The Role of Hebrew Letter Names in Early Literacy: The Case of Multi-phonemic Acrophonic Names
English-speaking children more often spell letters correctly when the letters’ names are heard in the word (e.g., B in beach vs. bone). Hebrew letter names have been claimed to be less useful in this regard. In Study 1, kindergartners were asked to report and spell the initial and final letters in Hebrew words, including full (CVC), partial (CV), and phonemic (C) cues derived from these letter names (e.g., kaftor, kartis, kibεl, spelled with /kaf/). Correct and biased responses increased with the length of congruent and incongruent cues, respectively. In Study 2, preschoolers and kindergartners were asked to report the initial letters of monosyllabic or disyllabic names (e.g., /kaf/ and /samεx/, respectively) that included the cues described above. Correct responses increased with cue length; the effect was stronger with monosyllabic over disyllabic letter names, probably because the cue covered a larger ratio of the letter name. Phonological awareness was linked to the use of letter names.
KeywordsPhonological Awareness Phonemic Awareness Initial Letter Letter Knowledge Hebrew Word
I am very grateful to Bracha Nir-Sagiv for her contribution to the analysis of a corpus of words in children’s books, for counting letter name cues. Thanks are also extended to Yafit Melamed and Danit Ben-Amar for their involvement in the empirical study.
- Bruck, M., Genesee, F., & Caravolas, M. (1997). A cross-linguistic study of early literacy acquisition. In B. Blachman (Ed.), Foundations of reading acquisition and dyslexia: implications for early interventions (pp. 145–162). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Byrne, B. (1998). The foundations of literacy: the child’s acquisition of the alphabetic principle. Hove, United Kingdom: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Ehri, L. (1992). Reconceptualizing the development of sight word reading and its relationship to recoding. In P. Gough, L. Ehri & R. Treiman (Eds.), Reading acquisition (pp. 107–143). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Ehri, L. (1998). Learning to read and learning to spell are one and the same, almost. In C. Perfetti, L. Rieben & M. Fayol (Eds.), Learning to spell (pp. 237–269). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- McBride-Chang, C. (1999). The ABC’s of the ABC’s: the development of letter-name and letter-sound knowledge. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 45, 285–308.Google Scholar
- Ravid, D. (2004). Hebrew orthography and literacy. In R. M. Joshi & P. G. Aaron (Eds.), Handbook of orthography and literacy (pp. 339–363). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Scarborough, H. S. (1998). Early identification of children at risk for reading disabilities: phonological awareness and some other promising predictors. In B. K. Shapiro, P. J. Accardo & A. J. Capute (Eds.), Specific reading disability: a view of the spectrum (pp. 75–119). Timonium, MD: York Press.Google Scholar
- Scott, J., & Ehri, L. (1990). Sight word reading in prereaders: use of logographic vs. alphabetic access routes. Journal of Reading Behavior, 22, 149–166.Google Scholar
- Shimron, J. (2007). Tnu lahem likro. Hed Hachinuch, 81, 58–63. Let them read, The Echo of Education, 81, 58–63. (Hebrew)Google Scholar
- Tolchinsky, L. (2003). The cradle of culture and what children know about writing and numbers before being taught. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Wagner, R. K., Torgesen, J. K., Rashotte, C. A., Hecht, S. A., Barker, T. A., Burgess, S. R., et al. (1997). Changing relations between phonological processing abilities and word-level reading as children develop from beginning to skilled readers: a 5-year longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 33, 468–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar