  18. Levin, I., & Ehri, L. (2009). Young children’s ability to read and spell their own and classmates’ names: The role of letter knowledge. Scientific Studies of Reading, 13, 249–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Levin, I., Patel, S., Margalit, T., & Barad, N. (2002). Letter names: Effect on letter saying, spelling, and word recognition in Hebrew. Applied Psycholinguistics, 23, 269–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Levin, I., Shatil-Carmon, S., & Asif-Rave, O. (2006). Learning of letter names and sounds and their contribution to word recognition. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 93, 139–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lonigan, C. J., Burgess, S. R., & Anthony, J. L. (2000). Development of emergent literacy and early reading skills in preschool children: Evidence from a latent-variable longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 36, 596–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lonigan, C. J., Wagner, R. K., & Torgesen, J. (2007). Test of Preschool Early Literacy. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.Google Scholar
  23. Massachusetts Department of Education. (2011). Massachusetts curriculum framework for English language arts and literacy. Retrieved from
  24. McBride-Chang, C. (1999). The ABCs of the ABCs: The development of letter-name and letter-sound knowledge. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 45, 285–308.Google Scholar
  25. Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development. (1998). Korean kindergarten curriculum. Seoul, Republic of Korea: Special Education Publishing.Google Scholar
  26. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Washington, DC: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.Google Scholar
  27. National Research Council. (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  28. Ohio Department of Education. (2007). Early learning content standards. Retrieved from
  29. Piasta, S. B., & Wagner, R. K. (2010). Learning letter names and sounds: Effects of instruction, letter type, and phonological processing skill. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 105, 324–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Raudenbush, S. W., & Bryk, A. S. (2002). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data Analysis Methods, (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. Ritchey, K. D. (2008). Assessing letter-sound knowledge: A comparison of letter sound fluency and nonsense word fluency. Exceptional children, 74, 487–506.Google Scholar
  32. Senechal, M., & LeFevre, J.-A. (2002). Parental involvement in the development of children’s reading skill: A five-year longitudinal study. Child Development, 73, 445–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Share, D. L. (2004). Knowing letter names and learning letter sounds: A causal connection. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 88, 213–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Share, D. L. (2008). On the anglocentricities of current reading research and practice: The perils of overreliance on an “ourlier” orthography. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 584–615.Google Scholar
  35. Treiman, R. (2006). Knowledge about letters as a foundation for reading and spelling. In R. M. Joshi & P. G. Aaron (Eds.), Handbook of orthography and literacy (pp. 581–599). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  36. Treiman, R., & Broderick, V. (1998). What’s in a name: Children’s knowledge about the letters in their own names. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 70, 97–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Treiman, R., & Kessler, B. (2003). The role of letter names in the acquisition of literacy. In R. Kail (Ed.), Advances in child development and behavior (Vol. 31, pp. 105–135). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  38. Treiman, R., Kessler, B., & Bourassa, D. (2001). Children’s own names influence their spelling. Applied Psycholinguistics, 22, 555–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Treiman, R., Kessler, B., & Pollo, T. C. (2006). Learning about the letter name subset of the vocabulary: Evidence from U.S. and Brazilian preschoolers. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27, 211–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Treiman, R., Levin, I., & Kessler, B. (2007). Learning of letter names follows similar principles across languages: Evidence from Hebrew. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 96, 87–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Treiman, R., Pennington, B. F., Shriberg, L. D., & Boada, R. (2008). Which children benefit from letter names in learning letter sounds? Cognition, 106, 1322–1338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Treiman, R., Levin, I., & Kessler, B. Linking the shapes of alphabet letters to their sounds: The case of Hebrew. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal (in press).Google Scholar
  43. Treiman, R., & Rodriguez, K. (1999). Young children use letter names in learning to read words. Psychological Science, 10, 334–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Treiman, R., Tincoff, R., Rodriguez, K., Mouzaki, A., & Francis, D. J. (1998). The foundations of literacy: Learning the sounds of letters. Child Development, 69, 1524–1540.Google Scholar
  45. Villaume, S. K., & Wilson, L. C. (1989). Preschool children’s explorations of letters in their own names. Applied Psycholinguistics, 10, 283–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ziegler, J. C., & Goswami, U. (2005). Reading acquisition, developmental dyslexia, and skilled reading across languages: A psycholinguistic grain size theory. Psychological Bulletin, 131, 3–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1. College of Education, Florida Center for Reading Research, G129Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.Florida Center for Reading ResearchFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

Personalised recommendations