New Research From Psychological Science

Read about new research published in Psychological Science examining the factors that influence early literacy.

The Causal Role of Phoneme Awareness and Letter-Sound Knowledge in Learning to Read: Combining Intervention Studies With Mediation Analyses

Charles Hulme, Claudine Bowyer-Crane, Julia M. Carroll, Fiona J. Duff, and Margaret J. Snowling

Although researchers know that phoneme awareness and letter-sound knowledge are predictors of children’s ability to learn to read, they are still unsure what the causal mechanism for this relationship is. The authors assessed participating children’s spoken language, phonological, and literacy skills before, during, at the conclusion of, and 5 months after either a phonology and reading intervention (P+R) or an oral language intervention (OL). They found that improvements in letter-sound knowledge and phoneme awareness at the end of the P+R intervention accounted for improvements in children’s literacy skills 5 months post-intervention. This indicates that phoneme awareness and letter-sound knowledge may be causal influences in the development of children’s literacy skills.

Common Patterns of Prediction of Literacy Development in Different Alphabetic Orthographies

Markéta Caravolas, Arne Lervåg, Petroula Mousikou, Corina Efrim, Miroslav Litavský, Eduardo Onochie-Quintanilla, Naymé Salas, Miroslava Schöffelová, Sylvia Defior, Marína Mikulajová, Gabriela Seidlová-Málková, and Charles Hulme

Phoneme awareness, letter-sound knowledge, rapid automatized naming (RAN), and verbal memory span have been shown to be predictors of learning to read English, but are these skills also important precursors to learning to read in other languages? English-, Spanish-, Czech-, and Slovak-speaking children’s literacy skills, letter knowledge, phoneme awareness, RAN, and verbal memory spans were assessed upon entering kindergarten and 10 months later. The researchers found that letter knowledge, phoneme awareness, and RAN scores — but not verbal memory scores — at the beginning of kindergarten predicted changes in literacy skills 10 months later for all four languages. This suggests that these skills tap cognitive processes that are important for learning how to read in all languages.

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