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Phonological awareness in kindergarten: a field study in Luxembourgish schools

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to assess the effectiveness of a phonological awareness training program in the specific context of the Luxembourgish educational system. The intervention was run by the kindergarten teachers in their classes with minimal external supervision. Forty-one classes of the area around Luxembourg City participated in the study. One hundred and fifty children from 20 kindergarten classes were part of the training group and 157 children from 21 classes formed the control group. At the end of kindergarten, clear training effects were observed for all phonological awareness tasks, except for the highly demanding phoneme deletion task. After 6 months of reading and writing instruction in first grade, no training effects were found in a pseudoword spelling task for the entire training group. Only at-risk children, which had the lowest performance on preschool phonological awareness measures, showed significant training effects. We conclude that early phonological awareness training may be profitably incorporated in kindergarten classroom activities, particularly for at-risk pupils, even when the language characteristics and teaching methods already concur in facilitating the understanding of the alphabetic principle.

Résumé

L’objectif de la présente étude était d’évaluer l’effet d’un entraînement de la conscience phonologique dans le contexte particulier du système scolaire luxembourgeois. L’intervention a été menée par les enseignants préscolaires, dans leurs classes, et avec une supervision externe minimale. Quarante et une classes situées dans les communes adjacentes à la ville de Luxembourg ont participé. Cent cinquante enfants (20 classes) formaient le groupe d’entraînement et 157 enfants (21 classes) le groupe contrôle. A la fin de l’année des effets d’entraînements clairs ont été observés pour toutes les tâches de conscience phonologique sauf la plus difficile, la suppression de phonèmes. Après six mois d’apprentissage du langage écrit en première année d’étude, la tâche d’écriture de pseudo-mots sous dictée n’a pas permis de mettre en évidence un effet d’entraînement pour l’ensemble des enfants. Seuls les enfants à risque, qui avaient obtenu les moins bons résultats aux mesures de conscience phonologique en préscolaire, ont montré un effet d’entraînement significatif. Nous concluons qu’un entraînement précoce de la conscience phonologique peut être introduit avec profit dans les activités de l’école maternelle, particulièrement pour les enfants à risque, même lorsque les caractéristiques de la langue et des méthodes d’enseignement facilitent la compréhension du principe alphabétique.

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Correspondence to Sylvie Bodé.

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Sylvie Bodé. Université du Luxembourg, LCMI, Route de Diekirch B.P.2, L-7201 Walferdange, Luxembourg. Email: sylvie.bode@uni.lu; Website: http://wwwde.uni.lu/forschung/flshase/languages_culture_media_and_identities_lcmi

Current themes of research:

Reading and writing acquisition. Emergent writing. Phonological awareness. Spelling strategies. Multicultural context. Education.

Most relevant publications in the field of Psychology of Education:

Bodé, S., Serres J., & Ugen, S. (2009). Similarities and differences of Luxembourgish and Romanophone 12 year olds’ spelling strategies in German and in French. Written Language & Literacy, 12, 82–96.

Bodé, S. (2008). Profils de performances des enfants luxembourgeois en orthographe allemande et en orthographe française [Performance profiles of Luxembourgish children in German and French orthography]. In E. Loarer, J.-L. Mogenet, F. Cuisinier, H. Gottesdiener, P. Mallet, & P. Vrignaud (Eds.), Perspectives différentielles en psychologie. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes.

Bodé, S., & Serres, J. (2006, September). Profils de performances atteints en orthographe allemande et française: les enfants à difficultés. [Children at risk: Performance profiles in German and French orthography]. Paper presented at the 19e Colloque International de l’ADMEE- Europe, Luxembourg, Luxembourg.

Bodé, S., & Content, A. (2005, September). Etude de l’effet différentiel d’un programme d’entraînement de la conscience phonologique en fonction du niveau initial de développement de la conscience phonologique [Link between phonological awareness training effects and initial phonological awareness development]. Paper presented at the 16e Journées de Psychologie Différentielle,Luxembourg, Luxembourg.

Bodé, S., Beffort, A., Heinen, S., Jenn, P., Kinnen, M., Larosch, A., Lemmer, M., & Rasqué, N. (2004). Phonologesch Bewosstheet am Spillschoulsalter [Phonological awareness at kindergarten age]. Luxembourg: Université du Luxembourg.

Alain Content. Université libre de Bruxelles, Laboratoire Cognition, Langage & Développement, Avenue F.D. Roosevelt, 50 – CP 191, B-1050 Bruxelles. Email: alain.content@ulb.ac.be, Website: http://lcld.ulb.ac.be

Current themes of research:

Reading acquisition. Visual word recognition. Dyslexia. Spoken word recognition. Numerical cognition.

Most relevant publications in the field of Psychology of Education:

Content, A. (1985). Le développement de l'habileté d'analyse phonétique de la parole. (The development of phonetic analysis ability). Année Psychologique, 85, 73–99.

Content, A., Kolinsky, R., Morais, J., & Bertelson, P. (1986). Phonetic segmentation in prereaders: Effect of corrective information. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 42, 49–72.

Leybaert, J., & Content, A. (1995). Reading and spelling acquisition in two different teaching methods: A test of the independence hypothesis. Reading and Writing, 7, 65–88.

Content, A., & Peereman, R. (2000). La reconnaissance des mots écrits. In J. A. Rondal & X. Seron (Eds.), Troubles du Langage. Liège: Mardaga, pp. 257–288.

Content, A., & Zesiger, P. (2000). L'acquisition du langage écrit. In J. A. Rondal & X. Seron (Eds.), Troubles du Langage. Liège: Mardaga, pp. 179–209.

The writing of this paper benefited from R&D Project No. IPE/02/01 financed by the Luxembourgish Ministry of Culture, Higher Education and Research to the first author.

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Bodé, S., Content, A. Phonological awareness in kindergarten: a field study in Luxembourgish schools. Eur J Psychol Educ 26, 109–128 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10212-010-0039-0

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Keywords

  • Reading acquisition
  • Phonological awareness
  • Intervention study
  • At-risk children
  • German