Improving phonological awareness and word reading in a later learned alphabetic script

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This study examines the effects of phonological skill training on consonantal phoneme deletion and word reading performance in two groups of adolescent Chinese readers who were also literate in English. The research questions were: (1) whether training would promote segmentation skills over and above years of contact with the alphabetic (English) writing system, given an initial logographic (Chinese) reading background; (2) whether improvements in segmentation skills due to training would enhance word reading in the alphabetic script. The participants were trained on phoneme counting, phoneme blending and rime judgement with English materials over a period of two months. Resultant changes in consonantal phoneme deletion and English word reading performance were examined. Significant improvements in both activities due to training were observed for the younger (mean age 12.7 years) but not the older (mean age 15.8 years) participants. Follow-up analyses showed that language proficiency might be the factor underlying this age effect. Individual differences in phoneme deletion uniquely predicted word reading for both age groups, although the relationship tended to be stronger for the less proficient than the more proficient members. These findings suggest that beyond years of normal reading instruction in the alphabetic system, specialized segmentation training could still contribute to promoting consonantal phonemic analysis that is not supported by the logographic first-learned script. Moreover, improved phonological skills do lead to better word reading in the later-learned writing system. Implications of the present findings for second script reading instruction are considered. Copyright © 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 1999


Cheung, H. (1999). Improving phonological awareness and word reading in a later learned alphabetic script. Cognition, 70(1), 1-26. doi: 10.1016/S0010-0277(98)00074-2


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