Reading and Writing

, 22:907 | Cite as

The foundation of literacy skills in Korean: the relationship between letter-name knowledge and phonological awareness and their relative contribution to literacy skills

  • Young-Suk Kim


This study examined the relative contribution of letter-name knowledge and phonological awareness to literacy skills and the relationship between letter-name knowledge and phonological awareness, using data from Korean-speaking preschoolers. The results revealed that although both letter-name knowledge and phonological awareness made unique contributions to literacy skills (i.e., word reading, pseudoword reading, and spelling), letter-name knowledge played a more important role than phonological awareness in literacy acquisition in Korean. Letter-name knowledge explained appreciably greater amount of variance and had larger effect sizes in literacy skills. Furthermore, children with greater syllable, body (e.g., segmenting cat into ca-t), and phoneme awareness had higher levels of letter-name knowledge. In particular, children’s syllable awareness and body awareness were positively associated with their letter-name knowledge, even after controlling for children’s phoneme awareness. These results suggest that Korean children’s awareness of larger phonological units (i.e., syllable and body) in addition to phoneme awareness may mediate the relationship between letter-name knowledge and literacy acquisition in Korean, in contrast with previous findings in English that have demonstrated a positive relationship only between phoneme awareness and letter-name knowledge, and the hypothesis that phoneme awareness mediates the relationship between letter-name knowledge and literacy acquisition.


Korean Letter-name knowledge Literacy skills Phonological awareness 



Part of this study was supported by a National Science Foundation Dissertation Grant (#0545205) and Harvard Korea Institute’s Min Young-Chul Memorial Summer Travel Fellowship. The author wishes to thank all the children, teachers, and preschool directors who participated in this study. Special thanks are due to Jaesik Kim and Heesook Kim. In addition, the author wishes to thank Catherine Snow, John Willett, Andrew Nevins, and anonymous reviewers for their feedback on earlier version of the article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida Center for Reading ResearchFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeFLUSA

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