Annals of Dyslexia

, Volume 66, Issue 1, pp 28–54 | Cite as

Language and reading instruction in early years’ classrooms: the knowledge and self-rated ability of Australian teachers

  • Hannah L. Stark
  • Pamela C. SnowEmail author
  • Patricia A. Eadie
  • Sharon R. Goldfeld


This study sought to investigate the level of knowledge of language constructs in a cohort of Australian teachers and to examine their self-rated ability and confidence in that knowledge. Seventy-eight teachers from schools across the Australian state of Victoria completed a questionnaire which included items from existing measures, as well as newly developed items. Consistent with a number of earlier Australian and international studies, teachers’ explicit and implicit knowledge of basic linguistic constructs was limited and highly variable. A statistically significant correlation was found between (1) total self-rated ability and (2) years since qualification and experience teaching the early years of primary school; however, no relationship was found between self-rated ability and overall performance on knowledge items. Self-rated ability to teach phonemic awareness and phonics had no relationship with demonstrated knowledge in these areas. Teachers were most likely to rate their ability to teach skills including spelling, phonics, comprehension or vocabulary as either moderate or very good. This was despite most respondents demonstrating limited knowledge and stating that they did not feel confident answering questions about their knowledge in these areas. The findings from this study confirm that in the field of language and literacy instruction, there is a gap between the knowledge that is theoretically requisite, and therefore expected, and the actual knowledge of many teachers. This finding challenges current pre-service teacher education and in-service professional learning.


Literacy Oral language Reading instruction Teacher education Teacher knowledge 



The Classroom Promotion of Oral Language Project is funded by grants from the Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (LP13011308) and the Ian Potter Foundation. Sharon Goldfeld is supported by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Career Development Fellowship 1082922. We acknowledge and thank all of the teachers for their contributions to this study. We also acknowledge and thank Francesca Orsini from the Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Murdoch Childrens Research Institue for her assistance with this project.


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Copyright information

© The International Dyslexia Association 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hannah L. Stark
    • 1
    • 2
  • Pamela C. Snow
    • 3
    Email author
  • Patricia A. Eadie
    • 1
  • Sharon R. Goldfeld
    • 2
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Melbourne Graduate School of EducationUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Murdoch Childrens Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.College of Science, Health and Engineering, La Trobe Rural Health SchoolLa Trobe UniversityBendigoAustralia
  4. 4.Department of PaediatricsUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.Centre for Community Child HealthRoyal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia

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